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I am absolutely speechless, and in protest, I sat outside with my wife (also a full Labour Party member who joined after January 12th 2016).  We wore gags over our  mouths in protest. Thanks to the people who came along and protested with us.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS WAS A SILENT, PEACEFUL, DEMONSTRATION, WEARING A GAG OVER MOUTH IN PROTEST TO SHOW LABOUR PARTY FULL MEMBERS WHO JOINED AFTER 12TH JANUARY ARE BEING GAGGED AND CAN’T SPEAK OR VOTE IN THEIR OWN CLP’s ‘SUPPORTING NOMINATION MEETING’ – SEE BELOW.

If you  are a Labour Party Registered Supporter, or full member after Jan. 12th and can’t get in to your CLP’s ‘Supporting Nomination’ meeting, MEET OUTSIDE as we did.

 7:15, Friday 5th August 2016, St John with St Mark Church Hall, Parkinson Street Bury BL9 6NY – PEACEFUL & SILENT Demonstration, no intimidation, no abuse, ‘like Gandhi’. WEAR A GAG over mouth.

Our Labour Bury North CLP had a meeting as above, which they said we were ineligible to attend although we are full members and we paid the extra £25 ‘voting surcharge’ in the two-day window.

We are allowed to vote in the actual Leadership election (we think) but can’t attend our own CLP’s ‘Supporting Nomination Meeting’.

In my case this despite having paid £3 registered voter fee last year + full membership subscription + £15 subscription to LGBT Labour (an official ‘Affiliated Group’) + this £25 ‘new member voter surcharge’ – but because I was not a member before 12th January 2016 I am unable to attend or vote in the CLP’s ‘Supporting Nomination Meeting’ to nominate the Labour Leader!

The draconian and undemocratic eligibility criteria were as follows, as stated in emails from our Labour North West Region and our Bury North CLP Secretary:

From: Andy Smith <andy_smith@labour.org.uk>
Date: 28  July 2016 at 12:13:50 BST
Subject:  Supporting Nomination for the Leader of the Labour Party

Dear Colleague,

                   CLP Supporting Nomination for the Leader of the Labour Party

Bury North CLP will be holding a meeting to give local members an opportunity to discuss the candidates and give consideration as to whether the CLP might wish to make a Nomination in favour of a Leadership candidate.

This letter is to advise you that this meeting will take place:

On  Friday 5th August 2016 commencing at 7.30 p.m. the venue will be :

St John with St Mark Church Hall, Parkinson Street Bury BL9 6NY

According to our records you are eligible to take part in the meeting.

To take part in the Supporting Nomination meeting you will need to have been a member of the Labour Party on or before 12th January 2016 and not be in arrears.

Eligible members – Freeze Date (as per NEC decision):

Only those members who have been Party members on or before 12 January 2016 and are therefore eligible to vote in the ballot will be eligible to participate in the meeting.

Those members who are showing as being in arrears from after the Freeze Date, will be able to participate in the meeting provided they pay the arrears at the commencement of the meeting, or provide proof that they have since paid the arrears to the national Party.

No registered or affiliated supporters or non-eligible members can attend or be allowed entry to the meeting, unless they are also an eligible party member.

If you have any questions in regard to your eligibility to take part in the meeting you will need to contact John Smith 0161 761 3597

John Smith

Labour Party Bury North CLP Executive Secretary
(no email address?)

(I emailed Labour General Secretary Iain McNichol about the NEC’s recent decisions – but no reply so far – Kate.)

