The Great Gove Mystery

ImageIt’s a mystery that he’s still in his job. It’s fair to say that most teachers hate Gove. It’s even fair to say that most teachers have no intention of voting for the Conservative party at forthcoming elections. Communications from my union indicate that teacher morale is low, low, low.

But let’s not be fooled into thinking that this is about personalities. Things would not be any better with a different education secretary, including one from the Labour party. The various weasels in the Shadow Cabinet are too busy pandering to the Daily Mail to listen to teachers. Sure, I hate Gove too. He’s a snivelling weasel of a man from whose lips lies drip like pus. But the fact that he’s still in his role in spite of his various underhand practices, and the scandals already attached to his so-called Free Schools policy, and the corruption and dishonesty attached to academy chains and their links to OFSTED contractors; the fact that he’s still in post in spite of all that shows that he is only doing what he has been tasked to do. In the eyes of the Prime Minister and his brutal  and destructive minority government, Gove is doing all right.

It’s ironic that, having voted for “no overall control”, the British electorate seem to have ended up with a government of wild-eyed ideologues whose macho posturing and determination not to compromise seems more extreme than the Thatcher government of 1979.

The damage being done to state education is deliberate and systematic. Into the vacuum left by the current bulldozing of exams and Maoist permanent revolution will step the freeloading private sector, with its cost-cutting and profit-skimming greed. That teachers are unhappy and leaving the profession is all part of the plan. As I’ve said before, we’re being deprofessionalised.

It’s already happening. Applied for a mortgage lately? Lenders no longer see teaching as one of the professions, and nor do insurers. It’s been happening in the USA, and it’s happening in the UK. Yeah, the more they talk about professional standards (Labour, too), the further they are from treating teachers as professionals. Everything’s the opposite of what it is.

How can they get away with this? They don’t care that teachers might not vote Tory – because they know they probably won’t vote at all. They also know that the voting system is so rigged with rotten boroughs that only the marginals matter. Democracy can’t help you now, especially if you vote Labour.

So don’t waste your energy hating Gove. Getting rid of him won’t help. Support your union, they’re your best hope. This weasel government has u-turned at least 45 times since 2010. They’re not strong, they’re weak: hence the macho posturing. If teachers stood up, as one, and brought the fucking country to a halt, we would win. And why we don’t do that is the greatest mystery of all.

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To scab or not to scab? (Spoiler alert: not to)

As someone who came of age during the Thatcher Apocalypse, I can hardly profess surprise that many of my colleagues aren’t supporting the strike today. Disappointed, of course. Ashamed, yes. Surprised, no.

I was talking to a colleague about this not long ago, and we had the same conversation before the last strike. Here we are – teachers who are “well over 30” striking in support of our profession, which is being deskilled, undermined, fucked around – while younger colleagues, especially those “well under 30” lower their heads and come in to work, complaining that they “can’t afford” to lose a day’s pay, or that striking “won’t do any good.”

Well, here’s a big fuck you from me to both of those statements. I can’t afford to lose a day pay, any more than I could afford not to have a pay rise for the past three years, or to increase my pension contributions, or to work for longer before I can retire. I can’t afford any of those things. I can’t afford to fuck around with admin instead of, you know, teaching. I can’t afford to keep up with Gove’s little announcements, the ever-moving goalposts, and the weasel announcements sneaked out in the middle of Olympic ceremonies, because he actually does know that what he’s doing is actually evil.

And you know what really won’t do any good? Doing nothing. Apart from the obvious fact that this weak government has U-turned about 65 times under pressure from various professions and protesters, doing nothing opens up a path to a very dark future for younger teachers. A future in which their pay and hours are set arbitrarily, locally. You may dig your head teacher now, but what happens when s/he is replaced with a complete cunt? What happens if your school converts to an academy, and some Friend of Gove’s comes in with his management qualification, and starts to try to skim money for his/her own £200,000 salary? What happens when a school declares that, because your class of drongoes didn’t pass their GCSEs, your pay increase won’t be happening?

A day’s pay is insignificant when compared to 25 years of being underpaid.

And if you really can’t see that, then you probably deserve the future that’s coming down the tracks at you.

As for the protection your union gives, wave it goodbye. The endgame for Gove and co is to smash the teaching unions, just as Thatcher smashed the miners’ union and the car workers’ unions. Smashing, right? And when a student makes a false accusation against you because they don’t want to do their homework, good luck dealing with that, with no union. When your classroom is too cold to teach in, or the roof leaks, or they tell you you have to (a) stay at work till 5 p.m., and (b) work Saturday mornings because (c) parents want free babysitting, good luck dealing with that without a union. Good luck dealing with a head teacher who doesn’t like your face.

I’m 51 this year, and I’ve got just 10 years or so of this shit to put up with. But you? You’re 25, you’ve got a young  family, a big mortgage; or you’re still living at home and can’t afford a mortgage, or to get married, or to have kids, not yet.

Good luck with your career.

And, I tell you this. When the OFSTED are in, or when the pressure is on, don’t imagine that we’re all in this together. Solidarnosc, comrade.

  • Scabs (teachingbattleground.wordpress.com)