I’ve listened to all the “hardworking family” soundbites coming out of the Tory conference. I’ve listened to Dave Cameron talking about “the values of our country”. I’ve listened to Michael Gove praising “hardworking” teachers and condemning “the enemies of promise”.
And quite frankly I can’t take anymore.
I come from a family that, through generations, has worked hard, and long.
Many of them either died, or were forced to give up work because the job was killing them slowly, and they could no longer continue. Many of them fought in wars to defend this country.
My grandmother’s first husband was killed in 1917 fighting on the battle fields of France. Her second husband worked in the pits at a time when Health and Safety really had gone mad. It was so insane, that it’s aim was to slowly kill the employees. It succeeded.
My dad died at the age of 49, from hard work. He joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17 to fight in the Second World War. He lied about his age.
He was off the beaches of Normandy in 1944, protecting the Northern flank of the invasion fleet from attack by German E-boats. On the night of 5th/6th June he was involved in a sea battle in the channel. He sailed on Arctic Convoys. He was a hard, hard-working bloke. He was a good guy.
Many of my uncles never reached retirement age. They died, either of hard work, or industrial illnesses. They too fought in the second world war, or worked in the pits to keep the country running.
Some of my cousins died from industrial illnesses, when Health and Safety was completely insane.
I have worked all my life. I have worked in factories where oxygen was just a small part of the dust I was breathing in. I was so pleased that Health and Safety was mad, it was great to breathe in that dust.
I have paid my taxes. I have paid my National Insurance Contributions. I’ve volunteered. I have set up charities. I have been a trustee of a charity, for 15 years. And I’m still working hard.
And I haven’t even mentioned my wife’s family.
Overall I think I qualify on the “hard-working” family criteria.
In my current hard-working role, I happen to be a teacher, and have been since 1989.
I also happen to be a hard-working trade union member. I also happen to be a hard-working trade union representative. I work hard for my members.
Oops, maybe I’m not the man you thought I was. Teacher. Striking teacher. Trade Union member. Trade Union rep. Suddenly all my hard work is negated in the eyes of some.
Now I stand condemned as “an enemy of promise”. After all of the above I am excluded from the “hard-working” sub-group. And why is this?
Because I had the effrontery to strike today, in a legal trade dispute between my trade union and the Secretary of State for Education.
I am not prepared to have anyone speak on my behalf, and talk of “hard-working” families as though they have ownership of my thoughts, beliefs and values. I cannot accept that if you don’t hold the same beliefs, or ideology as someone else, you are not part of the “hard-working” families.
I am not prepared to accept condemnation of immigrants, legal or otherwise.
I am not prepared to accept condemnation of single parents, or other families who don’t happen be structured like my heterosexual marriage.
I am not prepared to accept wholesale attacks on people with disabilities.
I am not prepared to accept the stigmatizing of people on welfare as skivers and scroungers, or as the something for nothing brigade.
I am not prepared to accept press attacks on people who are unable to defend themselves.
I am not prepared to accept the condemnation of whole sections of our community, of my family, of my friends, because they happen to hold different beliefs, values and ideas than leaders of this country. My dad fought a war against that sought of political approach.
But some people can get away with condemning whole sections of our community, at the same time as appearing to speak for people they have nothing in common with. This value is called deception, and is to be condemned.
If Dave Cameron and his colleagues want to speak for hard-working families then they need to start talking about our values. Fairness, equality, decency, empathy, freedom, friendship, respect. I struggle to see these values in the leaders of this country.
“I have a simple message for the militant teaching unions: please, please, please don’t put your ideology before our children’s interests,” Gove said, to applause from party members”.
Pot, kettle, black.
“Gove had praised the current generation of teachers as being the best ever, saying: “It has been teachers who have been responsible for transforming schools … Teachers everywhere, thank you.”
Does that include all teachers, or just those who did not strike today?
“But there is one group of people who I can’t thank. They’re the people who are standing in the way of progress. They’re the people who are the enemies of promise.”
Ah, and who would they be? Those on strike today, who have made no contribution whatever to the transformation in schools?
“Gove picked up on the theme, saying that “the leaders of the militant teaching unions have gone out on strike. And the reason why they have gone out on strike, in a new example of twisted militant logic, is that they want to stop good teachers being paid more.”
No. Listen to what we are saying.
“Gove was quick to attack Labour over its union ties, saying: “What has Labour said about this strike? What words of condemnation have they uttered? Nothing, nada, zilch. Once again, faced with the exercise of trade union muscle, we’ve seen the Labour party reduced to a cowering blancmange.”
What has the Labour Party got to do with this strike? This is a dispute between you and the teaching unions.
I would like to hear what the Tory definition of a hard working family is?
Can anyone tell me? Anyone got any ideas?
- ‘Teachers on strike are the enemies of promise’: Michael Gove slams militants for putting ideology before children’s interests (dailymail.co.uk)
- ‘Teachers on strike are the enemies of promise’: Michael Gove slams militants for putting ideology before children’s interests (thisismoney.co.uk)