Friday, January 27, 2012

Gove the popular

Gove the popular
This will come as a bit of a shock to teachers, or indeed to anyone
who has seen or heard Michael Gove. Michael Gove is the most popular
government minister.
However the people he is popular with are people with money rather
than, for example. pensioners.
Education Minister Michael Gove has received more donations into his
private office since the election than any other cabinet minister
including the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.
He has received £35,500 for his private office and £61,279 at
constituency level.
His constituency has received a staggering 284,416 pounds and 40p
since he became MP. We don't know who gave him the 40p. We do know
that former Lehman Brothers' banker Jeremy Isaacs donated £3,000 to
Gove's office. Isaacs has given £100,000 to the Central Party fund in
the past but this was the first time he is registered as funding an
MP's private office.
Money management firm Christofferson Robb & Company LLP gave £5,000.
Electoral Commission records show Gove started registering his private
office donations in 2009. Since then around three quarters of his
private office donations have come from individuals with business
interests in The City.
The biggest single donation to Gove's private office was £150,000
donated in 2009 by Martin Calderbank of private equity firm Stirling
Capital Partners.
So obviously Gove has friends in high places. You can't call this
perfectly legal activity "corruption". That would be like saying the
whole capitalist system is corrupt.
And we wouldn't want anybody to think that :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lord Carey grovels to Tories

Lord Carey used to be on the Daily Mail hate list for his support of
women priests and his opposition to the persecution of homosexuals.
What a difference a day makes. The former Archbishop is now their
flavour of the month because he has supported the government's attack
on welfare.

Carey is well aware that the poor will suffer under the government's
proposals. They put a cap on payments to families. They put no cap on
rents and prices. A child of four could work out that the poor will

It is as easy for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle as it is
for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It looks as if
millionaire Carey has given up on that idea :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Borgen - media in bed with politicians


The Killing was a TV series which interwove a police drama with a political drama and was a great success on BBC 4. In the series Borgen the same producers concentrate on the political shenanigans in the Danish parliament.

It is not written from a socialist perspective but what it does show is the political elite and the media in bed with each other (quite literally in one strand of the story).

One gets the sense from Borgen that the media and political elite live in a comfortable incestuous environment and the one group not heard in this political democracy is …. the people.

The latest episode shows a female prime minister trying to implement a modest reform. A bill calling for 50 percent of all boardroom appointments to be female. The government would carry out punitive taxation measures against any firm which did not go along with it. Ostensibly feminist it is not a measure which would benefit the overwhelming majority of Danish women.

I won't detail the plot because I think you should watch the show. Look out for media smears used to discredit a minister proposing this measure; a strike of capital aimed at allowing big business to dictate to the government and more than one rotten compromise.

The Labour Party are present as a comic turn responding to advances by the far right by trying to prove they can be every bit as racist, misogynist and Islamophobic as the fascists!

It is alternately political and deeply personal; searingly serious and hilariously funny; foreign and all too familiar!

Watch it.

Borgen fyi is a slang term for parliament in Denmark - "the castle" where the political elite meet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No fix no fee

Ring 07799 181776

If I do not solve your problem you owe me nothing.If I solve your problem, you pay me £20 per hour or part thereof.

You can do this via paypal

Payment per hour or part thereof

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teacher unions unite against OFSTED chicanery

Ofsted wants to toughen the language of inspections in England -
changing the "satisfactory" rating to "requires improvement". Ofsted
are notorious for their violence towards the English language and
towards education in general.

By sleight of hand they change "satisfactory" to "unsatisfactory".
They label schools as "failing" in order to create a self-fulfilling
prophecy. Who would want to send their children to a "failing" school?
Or teach at one?

And the not-so-hidden agenda? Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary,
bluntly pointed out "The government's real agenda behind this change
is of course inventing yet another category of schools that it will
then seek to force into academy status."

In a welcome move another teacher union the NASUWT echoed the NUT's
concern: "The seemingly tough talk we have heard from the government
today, may have popular appeal but the reality is that it has nothing
to do with raising standards,"

"Instead, it is about ratcheting up pressure on schools, without
providing the support and resources they need to assist them in
securing further improvements.

"This announcement will encourage a culture of vicious management
practices within schools which will have a profoundly negative effect
on the workforce and children and young people alike."

Nothing illustrates Gove's hypocrisy more clearly than his dodgy "Free
School" project. For all his blather about raising standards, Free
Schools like the proposed one in Southwater, Horsham, are not required
to have qualified teachers.

So any Tom Dick or Harriet off the street can come and teach our
children on the cheap. The private
schools the millionaires in the government send their children are
staffed by professionals. If Gove gets his way they will be the only
schools that are!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gove to reform ICT teaching?

Like a stroppy teenager, Mikey Gove put his feet up on the desk and
declared "Ere this is soooo boring!" as his considered opinion on the
teaching of ICT in all schools in England and Wales.

"Technology in schools will no longer be micro-managed by Whitehall.
By withdrawing the Programme of Study, we're giving teachers freedom
over what and how to teach, revolutionising ICT as we know it. "

Quite right. It won't be micro-managed. It will be Micro-soft. Gove is
proposing that schools should use teaching materials which promote
Microsoft and Google.

It is usually the case that when government ministers threaten to
"reform" something, they are going to reform it the same way the
iceberg "reformed" the Titanic. In this case the DFE mean they won't
run ICT on behalf of the corporations, they will let the corporations
like Microsoft and Google run ICT directly. For Microsoft education is
a chance to make a fast buck. For Google, everything is a chance to
acquire information on consumers so they can target advertising at

Microsoft Office is available at a special educational price of £99.99
per unit with additional costs for upgrades. Open source alternatives
like Open Office are available free.. The upgrades are free too.

