Why It Took Me So Long To Realise The Importance Of Education By Eddie Luigi

Let me make this clear from the start. I failed my 11+, and was thereby consigned to the ever growing ‘scrap heap’ of the under educated.

This never occurred to me to be a problem. I could read, I could write and I could accomplish basic arithmetic. You can not miss something that you never had.

I joined the Royal Navy, and learnt how to read electrical engineering manuals, in order to carry out the tasks assigned to me. My leisure reading was, purposely, limited to pulp fiction western and detective novels.

The news held no interest for me and I was quite happy blindly obeying orders. In an armed forces environment there is no place for a square peg in a round hole. Life was cosy in an environment where you were cocooned from the cares and worries of the civilian population.

Now that I have retired, and broken three television sets getting angry at day time programs, I decided to do something positive with my free time and enrolled at my local college for an access course with a view to attending university.

Now I understand why the Tories don’t want to invest in education and why the media write articles that you only need a rudimentary education to read, but not necessarily understand.

Primary and Secondary education is adequate for what used to be termed ‘factory fodder’. You are taught that this is a word and it must be true because there it is. You are taught to read the words but not taught to question the words, and as long as there is a roof over your head and food on your table you don’t particularly care. You assume an ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude.

However, what about your children, or your children’s children.

Once you get beyond rudimentary education you start to question the written words and ask

Who wrote this?

Why did they write it?

What are they trying to achieve?

This is just the thing that the Tories want to avoid. They do not want an educated population that will question any of their policies, they require an obedient population that are happy to live off the few crumbs that might fall from the master’s banquet.

If you want a quiet life for yourself vote Tory, do not become educated, accept that ‘this is the way things are’ and ignore your children’s plaintiff cries of inequality.

“There is no more far-seeing investment for a nation than to put milk, food and education into young children” Winston Churchill 1939

My Vulva Has Betrayed Me By Lucy Chapman

By Lucy Chapman

I love my vulva. I even like to say ‘vulva’. But my vulva doesn’t like me.

It is because of my vulva that I bore children. Wonderful, full-of-joy children. It is because of my vulva that after doing so I dropped down from being a full time secondary teacher to working three days a week.

We had a choice, it could have been my husband who stayed at home two days; I earned more than he did at the time, so it would have made sense financially, but it was my breasts which fed the babies, so it was me who went part time.

Damned breasts.

Being part time, there aren’t many positions of responsibility in a school; if you’re a Head of Department, your staff could need guidance and you’d be at Baby Song Time or as a Head of Year a child protection issue could arise when you’re at soft play / ball pool hell. It just couldn’t work.

So, as I stagnated in the workplace, I watched with pride as my husband (who worked at the same school as me) progress, get opportunities and promotions that were just not available to me. His pay was now already more than mine, simply as a result of me going part time and still the gulf was getting bigger.

As a direct result of this common phenomenon, my husband is swiftly paying off his student debt whilst I chip away £14 one month £21 the next. His pension contributions are also substantially higher than mine are now.

So, does any of this matter if we plan to grow old together and pool our income forever?

Well yes actually, it does. 

What if I was to become a single mum (imagine he had an affair or I discover he’s gambled away our life savings)?

Firstly, I would probably have to move my boys out of their school to get a more affordable home, I’d also become reliant on benefits and as a result I’d probably be labelled a ‘scrounger’ and television programmes would be made about my ‘sort’ of person.

I’d be villainised and people would wonder why I didn’t think about this before having children. I’d still be part time, so we’d struggle a little.

I’d still have a tonne of student debt left to pay and in my old age I’d be trying to manage on my meagre pension, whilst my now ex-husband joins the fancy golf club and books a cruise on his.

Women currently make up two-thirds of Britain’s poorest pensioners and changes being made to pensions (both public and state) will disproportionately affect women further still. 

It’s 2017 and in response to me querying why I’d not be getting my expected pay increase when returning from maternity leave, my boss, I kid you not, replied “it’s not as if you’re getting a pay cut”.

It’s 2017 and if my husband was beating me I’d honestly have to decide if I could financially afford to separate.

