Chomsky:1215 and all that…

Copyright Synne Tonidas

John Curran 

Professor Noam Chomsky the world`s leading public intellectual viewed by some as a wild-eyed radical is actually an old fashioned conservative. He is committed to the traditional values of Magna Carta, a document that shaped the Anglo-American legal system, ultimately establishing a presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. With this thought in mind, it is worth considering how traditional conservative ideas are today viewed as radical in both the USA and UK. As we know the Conservative Party in opposition went through a re-branding process as Cameron appeared to move his party leftward and in doing so rediscovered the Conservatives civil liberties antecedents. When the coalition government was formed, one significant judicial appointment was that of Dominic Grieve MP who, as Shadow Justice Spokesperson, was viewed as a politician with strong civil libertarian credentials he became Attorney General and the Coalition`s chief legal adviser. In a lecture given in 2008 Mr Grieve outlined what he saw as the essence of what it means to be British, extolling the virtues of freedom waxing lyrically about Magna Carta and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. But he was concerned that New Labour was dismissive of this heritage, as evidenced by restrictions of jury trail and permitting unacceptable periods of detention without trial. Grieve felt that the pendulum had swung too far and that the climate created by New Labour was one of tyranny. Labour he argued breached the ideals of the Bill of Rights and undermined the notion of Habeas Corpus. Grieve together with the Shadow Justice Minister, produced a policy document called `Reversing the rise of the surveillance state 2009`. Outlining concerns about a perceived reduction in citizen`s civil liberties in an eleven-point programme. Grieve now resides in a government that has generated concerns about civil liberties and Cameron has recently demonstrated the Tories have forgotten what Magna Carta means.     Read more of this post

Ed Miliband Leader of the Left?

Nora Connolly 

Ed Miliband on the mic

Copyright archived Department of Energy

Ed Miliband is the leader of the Left, a revelation made recently in a broadcast with BBC/Independent journalist Steve Richards. Although, Miliband appears more interested in identifying himself with Conservative politicians, concepts and with Mrs Thatcher`s legacy – obsequiously describing her as a conviction politician. In his early thirties we discover that Miliband`s summer reading was Iain Macleod’s biography, Ed Milibands`s `One Nation` agenda clearly has had a longer gestation period than cynics might have thought. The Disraeli citation highlighted in the broadcast was further evidence that the philosophical underpinning of Miliband`s big idea is a Conservative/reactionary one. The only left-winger mentioned during the programme was Ralph Miliband, the father of the Labour leader, a brilliant Marxist thinker who sadly died in 1994.

Miliband`s position was considered analogous to Mrs Thatcher`s period in opposition, a correlation that allowed for a comparison with Miliband by Charles Moore. Richards returned to Thatcher`s legacy indicating that she developed a strong populist message, a political outsider who produced a critique of the former government led by Ted Heath in which she served. A politician who overturned the Keynesian post-war consensus, whose populist message was based on the notion that the state needed to get off peoples backs.  Read more of this post

Institutional Racism In The Academy by Andrew Pilkington

LeftCentral Book Review 

Wall of Books

Copright Mr.T in DC

On April 22nd 1993, Stephen Lawrence was murdered, “Stephen was stabbed to death because he was black” this highly disturbing and incontrovertible finding emanates from a judicial inquiry, the Macpherson Report (1999), set up in 1997 to examine the flawed Police investigation into Stephen Lawrence`s murder. An investigation marred by a combination of factors most notably, “institutional racism” within the Police. As Professor Pilkington outlines the inquiry went further admitting that “institutional racism was rife in British Society”. Andrew Pilkington utilises institutional racism as a conceptual tool to investigate Midshire Police and Midshire University, an ambitious endeavour producing a stimulating book.

Pilkington unravels the thorny concept of institutional racism a term initially associated with Stokely Carmichael a Black Power critic of USA racial policy. There has been significant resistance in applying this concept to the UK, for example the Scarman Report (1981) rejected the notion. This reticence may be valid given the racial landscape that Carmichael/Hamilton surveyed in 1967, with its heritage of de facto and de jure racism, making direct comparison with the UK difficult. However, Pilkington quoting Carmichael illustrates that, “Institutional racism also has another name: colonialism” a concept in which British institutions are clearly not immune.  Read more of this post

Tory Hate and Red Tape-equality impact assessment and analysis

Robin Richardson 

Cameron CBI 2012

Copyright HarveyNash

On Monday 19 November the prime minister made a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). In it he made a claim which was at best disingenuous and at worst deceitful. Either way the claim was unlikely to rally his own core supporters, for they will quickly recognise that it was empty and misleading rhetoric. Further, it is extremely unlikely to give a valuable moral direction to society as a whole.

