Guest post: entrepreneur says ‘vote Labour’ pt 2 – our kids’ #education #GE17

This is part two of a guest post by Paul Riley, the director of Sustainable Liverpool, on why he asks everyone in the country to vote Labour tomorrow. Part 1 can be read here.
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As the Director of a fledgling community project, I should be working constantly towards getting my project off the ground. However, this election is far more important. If the Conservative government win this week, the efforts of organisations like Sustainable Liverpool will be increasingly futile in the face of further austerity and cuts that will push those we are trying to support further into poverty.
So, for the last month, we have stopped working on Sustainable Liverpool and have devoted our attention towards campaigning against Theresa May and her party. Our first guest post here on Skwawkbox looked at Debt, Finance, Pensions and Tax [LINK]. Now, we focus on Human Rights.
The Conservative Party have cut support for the most vulnerable and the poorest, while providing further tax breaks to the richest.
In 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found that Conservative policy, including the Welfare Reform Act 2012, Care Act 2014 and Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 amounted to ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s rights [1]. The report found that disabled people were routinely portrayed as being ‘dependent or making a living out of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy or putting a burden on taxpayers’.
A further investigation, from the UN Human Rights Council Working Group, is looking at the Conservative plan to get rid of the Human Rights Act as well as the issue of mass surveillance in the UK in light of the Investigatory Powers Act, which gives UK intelligence and police the strongest powers in the Western world to snoop on our lives [2]. This allows the government to collect your emails, texts, phone calls and internet search history for investigation. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden commented that this is ‘the most extreme surveillance in the history of Western Democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.’
Human rights seem a secondary concern to our current government. Theresa May has repeatedly lied about, and defamed, the Human Rights Act [3]. In the wake of the most recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, she has pledged to ‘rip up the human rights act’ if it gets in the way of the War on Terror [4]. While I certainly agree that more must be done to ensure the safety of our streets (how about 20k more police, please?), the more suspicious amongst us might look at this as an excuse to impose greater restrictions on the freedom of the public as a whole.
One of our most basic rights is the right to education. This is another area in which the current Government has been, at the very least, woefully incompetent. My wife, who has been a teacher for a number of years, would argue that it goes beyond incompetence; more and more schools are failing due to impossible demands and changes to the system that seem to have been designed to cause a wave of academisation. Our education system is in crisis, with schools facing £3bn worth of cuts according to the National Audit Office.
More than 500,000 primary school pupils are taught in classes between 31 and 35 pupils [5]. More than 40,000 are taught in classes over 36 [6]. More than half of primary school teachers surveyed in a NUT poll said that pupils showed signs of holiday hunger, 39% of teachers said it affected more than a quarter of their pupils, 12% said it affected more than half, and 80% reported that holiday hunger increased over 2 years [7].
By 2020, Tory cuts will have reduced the budget in 99% of schools. The average loss per primary school will be £103,574 (which works out at £403 per pupil) and the average loss per secondary school will be £470,433 (£554 per pupil) [8]. If you want to check how much your local school will lose, you can find out here: http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/
We will lose free school meals, which will be replaced by a free school breakfast which, in time-honoured Tory style, has been woefully undercosted [9] – as Labour’s Barry Gardiner asked Tory Minister Karen Bradley live on air: “How many cornflakes does 6.8p buy you, Karen? Not very many.” [10] Our parents should not be having to set up Crowdfunders for basic school equipment [11], nor should schools have to reduce the length of lessons in order to cope with cuts [12].
One final thought on schools. Since 2010 the Tories have given away over 3000 schools for free. £10bn worth of publicly owned property, to ‘unaccountable private sector interests’, several of which are owned by major Tory party donors [13].
Our future workforce is our children. Our money should be invested in their education, and not slipped into the pockets of the Tory government and their friends. Think about that tomorrow when you cast your vote.
Sources:
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