It’s 2017 and there are hundreds of thousands of mothers working part time and passing up on opportunities whilst fathers continue to breeze their way up the management ladder with the people they work with not knowing nor caring that they have children at all; it’s just not an issue. Nor should it be.

Girls have been doing better than boys in school for years yet we still have more men in management and leadership positions and there are much more male higher earners.

Only a mere 7 bosses of the 100, FTSE 100 companies are women.

It’s shameful. 

Women have been hit far more drastically than men by welfare cuts due to harsh austerity measures, a whopping 74% of welfare cuts are coming out of the pockets of women.

Women’s refuges are closing up and down the country despite 2 women being killed every week at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.

Women are considerably more likely than men to be in part time work and part time workers earn less per hour on average than their full-time peers.

65% of public sector workers are women so have been disproportionately affected by public sector pay freezes and job cuts.

I sound bitter.

I sound jealous.

I sound dried up; it’s not sexy to be overtly feminist, but is it that unladylike to want to be self-sufficient (even if from within a marriage)?

Am I that much of a bore to want a fair shot?

Is it so very unappealing to ask not to live completely dependent on another person?

It’s 2017 and my wonderful, sensual, sexy vulva has betrayed me. 

Children Listening To Political Debate: Wrong or Necessary? By Kelly Grehan and Lisa Mulholland

Broadening Children’s Political Horizons? Some may say it’s wrong but it didn’t do Michael Rosen any harm.

This week we, accompanied by our children ages 13 to 8, went to an event at Conway Hall: ‘Michael Rosen In Conversation With Daniel Hahn.’

Michael was there to speak about his early life, which he chronicles in his new memoir, ‘So, They Call You Pisher.’

He spoke about parent’s running Communist Party meetings in the front room, being involved in campaigning and his acts on anti-establishment rebellion at Oxford University. Cheekily in the question and answers section we asked for a poem and, to the delight of ourselves and everyone in the room, he recited ‘Hot Food.’

Before the book signing, which we gladly joined, Michael came over and chatted to the children and commented that he hoped “they were not bored by the political talk” to which we responded that “they are used to it.”

Growing up with parents who are political activists, our children are well versed in left wing arguments, being dragged to campaigning activities and listening to furious arguments.

Is this right or wrong?

Growing up listening to arguments about football, no one ever commented on that as being anything unusual; so it is interesting to see politics often portrayed as something ‘not for the interest of children.’

Michael talked about the culture he was exposed to as a child by his parents. This was felt empathetically by our children who are regularly dragged from political rally to watch an author on a book tour, or to the theatre.

Why do we do it?

Well we think there is so much to see, so many sides of life that a person should experience in order to experience the diversity of life.

Daniel Hahn himself said to Michael ” With all the education and culture you were exposed to, it must have been difficult for the school to match this” to which Michael replied that education doesn’t have to end at the classroom.

Thinking about how restrictive the curriculum has become in the last few years with the new reforms in 2014, we think that now more than ever we need to enrich the cultural lives of our children outside of school.

With the Arts being watered down in Secondary and with Primary school children spending the majority of their time working on Maths, English and Handwriting; it is worrying that their creative abilities and critical thinking wings are being clipped before they’ve even been allowed to grow.

Some may say that teaching your children the subject of politics is wrong, or that it is indoctrinating them, but I beg to differ.

Letting them hear arguments from left wing ideology can’t be a bad thing when those arguments teach our children basic human values like sharing and social responsibility.

Of course not all parents can afford to take their children to the theatre or have the time to go to events such as these. But we feel that all children deserve to have a broad education that covers the arts, politics and other subjects not normally covered in the curriculum.

So we hope that a Labour government gets elected soon and fulfils their promise of bringing back the creative arts and broadening the educational experience of all children, not just those whose parents can afford extra curricular activities.

We are, after all a nation with a strong cultural heritage.

Without an education broader than what is currently being delivered by the curriculum set out in 2014, how do we expect to produce the future Shakespeare’s, the future David Bowie’s and the future Michael Rosen’s?

Kelly Grehan and Lisa Mulholland are the Co Founders of The Avenger UK

Language For The Tories Is The Weapon Of Choice By Eddie Luigi

By Eddie Luigi

Words are the tools of trade for politicians and comedians. No cheap jibes from me about the interchangeability of them.

