This is a plea, primarily, to those working in education: teachers, teaching assistants, lecturers, professors and administrative staff. This is the sector that I work in. But it is also a plea to all. The General Election, on June 8th, is probably one of the most important elections for a generation. It may look like the Tories have already got it won with a commanding lead in the polls. But they haven’t. There is everything to play for yet.
If the Tories were to win another term in power, there would be further devastating cuts to public-sector education. It would be privatized, commidified and marketized further. This destruction would lead to a diminished service and unequal access. The notion of a quality, free at the point of use, universal education service, from early years through to higher education would be at an end. Replaced by a poorer outsourced system of provision.
The Tory education system will lead us to for-profit schooling, where the wealthiest will be able to extract profits, subsidized by the state, from our children’s attendance at school and college. It is called choice, but it is no choice at all. It is the creation of a market and commodity where there should be none.
On the other hand, the Labour Party offers a public service vision of education. A National Education Service which will be universal, inclusive and free at the point of use. No markets, no commodification, no privatisation.
It is not just education, it is health, welfare and the values and principles by which the citizens of the UK want to live their lives. In the last 40 years, there has been a growing preoccupation with individual achievement and income. Competing with one another has drowned out our sense of community. It has overridden the essential value of taking care of one another. People are growing tired of this. We seek a change. A better balance between individual and collective. One in which we can be individually successful, through our endeavours, and collectively successful, through what we share.
Not in my lifetime has the Labour Party offered such a bold, positive and hopeful vision for the future. One in which the economy works for all, rather than for a tiny percentage of the population. One in which we have properly funded public services. And one in which we have full employment which offers fair reward, conditions and progress in return.
This is the vision of the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn has been the subject of immense personal attack from the media, from other political parties and even from within his own party. However, he has withstood this without one word of abuse in retaliation. He has shown steely determination in pursuing a programme of reforms that have the best interests of the majority of people in the UK.
In the past, we have relied on presidential style leadership. We have expected that, once elected, a political party will act for us all, going about their work intelligently, efficiently and effectively. But they haven’t, they have focused on soundbite and swing voter. Too often, they have been self-interested or acted in the interests of too few.
In Corbyn, we have a very different kind of leadership. An inclusive, consultative and collective approach. It is a leadership style that listens and facilitates, rather than commanding and controlling. That is not to say, should the need be, decisive action would not be taken.
We are living in a divided society, a dangerous divided society. We need leadership that is going to bring us together and unite. This can only be achieved through careful, thoughtful and insightful leadership. Leadership that is sensitive to divided voices.
For these reasons, Jeremy Corbyn will make an excellent Prime Minister.
The establishment perceives the election of the Labour Party as a serious threat. The wealthiest in society control much of our media, the financial sector and large corporations. They will not give up their control, their power or share their wealth without a fight. People must demand, together, that they do.
It is not like other elections, where you go and vote and express your preference. It is not like that anymore. We need to explain to everyone what is going on and how a positive vision for the future is possible. We need to fight for this.
That is why I ask all educators to get involved, that is if you want change. You need to do more than just vote. In a hostile media environment that is opposed to change we need to get out on the doorstep and talk to people, explain to them and reassure them that another world is possible.
Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have approached this general election campaign with a positive and hopeful vision for the UK. Already we are seeing people become motivated by this message. There is growing belief. But that will not be enough. We need everyone who wants change, who wants a better education system and a fairer society, to get involved.
Don’t let this election be lost by not acting. It is an opportunity of a lifetime. Let’s take it and make it work.