Friday 22 July 2016

On The Steps of County Hall

Here I am on the steps of County Hall yesterday, sending out a call for a County Councillor, who could not be denied entry, to take in the Teaching Assistants' petition and representatives, after the TAs themselves had been refused admission.

This Campaign's Patron, Alex Watson, stepped up, and the petition, with Jeremy Corbyn's signature on it, has been presented.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Demonstration

On Thursday, from eight o'clock in the morning until 12 noon, there will be a solidarity demonstration with the Teaching Assistants at County Hall in Durham.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Party in the Park

This campaign's Patron, Councillor Alex Watson OBE, with another old stalwart of the former Derwentside District Council, Alderman Dave Llewellyn, fighting for the Teaching Assistants in the last few minutes.

I really must get back in touch with Dave Llewellyn, and with all of that lot, who are clearly still very active indeed in Consett and Blackhill. You only need to be the First Past The Post.

Friday 8 July 2016

Eve of Gala Rally

There was the strongest possible support for the Durham Teaching Assistants at the Eve of Gala Rally.

Angela Rayner told me that Grahame Morris has made her aware of this struggle within an hour of her having been made Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

Who's that standing in front of David Lindsay?

SATs: An Exercise in Cruelty and Spite

This week's SATs results were an exercise in cruelty and spite. A pass mark of 100 out of 120 is higher than the 70 per cent required for a First Class degree. The only point of this is that most children should fail, and should be told that they have failed. Just for the sake of it. Of course.

Challenging NATO and Trident

British troops are to be sent to Estonia and Poland. NATO promised Russia that it would not expand east by one inch. But remember, Russia is the bad guy.

If the EU, which we have not left, demanded two per cent of our GDP, then how would we react? Especially if it made no such demand of any other member-state. The Baltic States spend virtually nothing on defence. Anyone would think that they knew that the threat was not real.

If Finland and Sweden feel no need to be in NATO, then why do we? If Turkey is in NATO, then why are we? When is anyone going to say no to this madness? When Jeremy Corbyn is Prime Minister, that's when.

This week, the dear old Defence Select Committee has been doing what it does best. Lobbying for fat public contracts to be awarded to its members' past, present and future employers in the arms trade.

It has been 160 years since we were last at war with Russia. But we constantly have to pretend, both that we are teetering on the brink of such a war, and that the absence of it means that we are at peace.

Russia has been picked at random from among the nations of the earth, and we merrily go to war with any or all of the rest, just so long as we never do so with her, a possibility for which we must ever be on our guard. 

In reality, if NATO still has any military role, rather than merely organising top level weekend breaks in European capitals, then it is as the extension of Erdogan's Turkey. Compared to that, Putin's Russia is not an unattractive prospect. 

The eye-watering expense of Trident blinds us to the jaw-dropping increase in that cost every time that anyone bothers to check. Under any other circumstance, the Conservative Party would rightly go ballistic, so to speak, at a small proportion of any of those increases alone. Never mind at the whole bill, which is now completely out of control. 

Meanwhile, we now barely have a Navy. We had the mightiest that the world had ever seen, before nuclear weapons were ever even imagined.

A Commons vote on the national bankruptcy that is Trident "renewal" belongs in the same believe-it-when-you-see-it category as the invocation of Article 50, or a challenge to the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. But such a vote ought to be welcomed, and even forced.

Like the wannabe Shadow Defence Secretary, John Woodcock, the 64-year-old Michael Fallon has never worked outside politics. But the real Shadow Defence Secretary, the anti-Trident Clive Lewis, is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Sunday 3 July 2016

The Government Now Has No Economic Policy Whatever

Never mind the Prime Minister, or the Leader of the Opposition. When is the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to resign?

Following the abandonment of the illiterate proposal to run a budget surplus as an end in itself, the Government now has no economic policy whatever. Imagine if John McDonnell had said that he intended to tax more than he spent, and that in perpetuity. 

But remember, the policy that has this week been abandoned is supported by every Labour MP who voted to express no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

Indeed, not that anyone could have been expected to have noticed, it was in fact the policy of the Labour Party in the twilight period between last year's General Election and the election of Corbyn as Labour Leader.

If Corbyn's enemies had their way, then it would be the policy of the Labour Party again. Even though it had been abandoned by the Government.