Mr Cameron claimed his government is going to abolish equality impact assessments (EQUIAs). This was naïve and misleading, or downright deceitful, because the decision to abolish equality impact assessments was formally taken on 8 April 2010, namely several weeks before Mr Cameron entered Downing Street two and a half years ago. That was the day the Equality Act 2010 received royal assent. EQUIAs ceased to be required from 6 April 2011, which was the day when the new public sector equality duty (PSED) established by the Equality Act came into effect.

However much he hates what he calls red tape, Mr Cameron cannot abolish a requirement that does not exist. So why did he mislead or lie to the CBI? Were he and his speechwriters simply mistaken? Or did they gamble on nobody in their audience, and nobody in the media, knowing or caring about the truth? And on the inability of people who do know the truth to make their voices effectively heard? Whatever his motivations and levels of knowledge and ignorance, what is the likely effect of his false claim? Read more of this post

Reflections from the decades interview with Robin Richardson

Robin Richardson interview with Sharon Duncan 

Robin Richardson

Robin Richardson speaking at Cross Border Human Rights Education Conference Belfast

Robin Richardson was the first director of the World Studies Project, 1973–79, set up by the One World Trust in London. He then became an adviser for multicultural education in local government (1979–1985) and the chief inspector for education in a London borough (1985–1990). From 1991 onwards he was director of the Runnymede Trust, a think-tank specialising in issues of race equality and cultural diversity.

Since 1996 Robin has been an independent consultant. His publications over the years include Learning for Change in World Society (1976), Daring to be a Teacher (1990) and Holding Together: equalities, difference and cohesion (2009). His most recent books are Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British media (2011), co-edited with Julian Petley, and Changing Life Changes: projects and endeavours in schools (2012).

There is information about Robin’s recent and current work at http://www.insted.co.uk. He is interviewed here on behalf of the International Association for Intercultural Education (IAIE) by Sharon Duncan.

Sharon Duncan: Before we begin, I would like to thank you on behalf of the IAIE membership for agreeing to do this interview. As someone who continues to have an important influence on radical educators in the UK and further afield, this interview will provide intercultural educators with a privileged opportunity to reflect on issues that are central to our world vision. I would like to start, however, by asking you about your formative years; where you grew up, your family, your schooling and whether it is possible to identify a key experience or person (a turning point) that might have influenced the educational path for social justice you were to follow later in life.

Robin Richardson: I was born in 1936 in Birmingham. My father at that time was a bank clerk, and we lived in the small flat above the branch where he served each day behind the counter. He and my mother lived modestly and frugally, but they certainly weren’t poor and they spent money on private education for their three children, of whom I was the eldest, until the age of 11. My father had been a keen sportsman in his youth – rugby, cricket, swimming, boxing, tennis – and throughout my teenage years he was the men’s singles champion at a local tennis club. My mother, for her part, was the ladies champion at a church badminton club.

They were prudish in their attitudes to sex and related matters, and socially conservative in most of their opinions, and voted Conservative in all elections. The principal intellectual influence on them was Charles Dickens. My father had a complete set of Dickens’s novels and would often take down a volume and read a passage aloud to his children for their entertainment and moral instruction. Alas, the children were not as appreciative as they should have been, and this is one of the regrets I have about my childhood, looking back. Another regret is that I didn’t inherit any of my father’s sporting prowess. Read more of this post

Book Review:Changing Life Chances by Robin Richardson.

Peter D`Sena

Peter D`Sena

Peter D`Sena Discipline Lead History,Higher Education Academy

According to the Department for Education (DfE), almost 1.2 million children in England live in a lower-income household (as defined by eligibility for free school meals); and from that group only 27% of the 16-year olds achieve five A* to C grades at GCSE, compared with 54% of others.

No wonder the DfE in their Equality Impact Statement (2011) came to the enormously miserable and powerful conclusion that ‘we are clearly, as a nation, still wasting talent on a scandalous scale.  It is a moral failure and an affront to social justice’.  Using government documentation such as this Robin Richardson quickly and convincingly launches into this short book, showing us that we are living in a period when, paradoxical as it may seem because things are both getting better and worse at the same time, the achievement gap is growing wider between children.

The recent Equalities Act (2010) then comes under Richardson’s microscope and the result is a succinct, yet robust rationale for practitioners working in the field.  His effective argument is that to the Act’s nine protected characteristics of disability, ethnicity and race, gender, religion and so on, we should also add socio-economic inequality, brought through poverty, low income and social class.  And, just as a core principle of the Act is that ‘due regard’ is a necessity in order to carry its objectives into practice, so too should schools and individuals develop, demonstrate and practice ‘due regard’ in all they do in order to narrow the gap. Read more of this post

The British Gunner and the Irish Civil War

Nora Connolly

Michael Collins

Copyright drick

The BBC Radio 4`s investigative history series (Document) has unearthed evidence concerning a sensitive period in Anglo-Irish relations, the programme focuses on a primary source written by a British soldier, Percy Creek which undermines the nationalist foundations underpinning the establishment of the Irish state and potentially damages the heroic status of Michael Collins.

