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

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. 

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.

Lefty Scum Tour: A Review By Lucy Chapman

By Lucy Chapman

When the government are cutting funding to the arts; when schools are being strong-armed by the same government to cut arts subjects to save the ever-decreasing pennies; when arts education is being down-graded, valued less than other areas of study.  In a world where welfare cuts are creating hungry children cold grannies and suicidal young men; where equality amongst the sexes, classes, races, religion, sexualities, genders is having to be fought for rather than being the expected norm; How do the ‘Lefty Scum’ respond? With song and poetry and performance in pure defiance and it is glorious!

Lefty Scum, a night of ‘comedy, music and revolutionary socialism’ was as empowering as it was funny. 

The tour isn’t going to do much in terms of changing minds or convincing non-lefties as the only thing blue in the room were the jokes. 

But to feel for a couple of hours like I’m not on the fringe, that I’m not the biggest leftie in the room, to hear my political and social ideas (stuff like feeding hungry people being the right thing to do) not only validated but sung and shouted about in bloody brilliant style was exactly what I needed.

It was simultaneously comforting and jarring; I’m not alone in my anger and fear and we can and should shout about it.

For me it was Grace Petrie who completely stole my heart. 

She had me thankful of tena lady for a good 15 mins before knocking the wind out of me with “God Save The Hungry” without a moments notice.

I didn’t see it coming; I was too busy having a good time. The reality of quite how insulting it is to have people living in palaces whilst others look in bins for their dinner or how offensive it is to suggest that somebody’s sexuality makes them lesser able to be a valued parent (Farewell to Welfare) floored me.

Of course I knew all of this stuff already, I exhaust myself relentlessly trying to explain, persuade and convince others of these things in every interaction. But there is just so much to fight for and against! And sometimes we need to be re-grounded. And sometimes it takes a beer and a song and a shout to do it.

Jose Long was her usual charming, wonderful self only stronger than I’ve seen her before. A wonderful reminder that our anger doesn’t always have to look angry to be valid or powerful or beneficial or more importantly on a night like this – funny!

Jonny and the Baptists had the audience howling at the image (and sound) of revolutionary nationalised swans and I think I must be Jonny Donahoe’s long-lost sister because their song to his dad was undoubtedly written about my dad. Maybe he’s the nation’s dad and maybe that’s where the genius lies.

I had a bloody good laugh in York last night but I also felt inspired again, reinvigorated and impassioned. I wanted to come home and write again, better than I have before.

I wanted to get that research done for my local Constituency Labour Party that I’ve been avoiding.

I want to get more women involved after several previously unsuccessful attempts.

I want to shout from the rooftops and fight for my children, my sister’s children, for myself and the young people I work with. 

I want to fight for drama and arts and the poor and disabled. 

Defend those who are exploited or overlooked and work out how to give a voice to those with none. Except there’s no such thing as a voiceless person, only earless ones so let’s lay the blame at the right door to start with.

Thank you Josie and Grace and Jonny and the Baptists for reminding me about the passion and energy in my soul that I’m sometimes too tired and beaten to pay attention to. 

Thank you for making my sides ache. 

Thank you for demonstrating brilliantly the power of performance. 

Thank you for the canvassing and rallying and thank you, comrades, for standing with us to fight the good fight in the most wonderful way. 

Hats off my friends, hats off.

There are only two dates left now of the 10-date tour:

WED 08 NOV | LEEDS The Wardrobe

THU 09 NOV | LIVERPOOL Everyman Theatre

https://jonnyandthebaptists.co.uk/lefty-scum-tour/
But I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on what these guys are up to next!

Kids Talk Politics And Put The World To Rights – By The Avenger Kids

At the Avenger our main mission is to put issues often unheard by mainstream media under the spotlight. And that means allowing people from all walks of life to share their experiences and view points on current affairs and politics.
Children and young people’s ideas and opinions are often unheard by the media; yet they often have the most creative ideas and simplest solutions to society’s problems.

We interviewed four children aged between 8 and 13 on their views on politics and this is the first of many Avenger Kids blogs, which will eventually extend out to older children and young people.

We feel that children and young people should be encouraged more to think critically about the world they live in  and although the ‘Votes at 16’ discussion may not have got the attention we feel it deserved in Parliament,  we will continue to keep that discussion going and ensure that children and young people keep talking about politics. 