I will now use a minister’s favourite reply to an awkward question.

Let me ask you a question. Would you trust yourself to a surgeon who did not know which tool to use during your operation? Or would you hire a plumber who did not know which spanner he needed?

By the time a politician gets to the dizzy heights of the ministerial echelons, they should have a full toolbox of words and phrases they can use for any given situation to explain what they mean. 

All too often, though, this government will either use or not use words in order to state that the quote was not what they meant, if it becomes evident that the quote may be used against them or ‘as I said only last week/month/year’ if there is political capital to be gained.

For a ministerial politician to claim they have been misquoted or their words were taken out of context, to me suggests they did not choose their words with care, which must be the golden rule of ministerial positions.

Often the Conservatives, will hide the small print of their policies behind huge headline grabbing figures in the hope that the electorate won’t be bothered to look for the devil in the detail.

£Xbn for housing!! 

Which translates to the price of a small studio flat in most towns, but not the big cities. 

Affordable housing!! 

That translates to slightly cheaper accommodation if you area in the salary range of a Tory voter.

£Xbn for the health service!! 

Which probably translates to two pence ha’penny per patient, as long as you don’t have an illness that needs special care, in which case look to the charities or private health care.

“Of course she was training journalists” 

Which translates to ‘you had no reason to imprison this mother, so I will give you a false reason you can use to lock her up for five years’ followed by a false apology.

So what’s in a name? 

I think a socialist government by any other name would be just as caring.

But

A Tory Minister by any other name would still be an uncaring, lying, elitist, apology for a caring human being.

Brexit- It’s Not Set In Stone By Helen Hill

By Helen Hill.

Yesterday, Lord Kerr, the author of the infamous “Article 50” made some big headlines when he made a speech that many of us were more than a little surprised by. He said he wanted the British people to know that just because Article 50 has been written and submitted; triggering a British exit from the EU 2 years from the date of submission, that actually, it does not mean we have to leave!

Now I am sure that many of you are as surprised as I was by this revelation because whilst I knew the referendum result was not legally binding, I was under the impression that once the result had been accepted by the Government and Article 50 had been submitted – there was no going back – it was signed, sealed and delivered so to speak and we had to be out of the EU within 2 years of that date.

Lord Kerr explained that actually we can revoke Article 50 at any point and simply change our minds! 

He added that the 2 year time scale we have all come to view as a deadline is also not set in stone and that we are entitled to extend this period, if we so wish. He added that he had felt compelled to come forward, as the author of the document, to address many of the misconceptions that the public seemed to be under, he said he simply felt that the British public had a right to know that we have not made an irreversible decision and that with all of the new evidence that has come to light that if we decide we have made the wrong decision we still have the option to remain.

I
feel that it was honourable of Lord Kerr to come out and inform the public of where they stood because given the revelations since the election about how our exit from the European Union is forecast to negatively impact us in terms of jobs, the economy, the cost of living and travel, people may well want to reconsider. 

The campaign was fought and won on lies spun from the battle bus about money that does not exist and ill information about immigration alongside a patriotic rhetoric of how we could “Make Britain Great Again” when in fact all that has come to light so far is how much worse off our country will be as a direct result of our exit. 

Add to that the fact that those who have been sent to negotiate the terms of our exit are doing a terrible job of it and the fact that we are now looking at the type of hard “No Deal” Brexit that nobody, including the leave campaign wanted, and it is easy to see why Lord Kerr felt he needed to speak out. 

I think it is wonderful that the British people now know that they still have a choice, but I also think we have to be very careful not to undermine democracy – after all a vote was cast and the results were accepted. 

Yet at the same time the election was not won by huge margin, just a couple of percent in fact and had the voters been better informed about the realities rather than the rhetoric that was proven the very next morning to be lies, it is very possible that the vote would have swung the other way. 

We all know people who voted Brexit who now regret it and feel like they were conned into it by lying politicians and a media with their own hidden agenda. 