On the 6 December 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed and ratified in Dail Eireann January 1922. This granted dominion status or partial sovereignty to the twenty-six counties, amongst other things the British held various sea-ports in the South and significantly the island was partitioned with the North remaining within the United Kingdom.

As the broadcast explains the Anglo-Irish Agreement led to a split in the Irish Republican movement, into pro and anti-Treaty camps. In April 1922 anti-Treaty forces took control of Dublin`s Four-Courts, while a general election was underway in the South, resulting in the pro-Treaty forces gaining power. Those supporting the agreement included Michael Collins, Richard Mulcahy and Arthur Griffiths and on the anti-Treaty side De Valera and Rory O`Connor. A political split eventually led to armed insurrection and Civil War, a bitter struggle the first shot fired on the 28 June 1922, when the Provisional Government led by Collins attacked the Four-Courts – then under the control of Rory O`Connor – attempting a re-run of the 1916 Easter Uprising – he was executed in December 1922. Read more of this post

Remember, remember, this month of November

Robin Richardson is a director of the Insted consultancy, and is the editor with Julian Petley of Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British media, published in 2011. 

UNESCO

Copyright Buster/Buddy Unesco HQ

On the evening of Monday 5 November  I returned to London from an international  conference in Paris. As the plane made its descent towards Heathrow, the city landscape beneath me was alive with the sparkle of fireworks. The conference had been at UNESCO’s headquarters and had been about addressing racisms, particularly the form of racism known as Islamophobia, in and through European and North American education systems. The fireworks across London were a sparkling reminder, anyway potentially and anyway in principle, that racisms containing a religious component have been alive and kicking in Europe for many centuries.

‘Remember, remember,’ we have said annually to children in Britain over the years, ‘the fifth of November.’ And we have added, sternly if ungrammatically, that we ‘see no reason/ why gunpowder treason/ should ever be forgot.’

We have too rarely, though, remembered to tell our children that there was a strong religious element in the mutual hostility that existed between King James on the one hand and the Gunpowder Plot ‘traitors’ on the other. And we have not remembered to refer, even obliquely, to present-day prejudices and intolerance which similarly are imbued with a religious component, for example Islamphobia. Nor have we remembered to point to the similarities and differences between Islamophobia and colour-based racisms. Read more of this post

You Can`t Say That (Memoirs) by Ken Livingstone

Book review 

Livingstone Ken

copyright Amplified2010

This is a highly readable account of Livingstone`s life beginning with his early years in post-war Britain, a world resembling Mike Leigh`s depiction in `Vera Drake’. London is an incredibly boring place lacking cultural diversity home life dominated by the Daily Express. His Conservative voting parents were socially enlightened although Victorian values permeated Livingstone`s upbringing, to escape he read Orwell, political awakening coming from Horowitz in 1967 `From Yalta to Vietnam`. Harold Wilson`s position on Rhodesia transformed Livingstone`s initially high opinion of the Labour leader and Livingstone delayed joining the party repelled by Callaghan`s treatment of Kenyan Asians.

Racism was a strong generational factor his uncle a member of Mosley`s Black-shirts who refused to watch television featuring black or Irish personalities. Livingstone outlines the racist Conservative campaign during the Smethwick election in 1964 setting the tone for UK politics. The Labour Party mimicked this agenda illustrated by comments made by Mellish and Richard Crossman, notable non-racist exceptions such as  John Fraser MP encouraged black political participation which attracted Livingstone to the Labour Party. Livingstone also worked at Chester Beatty with brilliant “research doctor” Tom Connors and drew closer to Ghanaian colleagues because of Ian Smith`s “racist government in Rhodesia”. Read more of this post

Howard Zinn and the Myth of the Good War.

Howard Zinn

Copyright Howard Zinn/Voices

Nora Connolly

As Remembrance Sunday approaches our thoughts will soon turn to the horrendous casualties of war, indeed the armistice date for me conjures up many ambivalent feelings. I consider the First World War a pointless loss of life, lion`s led by donkey`s a clear example of a bad war without a rationale or justification. But I honour the falling on both sides, the majority of whom were working-class people duped or compelled by a cruel system to do it`s bidding.

The Second World War is different a “people’s war” fought to end fascism a noble endeavour to defeat the tyranny of the fascist jackboot. But have I by accepting this view of the Second World War as a worthy conflict, fallen victim to what Howard Zinn called the `Myth of the Good War`?  Are not all wars by their very nature bad and could other ways of combating fascism have been found. Read more of this post

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