Do you know anyone exiled from our corporate police state? My best friend has just fled to Spain rather than face the violence of privatised education, state and corporate harassment. As per the Manic Street Preacher's lyric, We're all refugees now.
An exaggeration you think? Surely no one actually has to flee Britain?
What would you do?
After twenty years on Hackney's housing list without once being offered accommodation. Shuffling between squats, friends homes and rented flats. He was a key figure in HCDA, the 1990s revolutionary grassroots support group for victims of Hackney's violent cops. HCDA teamed up with lawyers and journalists to put Stokey Cokey criminal cops in the dock. But the State always fights back. Apparently his role in exposing police violence got him blacklisted by Hackney's dodgy housing department.
Finally he was forced to buy on the rebuilt Nightingale Estate; part rent, part buy. A lovely flat overlooking the Downs only there's no insulation in the walls so in winter the condensation causes mould in the bedroom. He's had pleurisy twice! Southern Housing, the freeholder, denies any responsibility as do Zurich, the insurers. Councillors and MPs quickly lost interest when it became obvious the whole development is a disaster. Less than 10 years old and the windows don't fit, you can see light through the cracks. Most of the boilers have failed and had to be replaced. The cheap plastic pipes will also need replacing soon, only they're embedded beneath the concrete floors. Part rape, part pillage, the reality of capitalist home owning democracy.
He takes up teaching only to see the profession destroyed by New Labour's corporate thuggery. Ten years on and there's not a school in Hackney or east London he doesn't know. A carnage of teachers persecuted by Ofsted, mountains of meaningless paperwork, classes crowded with kids with behavioural and emotional issues and a curriculum that speaks nothing of their lives. Hackney kids don't matter to the privatised Learning Trust or corporate academies. The assault on teaching has been unremitting. Former Mossbourne head, now Ofsted fuhrer, Sir Michael Wilshaw expressly advocates creating low teacher morale in schools. The sadist lists Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry as his hero and says heads should seek power and enjoy exercising it. Meanwhile the failure of the Learning Trust privatisation experiment is being re-engineered into even greater authoritarianism with the terrifying Best Start Federation where teachers are forced to kneel at assemblies and kids are taught the Federation 'Stop sign' hand salute. This stuff is really scary. Teachers are selected for their passivity, inexperience and youth being told at interview they are never to challenge Executive Principal Greg Wallace. 25 years ago Hackney's education department was run by Professor Gus John, a radical left-wing black activist, one suspects this complete about turn has not been achieved without significant intervention from MI5. After all the children are our future. Certainly the spooks have shown no small interest in my friend and former HCDA comrade. We expected that. We just didn't expect the entire Labour movement to adopt Thatcherism and participate in the counter-revolution.
The privatisation of education, and health, necessarily has obscene consequences. Profiteering temp agencies are one of the most disgusting of those. Siphoning public money from schools into off shore tax havens greedy salesmen compete to push down wages to make themselves millions. Irate with one agency my friend switched to another only to agree on a daily rate at interview which was instantly dishonoured. The bastards don't even pay what they've written in their own contract. When challenged the crooks literally said 'we'll it's a business isn't it'! Jesus these people need shooting. This is 'Free Market', rampant extortion and wage slavery orchestrated by clueless parasites whose only talent is deception. They explicitly push teachers to open their own off shore tax dodges if they want more the £115 a day to work long hours in schools even with 10 years experience. Funny you don't hear much about these criminals when the media are whining about exploiting the public purse.
With the recession and even third sector charities too cliquey and middle class to recognise his talents my best mate escaped to Spain today. We were both tearful as he left. Hackney will miss a rare talent that offered hope and security to damaged kids. His wisdom and integrity combined with a compassion that meant no child, however disturbed, would be denied his guidance and love. He has told me of kids who went on to meet violent deaths and his pain at not having been able to stall the foreseeable tragedy. But there's no league tables of stabbed teenagers at Ofsted, only juicy headlines and Warhol's 15 minutes of the child death celebrity.
Many of us will miss his amazing Paul Robeson voice, his saxophone, his acting, poetry and painting (see above). I'll will miss his giant figure and gentle smile but most of all his solid honesty and love. Racism, class prejudice and post capitalist insanity made it impossible for his wonderful gifts and generosity to survive here. But most of all the vicious agents of control attacked him for his integrity and honour. Be they landlords (Southern Housing), teaching agencies (Protocol, Just Teachers), head teachers or spooks; they came for him because he refused to be silent. How many beautiful people must flee or commit suicide before we speak openly of this violence? If you tolerate this then your children will be next.
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