BURY NORTH  CONSTITUENCY LABOUR PARTY

CLP SUPPORTING NOMINATION LABOUR LEADERSHIP 2016 – ELECTIONS FOR LEADER

  • The Meeting will check the eligibility of all members attending.
  • A discussion will take place on the qualities of the Nominees.
  • No Member will be allowed to speak more than once and no contribution will exceed 3 minutes.
  • This discussion period will not exceed 45 minutes.
  • Following the discussion of Candidate qualities, the Meeting will move to a Ballot if such is agreed.
  • If the Meeting decides not to make Supporting Nominations, then the Meeting will be closed.
  • If a Ballot is agreed Tellers will be elected to undertake the Count.
  • The Ballot, if one takes place will use a single round preferred voting system (as used in the final Ballot for a parliamentary candidate).
  • The Count will be witnessed by the CLP Secretary and Chair.
  • The Ballot result will be announced to the Meeting and the CLP Secretary will be instructed to fill out the Supporting Nomination Form and make arrangements for it to be returned to the Compliance Unit ahead of the deadline of 12 noon on Monday 15 August 2016.

This email has been sent out from Labour North West at the bequest of Bury North CLP.

Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Iain McNicol on behalf of The Labour Party, both at Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QT Website: www.labour.org.uk to join or renew call 0345 092 2299.

My advice – HOLD A SILENT, PEACEFUL PROTEST. WEAR A GAG OUTSIDE ANY CLP MEETINGS THAT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER. IF NOT ALREADY A MEMBER, JOIN LABOUR, AND HELP STOP THESE UNDEMOCRATIC PRACTICES.

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(Copy of email to Bury North Labour Party CLP Members 17/07/16)

Please excuse my passion and please, please, do read all this (below).

RE: Affiliated Labour Party organisations, £25 voting surcharge for new members, & *possible* Fundraising Dog Walk

On reading this again it sounds a bit like a kind of ‘suicide note’ or ‘resignation letter’ to the Labour Party, but as most of you won’t read it at all or at least won’t read all of it – or respond – who cares?

I was going to organise a fundraising dog walk (but please note: you don’t have to have a dog) for all Bury North CLP members and ‘registered supporters’, (other local CLPs also welcome) – for both new Labour Party members and the ‘experienced’ members (I didn’t want to say ‘old lags’) from whom we new ‘pups’ (however old) can learn so much  – but I don’t see any point, as probably no-one will respond – or come – given the almost total lack of response to my previous email about the £25 ‘new member voter surcharge’ and ban on meetings until October.

Maybe some of you could at least let me know whether you would come on a fundraising dog walk (with or without a dog) – probably will be in October now – say £1 for unwaged /pensioners  and £2 or £3 per dog or ‘hooman’ for rest  – starting off at a country location or Bury centre pub / & also non-alcohol café, and ending there?  Another idea for fundraising would be to do a cask ale pub crawl (also with choice of soft drinks) or something along the lines of a Rail Ale combined with the East Lancs. Railway, again, soft drinks also available (with apologies to teetotal members or those who for faith reasons are against alcohol – but you would still be very welcome to come – I’ll make sure there is a café alternative for meeting up and finishing).

At the moment, however, I am wondering, why should I bother, when I can’t even vote in the Leader Election for this Party?

I would like to thank the only two members in the whole Labour Bury North CLP on the emailing list who were not too apathetic? angry with me? perplexed? or whatever to reply or discuss my previous email about these ridiculous NEC rulings disenfranchising Labour Party full members who joined after 12th January unless they make a payment of an extra £25, and for forbidding all CLPs from meeting until October.

Thank you, the only two members who replied, for your replies and support. I am beginning to see it does indeed seem to be the case that the vast majority of new members (who may or may not have voted for Corbyn) DO NOT get involved and leave it to the long-standing experienced activists to do all the work – who may, some of them, not be fans of Corbyn – but at least attend meetings, fundraising events, go out on the doorstep and get involved – I applaud your efforts and thank you for your hard work for our CLP, (well, YOUR CLP, as how can I be a part of it if I can’t even vote?)

I reiterate, I am a FULL MEMBER and an AFFILIATED MEMBER and I have just been to this page http://support.labour.org.uk/  (which is STILL there on Labour Party website and I registered for the second time to become a ‘registered supporter’ as well (sic) – I am waiting to hear response to my  online application as member of LGBT Labour, which IS an affiliated group –  so why is this still ‘live’ on the Labour website if it ‘doesn’t apply’?