We kicked off with asking the children; Luca aged 8, Naomi aged 9, Chloe aged 9 and Harrison aged 13 what they would change if they were Prime Minister. They had so much to say that we had to break it down into common themes!!

Here is what that had to say:

Healthcare


Chloe aged 9: Why do they charge for prescriptions when you are ill and probably don’t have a lot of money anyway do they want people to die or to live?  All medical things should be free. Everyone should be allowed to live.

Luca aged 8: I would keep it free forever. I would have more doctors and more technology to help them find better cures. Also it is very dangerous for people to have one kidney so this should be illegal. Everyone should have two kidneys.

Naomi aged 9: When children are sick they should get seen first in hospital because they have little bodies and want to go home to play. 

Harrison aged 13:  Our health service is good but we need to fund it more. It is severely under appreciated and under funded.

We must focus on welfare and healthcare more rather than industries. Why does the government help big industries and corporations? I don’t understand it because they can look after themselves. We don’t need to help and fund them they earn so much and they don’t even need to advertise. We should be helping the NHS and welfare instead.

Education and Schools:

Luca:  I think kids should learn about politics. And more fun stuff like cooking and art.

I would change the rules in schools. I would let kids go to the toilet any time they want. I would also give schools more money. 

Harrison: We need to change the way we educate like core subjects have been boiled down to three. We can’t thrive with just these. The system is broken. They constantly shove the core subjects down our throat. They act like anything other than core subjects is useless. In truth the core subjects are there to provide the basics. Without extras like art and technology we will come across as boring and we won’t have any skills. A lot of our subjects tie into together.

For opportunities for careers that pay well, we need extra creative subjects. We need to broaden out more to be successful as adults.

Naomi: Schools should pay for all kids to have iPads and technology to make learning fair.

School dinners should have nicer things like nuggets and things that kids like. Some children are not eating because they are horrible and that makes people sick. 

Children with lots of problems like my brother should still be allowed to come to the same school as all the other children but should just have their own class. Otherwise children forget there are children like that and laugh at them and be rude. 

They would not do that if they had lunch with them and if the others could see them all the time. I miss my twin brother at school.

Chloe:  There should be dabbing in school, and no school uniform so you don’t have to rush to buy it and it costs more money.  

There should be free school meals for everyone because not everyone can afford it and everyone should be doing more fun stuff at school.

Housing, Homelessness and The Poor

Harrison: The taxes aren’t doing so well. What are they being spent on?
 The poor are not receiving a lot of welfare. There aren’t enough things to go around as we are supplying big industries and they are big enough and rich enough to manage themselves.

There should be more homeless shelters in the UK and around the globe.

Real estate prices are over inflated compared to Scotland. Why is that? And our economy is not very good either.

The landlords don’t pay attention to the houses they own and don’t care and they don’t notice that there are empty houses. We need to start letting people live in them.

We have a lot of houses and they are going to waste. We should have a service that goes to these old houses and if we deem that the landlords don’t care for those houses we should confiscate them and have a service owned by government to clean them up and let people live in them

Luca: I would give the poor more money. I would give the homeless homes. I would spend money on what materials they need for homes and tell builders to just build them, it’s not hard to do. Why don’t they just tell them to build them for the homeless?

Politicians

Naomi: When countries and big people fight like wars they should have time out and say sorry like kids do.

If they don’t they should lose marbles and not get treats like stuff other countries have that their people like… like bananas and stuff. Be nice to the countries that give you bananas or you don’t get any.

Chloe: Why does the Prime Minister and politicians get more money than doctors and teachers? 

They get all that money and make stupid decisions. It is unfair that they get expenses and they should have to learn how to use their own money to pay for things.

Harrison: Politicans can be straight up annoying and stupid. They need to do a lot of work to get their priorities straight. 

Luca: Why don’t politicians make it law to be nice to old people? Some of them might be lonely. They shouldn’t be and there should be websites for them to meet friends and talk to each other. 

Most of all if I could be Prime Minister I would only be it for a day and let Jeremy Corbyn be Prime Minister. 
He’s really nice and he has cool ideas and better ideas than me.