I think it would be undemocratic to stop the process now and simply revoke Article 50 but I do believe that once the negotiations are over and people know in clear and certain terms exactly what Brexit will mean for them, they should be consulted on whether they accept the terms of it and then make a final, well informed decision based upon cold had facts and figures, not political spin. 

Should Abuse Ever Be Ignored? By The Masked Avenger Anonymous 

Author Anonoymous

Maybe ignored is not the right word but I am finding words so difficult right now. You see a really good friend of mine is struggling and I am broken watching what she is going through. She is in such a bad place and I can’t help her. In fact no-one can really help her though she should have had help 65 years ago!   

She is the reason I am now wondering if sexual abuse should ever be ignored.

I had such a black and white view of this until this week you know. I was one of those people who would want to kill a paedophile and would scream at the news in anger when child molestors were given short jail sentences. Child abuse is wrong. Sexual abuse is wrong. So why would anyone think it should be ignored? 

Well what if the victim had, after many years of recovering from a mental breakdown and hours upon hours of counselling, finally moved on from a very traumatic childhood. I was so proud of my friend for this. She had her life together finally. I watched as she raised her own kids and went on to have grandchildren. I mourned with her when her husband passed away and admired how she adapted to living on her own. She was settled, happy and well and then all of a sudden this week that changed and I am angry for her. 

You see I was with her when things changed. All it took was a phone call. I was in her house when her phone went and she questioned if it was a crank caller. I wish it had been, I truly do. I wish her phone had never rung. Out of nowhere she had a call from the police. Can you imagine watching daytime TV comfy in your reclining armchair having a cuppa and a scone and a natter with your friend and the police ring you and you have no idea what has happened? 

This is why I wanted to talk to you about child abuse and sexual abuse. This is why sometimes I wonder if it IS best ignored. 

My friend was abused as a child. We just don’t talk about it. We are the generation that sweeps stuff like that under the carpet and get on with our lives. Apparently someone else decided he or she could no longer do that and several months ago the children’s home my friend was in as a young child started to be investigated by the police for abuse. Yes it happened. No-one doubts that. But this was sixty plus years ago. Yes I know the perpetrators should never have got away with it but is it right that after almost seventy years things need disturbed? 

My friend wants her life back to how it was last week and she can’t now. The resurfacing of the past is destroying her. 
She asked me why someone would upset her like this? 

She wants to know why she should have to relive memories she wants to forget. She is old and tired and has reconciled her past. The people who abused her are long dead, so she assumes. Now my friend is so so sick. She can’t sleep, she is imagining all sorts and not eating. Why do that to someone who is in their seventies? 

What is being gained from digging up the past?

Hundreds of people are going through this now. Children’s homes, boarding schools, mental hospitals and so forth from the forties, fifties and sixties are all being investigated because of abuse of children and vulnerable adults. It was common place in our time. We all know it happened and it is shocking and awful. But when I look at the state of my good friend I am so worried about these investigations now. If the victims are past pensionable age what age are the abusers now? They will have lived life and many will have passed away. Even those who are still alive, is it worth jailing a 90 year old for something he did at 19?

I know for some finally seeing their abuser locked up may give them closure but what about the other victims who have had memories dragged back up and are now left alone, vulnerable and ill as a result of having to discuss things they had long buried and moved on from? 

While the State may end up looking after the abuser people like my dear friend have been left in a state. 

I tell my grown up kids that is something isn’t broken don’t touch it. Maybe I am old and old fashioned in my ways but I can’t help but wonder if there are times when abuse is best forgotten about or ignored. 

What if the trauma of all this kills my friend?

There is no punishment enough for that. 

Labour Regional Conference: Showing How This Party is Thriving While The Tories Are Crumbling By Helen Hill

By Helen Hill.

This weekend saw the return of the annual Labour Party North West Regional Conference to Blackpool and it pulled in the biggest attendance in it’s history, so much so that it completely sold out for the first time ever.

The conference was held at the Hilton Hotel, situated on Blackpool seafront and saw many regional MP’s and MEP’s joined by shadow cabinet members such as Angela Rayner, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry and the man himself – Mr Corbyn – take the the stage to make speeches. 


As a regular attendee of regional conference and someone elected to the North West CAC it was amazing to see so many of our front benchers wanting to come and address the North West delegation and talk about regional issues that affect us, but what was even more wonderful was the incredible atmosphere! 

