You’re all in it together, again (guest)

Every pupil currently enrolled in school across the UK has only ever known Austerity.
Austerity was a deliberate cull of public spending, made possible by the distraction of a crisis. What was unacceptable was accepted – because we were told there was ‘no money’.


The first rule of negotiation is to go in with a totally unacceptable offer, so that your second unacceptable offer seems marginally better. The marginally better offer is still unacceptable – but is likely to be accepted by reasonable people who think they’ve won some kind of concession.


Nightingale (and Louisa Jordan) hospitals arrived at short notice, at great expense. They’ll disappear soon. Unused. Where did the funding come from? Friends who work in the NHS express their anger at this sudden discovery of new ‘showcase’ funding, especially while the simple essentials of PPE have been so shoddily handled. For years these same friends have been telling me the NHS is being deliberately run into the ground. Indeed, the NHS, like most public services in the UK, is held up by the actions of individuals who bust a gut because they’re there for a reason. By running the NHS into the ground so completely, more and more people will be persuaded to secure their own private healthcare. This is how Neoliberalism works, by manipulating people into making choices that they think are for their own benefit, while masking the steady and gradual withdrawl of state provision.


George Watson’s college – a large £12,000 a year private school in Edinburgh – recently appealed for charity donations to help families who had fallen on hard times due to the lockdown, to continue to pay school fees, so that their children wouldn’t have to leave (and go to a state school).


The reason that state schools and Further Education colleges have been hit so hard by more than ten years of Austerity is because the sons and daughters of cabinet ministers never set foot in them.


There have been a number of high profile resignations recently from people in positions of authority and influence who thought that (their own) lockdown advice didn’t apply to them.  This signals the existence of a pernicious mindset that there is one set of rules for the masses, and another set (or no rules altogether) for those who think they are better than us.


On the day the government announced an ‘NHS virus tracking app’ for smartphones, the editors of BBC news chose to feature the announcement of the cancellation of Love Island. The tracking app (with serious precedents for ongoing civil liberties) is produced by a private company, nothing to do with the NHS, and chosen by Dominic Cummings. Dominic Cummings presided over the exploitation of personal data in the vile manipulations of the Vote Leave campaign. Furthermore, a director of the company making the tracking app (so the records at Companies House states) is one Alice Sarah Louise Cummings, appointed on the 14th April 2020. This story did not make the news.

The Coronavirus crisis means that decisions will be taken by a small number of people on behalf of us all. These people are more important than us, and many of their own decisions won’t apply to them. What is for sure is that the crisis will legitimate brutal decisions and policies that will be less about saving (or recouping) money, and more about ideology. A re-alignment made possible by the distraction of a crisis bigger than anyone could ever imagine.


These last six weeks, education has seen gains and losses. We are quick to lament the losses. They are easier to feel. More concrete. But there are gains. We are doing things differently, and some things are working. Working well. We must hold on to these when we are confronted with totally unacceptable offers and directives, and must not buckle when what is totally unacceptable changes to marginally less unacceptable. Listen for return of ‘news’ stories reporting solemnly that, “We’re all in this together, and there have to be cuts…”

Captain Tom Moore has raised what Manchester United alone pays its playing squad every month in non-negotiable salaries.


May 2020

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