Friday, March 18, 2016

Education for competitiveness

Twenty or so people turned up for the Education Question Times meeting in Richmond last night. Our candidate got equal time with the others.

The discussion was mainly, but not entirely, on education. In answer to the last question, the other candidates confirmed our candidate's assertion that under capitalism the education system's main role was to turn out for employers workers of required types in the required numbers. They, and NUT Deputy General Secretary Kevin Courtney, spoke in terms of the need for a better education system in Britain to improve Britain's competitive position on the world market.

Only the UKIP candidate, Alan Caaig, dissented a little, saying he agreed with the socialist candidate that this was not what education should be about. A bit embarrasing but then he is a christian and so probably has a pre-capitalist view of education. He had in fact been the leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance until 2013 when he defected to UKIP. He wasn't heckled, so Richmond NUT can't have any SWP members as the SWP pursue a no-platform policy towards UKIP. He spoke last and got in a plug for the Vote Leave EU campaign. Speaking to him afterwards, he was surprised to learn that we weren't in favour of this but were neither for nor against as he expected a socialist to be against "the capitalist EU".

The Labour candidate, Martin Whetton, is the Merton Council's Cabinet Member for Education, i.e a full-time professional politician. He used up most of his 5-minute introduction urging people to vote for Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London. Incidentally, there's a full-page ad for him in this week's London local papers painting him as "The Council Estate Boy who will fix the Tory Housing Crisis". Oh yes? So he's going to buck the law of supply and demand?

The Liberal spokesperson (not a candidate for the constituency but on the LibDems all-London list), Merlene Emerson, said she was from Singapore and is the founder of the Chinese Liberal Democrats. Which may explain the presence of a reporter/photographer from a free English-language paper available in Soho. So, if anyone's there next week, pick up a copy to see if we get a mention.

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