How long will it be before you change the rules again, so even if you pay the £25 you won’t be able to vote?  How can we trust you?  I don’t trust the Labour Party anymore, you seem to be making it up as you go along.

Yes, this is getting ridiculous!  I would end up having paid £3 as a previous registered supporter last year + full Labour Party membership + £15 to join LGBT Labour + this extra £25 ‘voting surcharge for new members’ (which I am not paying).  This surely cannot be allowed to stand?  I watched JC on Sunday Politics this morning, and he also doesn’t seem to think the ‘£25 extra’ is fair, or the ban on CLP meetings; ditto most ‘Soft-Left and even some Blairite MPs think it’s unfair.  If I compare our ‘yet another new’ Labour Shadow Education Secretary talking to Andrew Neil with how the rather impressive new Tory Education Secretary did  – well, watch the footage for yourselves.  The Tories are running rings round Labour at the moment, and we are providing NO sort of opposition or proper policy statements about helping the N. of England – just pathetic examples of in-fighting and a seemly supine acceptance of NEC lunacy.

Surely these NEC rulings MUST be overturned or there must be an appeal or challenge against them, whether you are pro- or anti- Corbyn, for sake of fair play? I am new to politics and to the Labour Party, but (and apologies if you think this is rude): are all of you so docile and cowed by the NEC and PLP or even possibly your local CLP that you don’t have minds and opinions of your own?  (*Effort to provoke response*) We are just sent out this two or three line email from the Secretary saying ‘you can’t meet’, with no further explanation or discussion.

I would like to know, on behalf of ALL Bury North CLP members and past Labour Party voters in Bury (many of whom voted Brexit and have probably already gone to UKIP or Tories) – what is the position of our CLP on this, what is the position of our Executive Committee, what is the position of our Bury North councillors, and above all what are any of you going to do about it, if anything

I am wondering if I am in a DEMOCRATIC party at all?

Probably not for long, some of you are thinking…well, feel free to expel me for asking ‘awkward’ questions, but freedom of speech is one of my most cherished illusions – that we still have it in this country, this Old Blighty, this Sceptered Isle – but do we even have it in this Party? Do we have anything even approaching real democracy in this county or this Party?

See my Twitter Profile:  https://twitter.com/ambergoth  This is the 21st century – why can’t we use secure online digital technology to add REGULAR DIRECT VOTING by the electorate to our representational democracy, on the most important issues affecting this country? Most people have ‘smartphones’, even in the most deprived areas where folk are not registered to vote or don’t vote in General Elections, and they are cheap enough to GIVE to anybody who doesn’t have one.  To see how easy this would be – try out the ‘Note My Vote’ app  https://www.notemyvote.co.uk/   (I am not connected in any way with this, but it’s a bit of fun and shows you how it might work).

I’ll tell you why  they will never reform our democracy willingly – the ‘Powers That Be’, The ‘Establishment Great & Good’ – AND the PLPs of both major parties as presently constituted would be against this – as it would mean giving more power and a regular say to ‘ordinary people’, us plebs and peasants, to decide what happens in matters that affect us all.  And we can’t be trusted can we? Look what happened in the EU Referendum…!  Oh dear me no, we can whistle for that!

To conclude: it’s just £25 to join the Tory Party and I don’t think there would have been any newly introduced gerrymandering measures re. who could vote for their leader (if they’d had an election that went to the membership, which of course it didn’t), but I can’t check because a copy of the Constitution of the Tory Party costs £10 apparently, and many of us can’t afford that any more than we can afford the extra bloody £25 to vote in the Labour Leadership Election! (No, I’m not thinking of joining the Tories at the moment.)

**Don’t suppose many of you read to this point – but if you did – well done.  You are a literate Labour Party supporter in the North of England, contrary to what the media think!**

PLEASE REPLY – PLEASE SAY ANYTHING!  IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE? (…..Tumbleweed rolls across Bury…..) DO YOU WANT TO COME ON A DOG WALK (WITH OR WITHOUT A DOG) or shall I just ‘call the whole thing off’, together with my Labour Party membership?

