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Hands Up if you Want a Better Education System?

lisegagne

I’ve been surprised throughout this election at the lack of questioning during hustings and interviews about education.

With cuts being felt right across the county, we really should be more focused on this issue that we are.  I was tweeted tonight by a parent led group campaigning against cuts in school funding in Oxfordshire asking if I realised just how bad the situation was. 

At this point I’m the only candidate to reply.  But maybe the others will catch up later.

But playing catch-up seems to be the way for our education system, with a report coming out only a few days ago on the dire state of repair of some school buildings. As someone who went to school in the 70s, I find it shocking that we should have let our education system become so under-valued in such a short period of time.

My best friend from back in those days keeps in touch with me, and he has just retired as a senior head teacher.  He now does consultancy work for schools that are suffering under the same system he battled through.  Essentially the privatisation of our education system that does little to help students and puts a lot of money into the pockets of Academy shareholders.

The future of our children should not be for sale to the highest bidder, and we should not be seeing a situation where parents have to raise hundreds of pounds to subsidise books or pay for bus passes so their children can actually get to school.  Again, I remember free bus passes for school-children, but that seems like a long-lost utopia now.

We need an education system that provides opportunity to everyone. Schools that cater for all levels of ability and aspiration. The chance for everyone who wants to move on to further and higher education to do so without saddling themselves with a lifetime of debt.

We also need to value our teachers and educators, paying them a decent salary and ensuring they have fair conditions to work in.  Like doctors and nurses they are taken far too much for granted and expected to cope with appalling stress simply because they are dedicated people.

The Conservative’s promises of extra funding don’t come close to addressing the problems that have been stored up over the past 10 years.  Their so-called ‘extra’ spending amounts to nothing more than setting the clock back to the point before they imposed austerity on us all.

See the Green Party Manifesto by clicking here.  Go to page 55 to see our comprehensive range of proposals and policies about revitalising our education system and bringing schools into the 21sct century, whilst unlocking the potential of students and teachers at all levels.

A proper education for the next generation should be a priority for all of us.  Without that what kind of world are we building for our children and ourselves?

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Let’s Get Brexit Done With!

brexit

We should have a second referendum on Brexit with a properly informed and unbiased debate on all the issues surrounding our relationship with the EU.

This has to happen immediately after the election to allow parliament to get back to dealing with the serious challenges facing this country. We don’t need to get brexit done, we need to be done with it, one way or the other, and the only way to decide that is with a vote.

The Green Party is now the ONLY party offering this option as a main policy pledge.

Labour would renegotiate a deal with Europe which we have to assume they would back in any confirmatory referendum (assuming they honour their pledge to give us one). That defines them as a leave backing party. Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that he would be neutral in that campaign shows a continuation of the lack of direction that Labour has had since this whole thing began. If they’re going to back Remain, then why negotiate another deal (assuming that’s even possible), they should be honest with the electorate and get off the fence!

The Libdems are standing on a platform of revoke without a second vote, which I regard as deeply undemocratic. We got ourselves into this position democratically, and we have to get out of it the same way. We can’t simply treat the first vote as if it didn’t happen. the claim that an electoral victory that would put them into government goes against their own argument (and the Green Party’s) that our electoral system is broken. Unless they had more than 50% of the electorate voting them into power, that would not be a mandate for a revoking Article 50. As most governments of recent years have been elected on less that 30%, they would not be able to claim they were taking the majority of the country with them.

As for the Tories, we know they would throw us off the cliff-edge with or without a deal, without a second thought, let alone a second referendum! Just so that Boris Johnson could claim that he’d “got Brexit done”. Even if that means the majority of the country that now appears to want to remain would get ‘done over’!

Democracy did not stop in 2016. We’ve seen over the past three and a half years that the easy Brexit we were told we would get after the referendum has proved anything but. Not only does this suggest that people may have changed their minds, it also means that the demographic of the country has changed and that new population, who will have to deal with the outcome of Brexit, should now get a say. Either way, we know a lot more now about the reality of Brexit than any of us did back in 2016. Surely we should all be able to re-assess our decisions based on this new information.

Most polls now say the majority would vote to remain in the EU. I don’t know if that’s true, or if that’s how a second vote would pan out. But I think we should find out.

I also think those who say the ‘will of the people’ is still to leave shouldn’t be scared to find out. If they’re right, the result of the vote will be the same. If they’re worried that it might not be, that suggests they know that the will of the people has changed, and they simply want to ignore that. That’s not democracy. That’s ignoring the will of the people!

My personal position is that a second vote should be binding (the first one wasn’t) and after that, the decision is final. If that decision is to leave, I will no longer challenge it. I would instead switch my focus to working towards mitigating the worst of the damage that I think will inevitably be done to the social and economic fabric of this country.

Leaving the EU by any means will result in at least a decade of economic hardship for everyone, with the poorest in our society suffering the most.

Parliamentary time will be used up on dealing with the fallout from the severing of our membership of the EU rather than tackling urgent business, such as crumbling public services and climate change.

Businesses will suffer and investment will fall (except in the case of US drugs companies seeking to buy our NHS!).

We must not condemn our citizens to this fate without a fully informed confirmatory vote.