What’s a free school and other Things That Got Me Mad

There’s been so much that I’ve wanted to blog about this week and I just haven’t found the time but some things annoy me so much that I just have to get it out.  So if you’re curious about what got me typing so furiously, here goes:

# It was the sentencing of that Baroness Scotland’s cleaner that got me started.  I mean, what the hell has she been locked up for?  Her tight-fisted and very wealthy employer ripped off the tax-payers and her punishment is to pay it back.  Her cleaner gets done for scrubbing floors for a measly few quid and her punishment is a prison sentence!  So she lied about her visa but bloody hell, she wasn’t out there beating up old ladies or claiming indecent expenses or anything.  She was working fer feck’s sake!  The mind boggles. It really does.  And I’m glad she’s managed to profit from her woes by telling her story to the papers.  Hell, her wealthy employer who spouts social justice and equality while claiming many thousands in expenses paid her cleaner barely above the minimum wage.

Anyway, now that I’m here, I might as well offload the other stuff so here goes . . .

##  It’s sad that, in this supposedly liberal and tolerant (haha!!) society, David (“the years of public sector plenty are over“) Laws felt the need to hide his sexuality.  He was doing himself and the gay community no favours by keeping it secret but ultimately, it was his decision and he had every right to keep his personal privacy, well, private.

As for the expenses thingy, that’s a different kettle of fish and what can I say except how silly of the man!  So he’s  not one of the worst expenses offenders but he was fully aware of public feeling over this and he still took his chances.  I don’t really care how wonderfully promising he was . . . what a great political loss and all that.  He wasn’t clever enough to realise he’d get caught and as a multi-millionaire himself, he had no need to fiddle the tax-payer in order to pay his partners mortgage for him – but to continue the deceit even after all the expenses hoo-ha while demanding that we suffer cuts in public spending is just too insulting so it’s bloody right that he should resign.  As with the illegal cleaner, we all know that benefit fraudsters and the like get thrown in jail so why should Mr. Integrity get away with fiddling.  If he really wanted to keep his sexuality private why didn’t he just not claim at all?  He’s a multi-millionaire for heavens sake!  It wouldn’t have hurt him.

What I found strangest though was that although his sexuality should be of no consequence, as a gay man, he clearly felt comfortable swapping values with a bunch of institutionally homophobic, nuclear family-obssessed Tory nutters.

### What the heck is a free school?  Seriously, I don’t know.  How do parents start one?  How is it free? Are the schools going to be in people’s houses?  Are the parents going to be the teachers and the grandma’s the welfare assistants (that’s dinner ladies to you and me)?  How will these schools be regulated?  I’m not kidding.  Call me stupid but I really don’t know how to picture these free schools.  And what happens to the kids when the parents get fed up of playing schools?  Do these wonder-parents expect the state schools (which will have been run down to neglectful levels by now) to take them back in? Can these super free schools be selective in who they admit?  I mean are they free to say no to difficult or special-needs kids so that they might remain exclusive and high up in the league tables?  What about anti-discrimination laws and stuff?  Can these free schools be exempt from them?  Will they be allowed to have whites only schools?  Will Mad Melanie Phillpots scream and stamp her feet at the number of Islamic schools popping up?  Questions, questions.

All this talk of competition driving up the standards is a bit worrying when it comes to education because it usually results in inequality whereby the middle-classes benefit and the poorest slip further down as usual.  And so it goes that those who already have it all shall be given more and those who hath very little shall have it taken away.

And why does this silly government wish to take power away from the local education authorities and give it to private enterprise and invite Outstanding schools to become Academies when, as Charles Tyrie from Nottingham pointed out in this letters article, it’s the local education authorities that have delivered the ‘Outstanding’ status of these schools.  Is it a case of thanks for doing all the hard work, now bugger off?  And more concerns – to paraphrase a paragraph from aforementioned Letters article, all those school services (IT, payroll, personnel, training, school dinners etc.)  that were provided by the councils will be sold to the Academies by sponsors – with profit in mind.  Yep, I can smell private profiteering.  I always can when the Tories are around.  I’m just not comfortable with the fact that private firms are about to have a huge influence on the education and wider school life of our children.  And after reading said Letters page, my suspicion is confirmed.  To quote Patti Rundall . . .

Commercial sponsorship of “education” is not philanthropy – it assists the corporate agenda on many levels. Not only does it blur the boundaries between advertising, marketing and education; it helps the most dangerous corporations build public trust and re-establish themselves as forces for good. Before long the curriculum is distorted in favour of business interests – and our children start believing that companies can be trusted to regulate themselves.


#### Probably the Thing That Got Me Mad the most is the BP oil leak.  Well I say mad but utterly heartbroken and dismayed is closer to how I feel.  It doesn’t need me to tell you that it’s an absolutely tragic and catastrophic man-made event on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.  I imagine Obama now severely regrets allowing the field to be opened for exploration but we all know that hindsight is a pretty useless ability and Obama should know that if Sarah Palin thinks it’s right then it very definitely isn’t.

It’s just terrible to see all that destruction and loss of life by such a dirty, uncleanable fossil fuel that the oil-heads have come to love so much that they will pursue it endlessly, risking any and every disastrous consequence in order to fill their barrels.

BP has apparently been downplaying the level of devastation that has occurred and this is dangerous in itself because it’s misleading and the destruction is ongoing.  From what I’ve heard, the extent of the damage is unknown, probably limitless and it begs the question, how many more of these disasters are we willing to cause before it’s too late?

We all know how much we’ve come to depend on the black stuff but if this disaster doesn’t demonstrate just how dirty and dangerous oil drilling is then I really doubt that we will ever, ever learn, such is the stupidity of humans.


Well, that’s it I think.  The end of Things That Got Me Mad.  Well there’s more but I want to think happy thoughts now so here’s a picture or two of where we were last week.  Please note that we actually climbed that waterfall.  And you may be amused to know that I fell while walking through Malham village, right in front of a café and a pub full of people sitting at the tables outside, enjoying the weather and being entertained by the stunts of a loony woman who can’t tie the laces of her walking boots . . . and kids rolling on the floor laughing at their undignified mother making a complete arse of herself.  But I soldiered on.  We climbed Gordale Scar (no mean feat I can tell you) and jumped and skipped across the limestone pavements to Malham Tarn.  And on the way back we rescued a little lamb who got lost from its frantic mother.  A lovely day full of sunburnt shoulders, freckles, squashed butties and water.  Lot’s of water.   Well it was HOT!

Erm, I really hurt my elbow when I fell.  Thank you.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Reading this post about the Baroness’s maid, fiddling politicians, etc., your prophet Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to mind. There are animals more equal than others. Laws or not laws.

    I am sorry to hear of your fall but pleased to notice you are keeping being your exceptional self.

    Bless you.


  2. Animal Farm is a perfect comparison. Spot on Jose. And welcome back. My elbow is beginning to heal now, thanks. It was a bit of a mess. Looked like I’d been skateboarding. Lol.


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