Is this Party even worth raising funds for?

‘No offence’, as the late great Mrs. Merton used to say,

Best wishes & love to y’all, be ye Corbynites or Blairites or something in between…

Kate Mason

P.S. Please, please, please sign petition re: discrimination of RNLI against LGBT people:

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/96412-end-discrimination-at-the-rnli-against-transgender-people

https://twitter.com/ambergoth

https://twitter.com/de_Bury

https://twitter.com/BuryBT

https://www.facebook.com/ambergoth

https://www.facebook.com/GothicKate

https://ambergoth.wordpress.com/

 

Unlawful Transphobic Discrimination at the RNLI – they are getting away with it!

Please sign my petition: http://www.causes.com/campaigns/96412-end-discrimination-at-the-rnli-against-transgender-people

The RNLI has recently shown itself to be transphobic: prejudiced against transgender people.  This came to light in the first instance when the management at RNLI Burry Port rejected the volunteer application of trans woman Kate Lesley on the grounds that, to quote what they actually said at a meeting on 16th June 2015:

“The ‘culture’ of the local RNLI Burry Port Lifeboat Station is too ‘macho’ to ‘cope’ with a trans woman as a volunteer.”

Some weeks later, in order to justify their rejection of Kate Lesley, they lied about this and denied what they had said, although this was also witnessed by Kate’s wife, Jane.

RNLI Headquarters then compounded the situation by failing to deal effectively with this discrimination.  Instead, they actually whitewashed the two individuals concerned at RNLI Burry Port and supported them in their misrepresentations about what happened.

The RNLI next fabricated a spurious excuse for Kate’s rejection, claiming that they were rejecting her because of her reaction to a previous incident when a member of the shore crew tactlessly and insensitively referred to her in the wrong gender – as ‘this gentleman’ – although he had previously been introduce to her as ‘Kate’. This was supposed to have been a ‘genuine mistake’ (you can decide for yourselves how likely this is by looking at the photos of Kate on this blog – she doesn’t look much like a man, does she?). It was very embarrassing at the time as it was in front of a group of parents and children from the local nursery, just up the road. Burry Port is a small place.

After inviting the RNLI Burry Port management to discuss this incident in a friendly way in order to help the Station avoid a mistake of this type in future, nothing happened for a couple of weeks, and it was assumed that Kate’s and Jane’s written volunteer applications were being processed and they would soon be starting their volunteer roles with the RNLI. It now appears the local management had already decided to reject Kate – because she had the courage to bring this initial incident to their attention. The opportunity to show a more inclusive, enlightened and progressive approach to LGBT people was to be squandered, because of their embarrassment, awkwardness and uncertainty about the best way to handle things.

Kate’s approach at this helpful, low-key meeting was untruthfully misrepresented some weeks later by the RNLI as ‘highly reactive’ and used as the spurious excuse for Kate’s rejection. It certainly was nothing of the sort.  It was an amicable meeting on all sides, from which much good might have come, if only the local management had known how to proceed in a mature and sensible way.

Kate’s rejection as a volunteer was despite the fact that, as a retired full-time classroom teacher for 15 years and a Tours and Talks Guide with the National Trust for 7 years, she was very well qualified and had plenty of experience of talking to the public, regularly giving talks to groups of up to 40-50 people.

Although she was giving up her spare time for free, rather than giving her a chance to prove what she could do as a volunteer to help them with their educational work, they said they didn’t even want her to start.

Kate and her wife Jane were flabbergasted – very shocked and upset. Jane had also volunteered to help them, but they say in their final response to us that they have not rejected her – could this be because she is not transgendered herself, just married to a transgendered person?  Apparently that’s okay, they just don’t want any LGBT people in person as volunteers.

