Tuesday 4 September 2012

Reshuffle blues after Gove stays in post

The news that Michael Gove has retained his job  is very disappointing for educationalists after summer rumours that he may may have been moved in the reshuffle. Despite the debacle with free schools, GCSEs, and ill-thought out back of the envelope initiatives, he is admired by the Conservative Right and deemed, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  a success. He is now free to carry on wreaking havoc on the education system and damaging the life chances of young people.

The removal of Lansley points to the success of campaign on the NHS and we urgently need a similar campaign on education uniting trades unions, teachers, parents and school students in defence of a fair, fully funded and democratically accountable school system.

The new leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, commented on the reshuffle today:
There's much excitement in the media now about the reshuffle, but the fact is that nothing significant is changing. George Osborne, the man who is clinging to the utterly discredited 'Plan A' of ideologically driven spending cuts, which are damaging the British economy and causing suffering and disruption in communities across the UK, is still in place. (That's despite the fact that even the IMF is saying this is the wrong direction.)

There's no sign of a government U-turn towards the investment that we urgently need to create jobs and provide the homes, public transport and sustainable energy infrastructure necessary to meet community needs and build a Britain fit for the low-carbon future.

And with Iain Duncan Smith remaining as Work and Pensions Secretary, there's no sign of any response to the strong, angry protests against the inhumanity of the benefit cuts, which threaten to make huge numbers homeless, drive families far from the support of friends, relatives and familiar schools, and which are causing great fear and ditressed among people with disabilities.

There are also individual moves that are cause for concern. The shifting of Justine Greening out of transport, after only 326 days in the job, makes Andrew McLoughlin Cameron's fifth transport minister, which can be taken as a sign of the government's inability to make sensible policy in this area.

It is a bad sign that a third runway at Heathrow is indeed back on the government's agenda, as reports have been suggesting. The aviation industry depends on huge public subsidies. The government seems happy to keep spending public money on increasing CO2 emissions in an industry that's slanted towards serving the wealthy(1), while making the lives of millions a misery through noise and air pollution.

The movement of Jeremy Hunt into Health is also cause for concern - both in its indication of the contiuing influence of the Murdoch empire on the Coalition, and also for the fact that he's a man who has a record of being anti-abortion.

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