School students being made to pay for capitalist crisisFebruary 8, 2014
Michael Gove’s Department for Education is to make a new line of biting attacks on college students, as part of yet more cutbacks that students must bear. This is despite the failing economy being thanks to a capitalist government – we didn’t cause this crisis and yet we’re being made to pay for it.
Recently, Gove announced that his department is to make tens of millions of pounds worth of cutbacks to funding for state-run sixth-form colleges across Britain. The effects have been near enough immediate, with almost half (48%) of sixth-form colleges cutting courses, and roughly 78% have been forced to reduce staffing levels around the colleges.
Since 2010, the Tory-led coalition government have made sweeping attacks on our hospitals, schools, welfare, and other public places, with cutbacks to various state-run institutions, and even the selling off of Royal Mail into the private market. It should come as no surprise that the next line of attacks are to be targeted at college students, who must now suffer the brunt of Tory cutbacks and the creeping privatisation of education institutions wherein a child’s education is dependent on contracts, profit, and the market.
People are beginning to realise that enough is enough. From various conversations with workers and students, it’s obvious that people are starting to see the problems with a government that defends capitalism, and people are becoming disillusioned with the generic parliamentary ping pong that is British parliament with no-one offering any alternative.
The fact that the mass organisations of the working class are failing to offer an alternative to capitalism has the potential to create a real problem. A failure of the Left to offer socialist policies will lead to defeats for the working class struggle and will drive people into political apathy or even towards right wing parties such as UKIP.
I have the unfortunate experience of encountering some of these reactionary trends in my own college. Their arguments are simplistic and dangerous. Why people believe that nationalism is the answer to the problems of British workers and students is beyond me – clearly a global crisis of capitalism can only be solved through proletarian internationalism, not an attempt to strengthen capitalism in one country. And yet if we fail to spread and fight for the ideas of socialism then we risk these ideas slipping further into the political mainstream.
It is therefore down to us, as revolutionaries, to sow the unshakeable foundations of a revolutionary proletariat (workers and youth alike), who are willing to fight for a brighter future and human progress.
What is to be done?
I can illustrate my next point with an experience I had with a panel of Tory and Liberal MPs and councillors about three weeks ago.
The college I attend held an event for politics and business students wherein there was a panel of MPs and councillors, and whilst there was a selected set of questions to ask (put forward by students themselves), we could also ask other questions. I asked why there was an 11% pay increase for MPs and an increase in funding for the Monarchy while the self-same MPs were attempting to justify their rash cutbacks, most of which only hit the worst off in society.
My question was, for the first ten minutes, completely ignored. Then, the Tory MP, at whom the question was directed, finally answered, saying something along the lines of: “MPs aren’t deciding their own pay rise; it is done by an independent think tank which has the power do so. Who am I to turn away that pay increase? I, and many other MPs, certainly wouldn’t. As for the Monarchy funding, I have no answer.”
I thought not. It’s interesting how the question had to be diverted at first, and even then wasn’t answered particularly thoroughly!
To link this back to the original topic, I should add that it’s disgusting how Tories can justify cutting away the vital services for an educated and creative youth whilst filling their own pockets with an 11% pay increase for all 650 MPs!
What must also be noted is the sheer amount lost to things such as tax avoidance and tax havens, corporation tax cuts, and subsidies for the rich. In fact, the following figures are a real eye-opener:
- It is estimated that, owing to tax avoidance, the British economy loses out on approximately £25 billion each year, with £13 billion being tax avoidance from individuals and £12 billion being tax avoidance by the largest 700 corporations.
- Furthermore, it is estimated that another £8 billion is lost, each year, to tax planning by Britain’s wealthiest, i.e. those earning over £100,000 yearly.
- Just recently, the British government lowered the additional-rate tax boundary from 50 per cent., to 45% (to those earning over £150,000 yearly).
- In 2013, the Queen’s income – funded by the taxpayer – rose an extra 5%, from £36.1 million to £37.89 million.
These are just four short bullet points of a huge possible list. These, however, are some of the most prominent examples of the squandering by the elite. These examples of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer are a reflection of the root cause of the neglect of the people – capitalism’s insatiable pursuit of profit at all costs. The current crisis means that this inequality is now stretching even further, with sixth-form students now footing the bill for capitalism’s crisis, thus joining the pensioners, hospitals, welfare recipients, and children who are suffering the austerity.
Gove and his vision of an education system and a society open to the ravages of capitalism is becoming all too much, and it seems that with each year passing he is trying evermore to push that vision to reality, even though it means misery, poverty and crisis for millions of people.
It is time for action.
by Sam Hall, Portsmouth