To protest against this unlawful discrimination against Kate, please contact the RNLI as below and add your voice, so these bigoted and unenlighted people don’t get away with it.

And in case anyone thinks that the RNLI should be a ‘protected’ charity which one should never criticise, and how dare I bring this to the attention of the public through social media, let me state clearly now that I do appreciate the wonderful work done by the RNLI in rescuing folk from the sea, and the last thing I want to do is distract the RNLI from their valuable work in this regard. However, under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone for reasons of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity etc., and they need to be made accountable and brought to book for this.

If you wish to read the full transcript of all correspondence with the RNLI relating to the above, please now click on the link below:

pdf-all-rnli-corresp-to-09-09-15

—————————————

The RNLI Lifeboat Station in Burry Port, near Llanelli, Wales, is a very nepotistic institution. It is largely run by a closed-shop of the same local families, who treat it as their personal fiefdom, to do with as they wish. To judge by the attitude of their Operations Manager, they are small-minded and intolerant of diversity, keeping out anyone who may not fit into their restrictive ‘macho’ image of themselves. There is only one woman member of the crew out of 21, and she belongs to one of the local families which dominate the station.

Nepotism is rife at RNLI Burry Port. See their website and note the number of times the same surnames appear: Bowen, Griffiths, Morgan, Williams: http://www.burryportrnli.com/

Make no mistake – this is not because many people in Wales have common surnames – these people are all closely related; they are members of the same local families.  (The following list of names are publicly available on RNLI Burry Port’s own website, so I am not revealing anything confidential here: http://www.burryportrnli.com/ )

Roger Bowen – Lifeboat Operations Manager (L.O.M.)
Alan Bowen – Treasurer (L.M.G)
Beryl Bowen – Fundraisin Chairperson

Trevor Griffiths – Chairperson (L.M.G)
Alyson Griffiths – Fundraising Committee Treasurer

Haydn Morgan – Deputy Launch Authority (D.L.A.) & Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer(L.S.S.O.)
Susanna  Morgan – Crew & Education Officer
Gary Morgan – Crew & Education Officer
Rachel Morgan – Fundraising Committee

Steve Williams – Boathouse Manager
Byron Williams – Media Admin
Beverley Williams – Fundraising Committee

Unfortunately I have three ‘strikes’ against me – I am English, I am transgendered, and I am not a Bowen, a Griffiths, a Morgan or a Williams.

Please read below, and then please do support me in my campaign against these bigoted troglodytes, who are still living in a previous century.

If you wish, you can read the full transcript (see link above) of ALL correspondence with the RNLI – which makes interesting reading, showing how hard we tried to make the RNLI see sense.

Please support me by expressing your disgust with how the RNLI have treated me both at the local and national, headquarters level. Write to, email or phone the RNLI people concerned.  If enough folk contact them, maybe we will finally get the RNLI to respond as they should have done to the unlawful transphobic discrimination to which I have been subjected.  The RNLI claims to be a ‘Stonewall Diversity Champion’ – what a joke!

Contact Details:

Burry Port RNLI Website

BurryPort RNLI on Facebook

BurryPort RNLI on Twitter

Email: Burry-Port@rnli.org.uk

Station Telephone: 01554 832060

Burry Port Lifeboat Station
The Harbour
Burry Port
Carmarthenshire
SA16 0ER

——————————

Lifeboat Operations Manager (L.O.M.), RNLI Station Burry Port: Roger Bowen
Mr Bowen lied about what was said at our meeting with him and Trevor Griffiths on 16th June; misrepresented the facts and failed to acknowledge or admit to any of the discriminative comments he made, subsequently inventing a spurious and untruthful excuse for my rejection as an RNLI volunteer while denying the true grounds, which were based on transphobic prejudice.

Email. Roger_bowen@rnli.org.uk

(These contact details are publicly available on RNLI Burry Port’s own website.)

————————————–

Trevor Griffiths – Chairperson Local Management Group (L.M.G), Burry Port Lifeboat Station (Took seven weeks to write a letter in response to our complaint, but denied what had been said at our meeting with them on 16th June).

