Following revelations that Caroline Flint, Blairite candidate for deputy leader of the Labour Party, has the backing of the corporate lobbyist group Sovereign Strategy (which counts among its clients the company responsible for judging disabled people fit for work) the news that she is also being backed in her bid for election by Simply Alliance Ltd., the shady company behind the Docklands Academy should come as no surprise. This business is the second largest donor to Flint’s campaign, giving her “office space” to the value of £15,300.
Simply Alliance’s Docklands Academy is a private college in London that runs courses in business, tourism and hospitality. However, in 2012 the Quality Assurance Agency released a report that found the way the courses were being run was “a significant threat to academic standards”; that “teaching staff demonstrated limited understanding” and were lacking in appropriate qualifications; and that its course guidance “misinforms students and staff”.
Docklands Academy was also involved in the debacle surrounding the London campus of the University of South Wales (USW). In a scandalous series of events, the USW spent £319,000 preparing to open its new campus in London, for which Docklands Academy was supposed to host the students. In July of this year the project collapsed having enrolled zero students, and now, due to lack of funds, 90 staff at one of the university’s Caerleon campus in Newport face redundancy.
To cap it all, according to Private Eye magazine, “some years before Simply Alliance Ltd backed Flint, the founding directors resigned after being arrested for defrauding government education schemes.”
In short then, Docklands Academy is a textbook example of a cost-cutting, profit-before-students educational institution that we are set to see more of as education is torn apart by the market and privatised.
That Caroline Flint is willing to take hefty sums of money from this company speaks volumes about the kind of people Blairite candidates really represent. They are not about protecting the interests of students and education staff, but are more concerned with promoting the interests of wealthy companies whose only interest in education is as something that they can make money out of.
Compare this to Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for leadership of the Labour Party, during which he has raised over £220,000 through individual donations from members of the public and contributions from the organised working class through the trade unions. This difference in funding is a political one, and it shows the political gulf between the right-wing Blairites and the the traditional principles and values of the Labour Party.
Marxist students stand firmly on the side of Corbyn and the ordinary people who fund his campaign against the Blairite candidates Cooper, Kendall and Burnham. Flint, one example of a politician cut from the same Blairite cloth as these three, has ideas (and financial backers) that represent an attack on Corbyn’s politics. We must defend Corbyn, and fight for socialism.