And if Gove seriously wanted pupils to be involved in developing
software he would be promoting open source software where the code is
publicly available. This is far more educational than Microsoft which
protects its code as a "business secret".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ark the 'erald Angels Sing

It was a privilege and an experience to visit Ark on Christmas eve. A lot of the people here are "between a rock and a hard place" and find a refuge in Ark. Ark is a Horsham charity for people who are homeless or who have drug or alcohol abuse problems.

Many have experience of prison and living on the streets. Even in leafy Horsham this is no joke. The United Reformed Church provided their premises for the Christmas period and the hall was decorated for Christmas and food was collected at local churches.

Some of the people who come have severe mental health problems and have suffered abuse; some can't cope with the idea of living in a house. Some can't talk about things. Others can't stop. And my job – apart from a bit of judicious Information Technology and spud peeling – is to listen, and learn.

It is the only time I have seen the smokers congregating outside a church as if it were the pub.

We don't believe in shoving Christianity down people's throats. Ark's Christianity is the sort that shares our food with people who haven't got enough. We have a first-class cook and no shoving is necessary.

The URC is just opposite my own church: St John's Catholic Church. At 11 there was midnight mass at St Johns. For many people it was their first midnight mass. One of the guys thought he was conducting the congregation from the balcony but he didn't disrupt anything. The carols were all familiar and nobody was shy about joining in.

And who knows they might be tempted to come to Mass some other time too.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Iron Lady in meltdown

The film is not intended to cover all the political events of Thatcher's life and it deals with the political issues through the incoherent rambling recollections of an old and demented Thatcher.

A first-class actor like Meryl Streep can make the most unpromising of villains appear to have a sympathetic side. And of course she does. As well as eliciting sympathy for Thatcher's declining years and mental instability, she also portrays her as a “woman in a man's world” striking a blow for women!

However there are many women – miners' wives, Argentine widows of war, the millions who stood up against the poll tax (and I could go on!) – who are not quite sure Thatcher was a crusader for women's rights. It is their story which is excluded here. She was a crusader for Margaret Hilda Thatcher. And if that meant trampling on men or women she was indifferent.

And what about Thatcher's less likeable abiding hatred of the working classes – the miners, the poll tax protestors and practically the whole city of Liverpool? That seems to have remained on the cutting room floor. She once told a friend only to hire a servant “who had patches on the knees of his trousers” - she liked the working classes well enough in their place. Down on their knees!

And the other missing area from the film - apart from the political omissions whose name is legion - is Thatcher's use of racism for electoral advantage. Echoing Enoch Powell she ranted about Britain being 'swamped by people of a different culture'. That's on the cutting room floor too.

Jim Broadbent's comic relief as the ghost of Denis Thatcher is a masterpiece. The only thing missing is the other side of this apparent jovial buffoon. Denis Thatcher made sure his business interests came to no harm as a result of his Downing Street connection - on one occasion complaining to Nicholas Edwards, the Secretary of State for Wales using Downing Street notepaper just to underline the connection.

One thing Meryl Streep did get off pat was Thatcher's style of delivery - one which makes sure nobody gets a word in edgeways. This applied most of all to her cabinet colleagues or "bastards" as she used to call them. And there is a chilling sense in the scenes of the Falklands conflict, when Thatcher orders the sinking of the Belgrano that this was a woman with a finger on the nuclear trigger. It is a wonder any of us lived to tell the tale.

Thatcher is famous. Her claim to fame is that she led one of the most hated governments of all time, certainly of the post-war period. Even that dubious honour is likely to be taken away from her by the ConDem coalition.

“Where there is discord let us bring harmony” intercut with scenes from the miners' strike and the anti-poll tax movement showing Thatcher's carte blanch to the police to use force is as good as it gets for an obituary of a figure who came to symbolise the Conservatives' heartless attitude. They don't talk about class war. They are too busy waging it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Oasis not top of the pops with teachers.

Horsham Churches together are proposing to work with the Oasis group to set up a controversial faith school in Southwater. Oasis, as you may know, celebrated Christmas by sacking teachers from their Salford academy. Oasis are not top of the pops with either the NASUWT or the NUT. Story in the Salford Star

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Shylock was an amateur

Shylock - the caricature of a moneylender demanding his pound of flesh
- has nothing on the payday loan sharks of today. Interest rates of up
to 5000 percent APR - and there is no decimal point missing there -
have been quoted for these philanthropic uncles who help the poor to
make ends meet. Even the more modest of them are charging 1800 percent
- the sort of figure that would have had Shylock's eyes watering.

And if the poor can't pay, never mind, these kind people will roll
over their debts adding interest to interest and then keep them in
Chronic debt. Shelter estimate that many could lose the homes they are
desperately trying to hold on to.

A YouGov survey for Shelter in December 2011 asked 4,014 people in
Great Britain if they had used payday loans, unauthorised overdraft,
other loan or credit cards to help pay their rent or mortgage in the
last 12 months.

One in seven respondents (15%) who took part said yes, representing a
national figure of almost seven million people, with almost one
million people using payday loans.

Have no fear the government are going to "look into it." Don't hold
your breath, they are still "looking into" the banks.

The conditions of the working class in the UK are intolerable but the
milk-and-water opposition are quite prepared to tolerate them. From
inside their cosy little bubble of padded expense accounts it probably
looks quite rosy.

A party of the working class would not put up with this.