————————————-

(The following contact details are publicly available on the RNLI Headquarters main website and linked webpages).

RNLI Chief Executive: Paul Boissier
‘Whitewashed’ the local RNLI station, claimed to believe their lies, failed to address the discrimination issue properly despite signing up the RNLI as a ‘Stonewall Diversity Champion’

Postal address:

Paul Bossier
Chief Executive RNLI
West Quay Road
Poole
BH15 1HZ

Email: paul_boissier@rnli.org.uk
Tel: 01202 663149
Fax: 01202 663306

——————————-

Inclusion & Diversity Officer: Susan Kingswood (Did very little in spite of her title and went off on holiday).

Address:

Susan Kingswood
RNLI O.D. Advisor
Inclusion & Diversity
West Quay Road
Poole
Dorset
BH151HZ

Email: susan_kingswood@rnli.org.uk

Tel: 01202 663338

———————————————

People and Transformation Director: Heid Allen
(Note her job description – this is not ironic, it is her actual title!  And she was one of the LEAST helpful people at the RNLI, totally lacking in empathy, and rather spiteful in her letter to me in which she confirmed my rejection.)

Postal Address:

Heidi Allen
RNLI People and Transformation Director
West Quay Road
Poole
BH15 1HZ

Heidi_Allen@rnli.org.uk

Tel: 01202 663137

———————————

Policies of the New Libertarian Independent Secular Party (L.I.S.P.)

Like the Libertarian Party in the U.S., the New Libertarian Independent Secular Party – launched here today, 22nd October 2012 – reflects the ideas of libertarianism, favouring a secular, humanist society, a less powerful state (except for the re-nationalisation of essential public utilities), strong civil liberties (including support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights), minimum restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, the legalization of cannabis, separation of church and state, non-interventionism and neutrality in diplomatic relations (i.e., avoiding foreign military entanglements with other nations), freedom of trade and travel to all foreign countries, and a more responsive and direct democracy using modern digital technology to enable citizens to vote directly on important issues.

We would:

1)      Re-nationalise all public utilities and industries which were nationalised by the Attlee government in 1945 and privatised by the Thatcher government after 1979, to include gas, electricity, water, raillways, telecoms, coal and steel.

2)      Provide free residential and nursing support for the elderly in care and nursing homes without means testing or requiring the sale of the elderly person’s house and free home help care for the elderly still living in their own homes.

3)      Impose heavy penalties on bankers and all financial traders, managers, executives, stock brokers, commodity and derivatives traders, hedge fund managers etc. found guilty of negligence, fraud, financial malfeasance, misconduct or impropriety – penalties to include large fines, confiscation of personal assets and property,  and imprisonment.

4)      Abolish prescription charges and make all hospital car parks free.

5)      Withdraw all U.K. troops and military personal immediately from Afghanistan, Iraq and all other foreign interventions; no Prime Minister or U.K. government EVER to take the nation to war again without a national referendum.

6)      Abolish university fees and re-introduce full grants for all students from low income families and proportional grants combined with a moderate parental financial contribution for students from middle income families; high income families to pay full costs of children’s university education.

7)      Abolish religious denomination schools and re-introduce technical and vocational colleges alongside grammar and academy schools, but none of them to be under local authority or central government control.

8)      Abolish Ofsted, SATs, school league tables and the National Curriculum*.  Allow schools to determine their own curriculums and educational priorities, financed by a voucher system like the one in Sweden.

9)      Revert ‘new’ universities back to polytechnic status or re-designate as technical universities and require them to run high quality technology, engineering and I.C.T. courses together with overseeing a large expansion in apprenticeship schemes.

10)  Require the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and other ‘top 20’  universities to take at least 70% of students from U.K. state secondary schools and no more than 10% from U.K. private schools and no more than 20% intake of overseas students.

