Why I will not be jumping on the Green Party bandwagon.

I will not be voting Green, for three main reasons that I’d like to share.

1) I do not trust Natalie Bennett. I have met Natalie, who is standing in Camden where I work, a couple of times. She said publicly at an Education Question Time event that we held last year that she supported the ‘South of the Euston Road’ school. I expressed surprise, and we sought confirmation from her that she knew this school could only happen if it was a Free School (which the Green Party education policy specifically are against). She nodded that she knew that, but said that it was a ‘nice area’ and ‘deserved it’s own school’. I was a little incredulous.  How can one be completely opposed to Free Schools, want to bring them all back into the state sector and stop any more being built (as they have declared in their manifesto) and yet support one in the area where you want to get elected because it’s ‘a nice area’ that ‘deserves it’s own school’ so the children “don’t have to cross Euston Road”  (there are buses!  And they’re environmentally friendly).  She has since quietly told us that she doesn’t support it after all, but she hasn’t publicy refuted what she said then (which was to a small audience). I think this is because she knows that the parents who support that campaign are her best hope being elected.

Politicians do these things all the time, but the Greens are trying to convince us they are different, and I think this one – little reported – example shows how Natalie Bennett at least – is not different.

2) They are very unlikely to get any seats other than Caroline Lucas (who I like and respect a lot). So therefore any vote for them just means taking a vote away from a more likely opposition and thus letting the Tories back in. I know that a Proportional Representation system would have made this different, but we don’t have one, so we need to vote accordingly and sensibly.

3) Ed Miliband’s not the most charismatic geezer in the world, but I don’t think that’s particularly important. The more we go around dissing him for that, the more we’re buying into that belief. Yes it’s true that Labour haven’t got the most left-wing manifesto in the world, and the Greens have got something a bit better… but it’s easy to promise the world if you don’t have a chance of getting in (look at what Lib Dems promised before the last election, and what they actually delivered). I worry that lots of the recent surge of support for Greens is because people hope for a Greens/Labour coalition in the event of a hung parliament. But actually, I think the chances are still quite high of a Labour majority, at least if you keep entertaining the idea, rather than huffing and puffing when Ed Miliband makes a mistake.

I say all this by the way (in order of importance) as someone who isn’t and has never been a Labour party member or particularly a supporter. I am far to the left of most of the Labour party in my own politics. But I also think I’m a bit of a pragmatist and what I really don’t want is for the Tories to be involved in any way in our next government.  And I think that Labour are the only party with a realistic chance of achieving that.  So whether I think Ed Miliband is the best candidate, or Labour the best party, or not… that is who I am likely to vote for.

David Blunkett/Labour’s plans for Education

I have now read David Blunkett’s report on Labour’s proposed Education policy (well, I skipped a few bits I wasn’t interested in) and I think its important to note that if Labour got in, and this became their Education policy, then…  it’s nowhere near as much as most of us would like, but it would give us areas to campaign towards. 

Main highlights for me:

1) whilst Academy’s are described as being ‘here to stay’, he says that ALL schools should be funded through local associations and discusses the corruption in the DfE with advisers/ministers/donors all involved in school companies.  He states that he would like to see smaller Academy chains servicing the needs of communities, rather than big national companies.

That’s not taking all Academy’s back into LAs as maintained schools, which is what I would like to see, but it is a significant improvement.

2) It doesn’t prohibit Local Authorities from indirectly building new schools.  In fact, it says that if there is a need for a new school, that a competition should be established (the last Labour government set this up, but prohibited any Authorities from taking part unless they were A-rated Education authorities) and that Parents, Interested groups, or Community Trusts could take part in that competition.

“Community Trusts” is the significant term here.  If he’s referring to the same Community Trusts Fiona Millar is referring to here (http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/04/labour-and-schools/), then that’s promising.  There is a lot of detail to be defined, but if Labour are advocating an LA appointed Director of School Standards, who can oversee the competition for a new school, and if a Local Authority maintained Community Trust can bid for and run that school, then that’s a very large step forward.

3) All teachers will have to be qualified.

There is more in this report.  There’s a lot of disappointing language and lots for education campaigners, teachers and parents alike to continue objecting to.  But there’s also a little something to work with and a few promising signs.

The devil will be in the detail.

semi autonomous but maintained , funded through the local authority and part of the local family of schools, rather like the current foundation or voluntary aided school model. – See more at: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/04/labour-and-schools/#sthash.pxh6Kq9Q.dpuf
semi autonomous but maintained , funded through the local authority and part of the local family of schools, rather like the current foundation or voluntary aided school model. – See more at: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/04/labour-and-schools/#sthash.pxh6Kq9Q.dpuf
semi autonomous but maintained , funded through the local authority and part of the local family of schools, rather like the current foundation or voluntary aided school model. – See more at: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/04/labour-and-schools/#sthash.pxh6Kq9Q.dpuf