There was a real sense of unity amongst the delegates, union officials, affiliate members and visitors. 

There was passion, positivity, satisfaction and excitement but upon reflection it is unsurprising.

The North West had incredible results during the General Election this year, where not only did we hold every single Labour seat and increased our majorities within them but we also won four strongly contested marginal seats and reduced the Tory majority by up to 70% in the few seats they hold in our region. 

To say the region cleaned up at the election would be an understatement and as Jeremy Corbyn pointed out in his wonderful speech, the North West has the highest portion of the Labour vote in the entire country! 

The mood of conference was simply a reflection of our success and for the first time in a number of years, the unsettled atmosphere of a party struggling with infighting and uncertainty was replaced with stability and confidence.

I was nominated for election at conference and although this is now the third consecutive year for me, it never gets any less scary. I have held a seat on the North West CAC for the last two years and was nominated to stand again to retain it. I was really honoured to be put on the Momentum slate as a candidate that they were backing and was inundated with support from Labour members, local CLP’s, Unite and Momentum members, so despite being nervous and having the usual self doubt, I felt supported and honoured that so many people had faith in me and thankfully I was re-elected for a third term! 


It turned out that I was uncontested so I did not need to go to ballot like I have in previous years and it meant that I could relax and enjoy the conference instead of biting my nails and waiting for a result. 
The Momentum backed candidates literally cleaned up in terms of the elections, with the Regional Board and the CAC both seeing a shift in terms far more of their elected representatives being from the Momentum slate, which is good news for Jeremy Corbyn who really needs the backing of internal panels such as these. 


What I always enjoy about regional conference is the opportunity it gives me to meet so many like minded people and to catch up with others from across the region who I have met and maybe worked alongside before but live miles away from and rarely see. 

It also gives you the opportunity to meet the MP’s and have a good chat with them. I would say that regional conference is a must for anyone who wants to network and progress within the party and it is surprising over the past few years how many people I have got to know, from every level of the party. 


This year I even ran into some Facebook friends from left wing forums who I have become acquainted with over the years but until then had never met in person and it was so nice to chat in real life!

The speeches were varied and very relevant, focusing on everything from Brexit and how it will affect the region, to the economy education and the terrorist threat and what Labour can do to counter it. I thought that this was a really important issue to address after the horrendous Manchester Arena bombing because terrorism is an issue that is coming to the fore as a concern here in our region, some people view Labour as a soft touch on issues such as immigration and homeland security. 

Diane Abbott addressed these misconceptions and gave the reassurance that many in the region were looking for, pointing out that actually the Tory austerity policies and police cuts are what have left the UK struggling to handle the terrorist threat and that Labour would not only ensure that there were 10,000 more police officers on the streets to keep us safe but also 5,000 additional boarder officers who would be able to have a much better grip on immigration. 

She quite rightly explained that despite the Tories attempts, it had been proven that Britain cannot be kept safe on the cheap and that actually, it is the Tories that are a threat to our national security thanks to their under funding and cuts!

I also attended a Momentum fringe event which focused on young voters and the importance of the role they played in our election success this year, the issue of votes at 16 again coming to the fore with young Labour members on the panel quite rightly stating the fact that the 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds who were so rudely shunned in Parliament just this week will not forget it in a hurry who screwed them over and that these are future voters that we need to engage now and continue to lobby for – because they also will not forget who stood with them and will vote accordingly when the time comes.

Jeremy Corbyn gave a really strong speech and talked about the success in the General Election and how we must continue to build upon it because we simply do not know when the next election will be.

He addressed the current disparity between investment in the North and South of the country and how he will ensure equality across all regions, the sexual harrassment scandal that has emerged in Westminster and what Labour will be doing to tackle that both in Parliament and the wider party and also how successful we have been in turning the Tories around and forcing them to scrap their entire manifesto. 


I left conference with many new ideas, hopes and goals and that is the best thing about attending conferences, you come away feeling enthused and ready to fight on, more motivated than ever.


Watch out Tories, Labour in the North West is united, strong and dare I say it…. stable.