11)  Use the Internet and digital technology to reform democracy in the 21st century and give power back to the people.  We have social networking on the World Wide Web – why not electronic voter networking using the Internet, mobile phones, chip and pin systems etc. to enable ordinary citizens to vote on important political issues?**

12)  Legalise cannabis and allow sale of cannabis through licensed distribution (eg. through public houses, which would help to reinvigorate the licensed trade and traditional pub sector).

13)  Reduce excise duty on cask conditioned beers and remove it completely on beers brewed by micro-breweries. Lower excise duty on single malt whiskies and blended whiskies but increase excise duty on ‘alcopops’.  Break up monopolies of large pub ownership companies which charge landlords and pub managers extortionate rents.

14)  De-criminalise prostitution and make provision for regular health checks and contraception for sex workers.

*Politicians should let teachers get on with their jobs instead of always interfering in education and using it as a political football (this also applies to the health service).  They should recognise what teachers and other educational professionals have always known: that educational achievement is largely influenced by social, familial, economic and class factors.  

Why do politicians fail to acknowledge what is so obvious to anyone who actually works in education?  Educational achievement is adversely affected for children living in areas of social and economic deprivation, where there is high unemployment, family breakdown and multiple social problems. Children in such areas will inevitably perform poorly in standardised educational tests compared with children living in affluent areas where parents are themselves likely to have achieved higher educational levels and are predominantly in well-paid professional and managerial employment. 

STOP castigating, criticizing, punishing and micro-managing teachers in schools located in deprived neighbourhoods.  Let them get on with their job and stop interfering.  DO NOT introduce more and more pointless bureaucratic assessment and tick-lists. DO NOT pay attention to educational consultants, local authority bureaucrats, Ofsted inspectors, or government ministers and their officials. Instead, ask the teachers ‘at the chalk face’ what they actually need and provide them with the extra resources required to make a difference.  Introduce social and economic policies which really address problems of multiple deprivation. 

Much of this was known as far back as 1967 when the Plowden Report was written, stressing that ‘at the heart of the educational process lies the child’ (not Ofsted, not SATS, not league tables, not local government educational advisers, not ministers of education).

It is pitiful that so little progress has been made since Plowden, which included the following recommendations:

  • A national policy of ‘positive discrimination’ should favour schools in deprived neighbourhoods (Ch. 5)
  • Nursery education should be available to children at any time after they reach the age of three (Ch. 9)
  • Authorities maintaining selection should not rely on intelligence and attainment tests. (Ch. 11)
  • The maximum size of primary school classes should be reduced (Ch. 20)
  • More men teachers are needed in primary schools (Ch. 25)

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** Our current parliamentary system of so-called democracy means that voters only get a say once every five years and governments can do what they like in between elections.  This system grew out of medieval kingship and the patronage of the ruling classes, and is hundreds of years out of date. 

We now have the technology (the Internet, secure websites, smart phones, pin & chip cards, etc.) to enable ordinary people to vote on major issues which affect them in everyday life.  So why don’t we harness this technology to make a quantum leap towards real democracy and thereby reduce the power of parliament and the executive to decide everything?  A few privileged people – mainly rich, mainly white and mainly men – who went to the same schools and universities and belong to the same clubs – currently rule us and make all the decisions on our behalf.  Why can’t we vote on important issues ourselves through new voter networking technology?  It is easily within our technical abilities as a society to introduce such a system to enable people to vote on important issues – perhaps once a week or once a month – but our rulers don’t want to cede that sort of power to ordinary voters; witness how many times we have been promised a vote on European Union treaties and successive governments have wriggled out of it.

We deserve a better system of democracy than the current antiquated system, where a load of privileged middle-aged and elderly men meet in two plush chambers in a vast 19th century Victorian Gothic edifice on the side of the Thames to ‘hear hear’ and ‘jeer jeer’ each other, while sleek bureaucrats in Whitehall write elephantine piles of ‘minutes’ and reports detailing all the reasons why nothing of a commonsense nature can ever be done.

 

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