8 November 2018
Diary of a Corbynista
A Rerun of Peterloo?
by Don Urquhart
The i reports that three universities are close to bankruptcy. The government will refuse to bail them out. It is a symptom of the marketisation of education, stimulated by exorbitant tuition fees. Surely universities, like schools, should be treated as public services to be sensibly planned rather than sink or swim commercial institutions.
It has taken an investigation by Sir Alex Allan, an adviser to the Prime Minister to clarify that Amber Rudd’s resignation as Home Secretary was down to poor support from her civil servants, which has been her contention all along. He did not find it necessary to name individuals.
Apparently Ms Rudd would like her old job back although this might be tricky without civil servants willing to work for her.
Amanda Spielman, the Head of OFSTED, has written to parliament’s Public Accounts Committee requesting powers to inspect schools more effectively.
In any discussion about the quality of education, Conservative politicians will almost invariably tell us that 86% of pupils are in good or outstanding schools. Nicky Morgan did so in last night’s Any Questions. It is probably true inasmuch as 86% of pupils attend schools which achieved a good or outstanding rating at their last OFSTED inspection. I am no statistician but it is clear even to me that this is a bogus assertion:
In 2011 the Coalition decided to exempt outstanding schools from routine inspections so some have not been inspected for over a decade.
A school judged good at its most recent inspection would normally receive a one-day short inspection about every four years.
If the government’s assertions were correct that would still mean that 1.5 million children are attending schools rated as less than good.
I wish that they would address the problems rather than repeat vacuous sound bites ad infinitum.
In the Budget Hammond slightly increased the thresholds for basic rate and 40% tax payers. Labour decided not to oppose these increases but 20 MPs defied the party whip to vote against:
Karen Buck, Yvette Cooper, Neil Coyle, Stella Creasy, Mike Gapes, Roger Godsiff, Kate Green, Margaret Hodge, Helen Jones, Liz Kendall, David Lammy, Pat McFadden, Alison McGovern, Ian Murray, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Lucy Powell, Emma Reynolds, Gareth Snell and Martin Whitfield.
I list them so that when there is a General Election I can have a quick check to see how many of them are still Labour candidates.
A national newspaper highlights the success of private security firms in keeping the peace on the nation’s streets while condemning the impotence of the police.
In some parts of Britain, 78 per cent of crimes aren’t investigated while in leafy Tiverton, Devon, arrests have plunged since the only cell at the police station has been removed.
In the south Middlesbrough area of Linthorpe, where Alan Taylor lives, private security firms are being hired in an effort to control the rising cycle of violence thanks to police cuts.
He said: “I’ve seen that vigilantes and private security are trying to plug gaps in the police’s work.
“I never see police on the street anymore. Crime seems to be getting worse across the country.”
The statistics bear this out: crime rose by 14 per cent last year while police numbers have dropped by 19 per cent since 2010.
“I’m not a vigilante, I’m a businessman,” said John Watson, who says he doesn’t use force against criminals but polices the area under strict contracts with his clients.
“John is someone who gets things done,” said Louise. “He’s become the person people are turning to because he does the things the police aren’t bothering about any more.”
“Winky’s firm said they could protect our homes and do patrols. It has brought peace of mind and a lot of people signed up.”
Watson’s firm is happy to take on any crime, however serious. One resident — too scared to be identified — contacted his firm after suffering racial threats and intimidation, including having his windows smashed.
The victim said: “The police never did anything. But I know that if I call Watson’s company I’ll have someone round quickly and he has my back.”
While JWS security might deal with knives and crowbars, in the more genteel streets of London the private police force TM Eye has started a service called My Local Bobby, led by former Scotland Yard officers.
This story is grimly illustrative of the effects of 8 years of Tory rule but the newspaper does not draw this conclusion for it is The Sun, a publication which regards the miseries of austerity as Acts of God.
On the streets of south London five people have been stabbed and killed in six days, three of them teenagers. Tory politicians shake their heads and find it unacceptable.
The Evening Standard edited by George Osborne majors on the awfulness of it all but fails to put to the sword those responsible for the austerity strategy that has taken police off the streets, cut youth services, Sure Starts and school funding. Why would this be?
Aurelius SE &Co KGaA is a private equity company based in Grünwald near Munich. They own more than 20 companies throughout Europe with interests as diverse as yacht building, animal feed, chemicals and TV shopping. Their portfolio includes Allied Healthcare which provides services to 13,000 old and vulnerable people in the UK and is on the verge of bankruptcy according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC has notified 84 public authorities that they must prepare to take over the services they had outsourced to the troubled company.
There is no word from Aurelius which presumably has the option of keeping Allied afloat although I suspect that they are more worried about how to limit the damage to themselves, possibly by selling off whatever fungible assets they can find. It would be interesting to know whether the shareholders’ losses are significant.
As to the recipients of Allied’s care they are trapped in a toxic mix of globalisation, outsourcing and public health cuts. They and the local authorities will be the big losers.
I am off to see Mike Leigh’s film Peterloo. It might provide some answers.