At Prime Minister’s Questions on 20 April, Jeremy Corbyn asked as his final question:
We appear to be heading into some kind of fantasy land. The Institute for Fiscal Studies states that school spending “is expected to fall by at least 7% in real terms” in the next four years—the biggest cut since the 1970s. So why on earth is the Prime Minister proposing to spend £1.3 billion on a top-down reorganisation that was not in his manifesto? Teachers do not want it, parents do not want it, governors do not want it, headteachers do not want it and even his own MPs and councillors do not want it. Can he not just think again and support schools and education, rather than forcing this on them?
The question relates to fierce opposition to David Cameron’s plan to force every school in England to become an academy.
Instead of properly addressing the concerns of parents, teachers and governors, the Prime Minister decided to spend most his answer making a drawn-out, cringe-worthy joke about Labour:
Let me answer the question about spending very directly. We protected spending per pupil all the way through the last Parliament and all the way through this Parliament. We are spending £7 billion on more school places to make up for the woeful lack of action under the last Labour Government. That is the truth on spending.
The right hon. Gentleman talks about fantasy land, and I think the Labour party this week entered fantasy land. The Labour party is abandoning Trident in Scotland and it has selected in London someone who sits on platforms with extremists. When I read that the Labour party was going to ban ‘McDonnell’ from its party conference, I thought that was the first sensible decision it had made, but it turns out that it was not the job destroyer that the Labour party wanted to keep away from its conference; it was one of Britain’s biggest employers. No wonder Labour MPs are in despair. Frankly, I’m loving’ it.
While Cameron may claim that education budgets are protected, the reality is very different:
- Teachers are being made redundant.
- Class sizes are rising.
- Subjects are being dropped.
- We are losing mental health support.
After pretending his government is not making cuts, Cameron insulted the genuine concerns from parents, teachers and MPs by wasting time with a bad joke. His jibe was in relation to Labour’s decision to ban McDonald’s from its party conference. The ‘Jeremy Corbyn for PM’ page on Facebook has set the record straight as to why they banned the multinational corporation:
The issue about McDonalds isn’t some spat over “posh food” vs “junk food”, or just about obesity – it’s the fact that for years, that company has been at the forefront of anti-union practices which affect the daily lives of thousands of their workers across the globe. Low pay, union busting, environmental degradation and tax avoidance aren’t middle class, academic concerns, but issues that go to the very heart of our society and how we organise it.
Rejecting the McDonald’s sponsorship was a matter of principle. You can watch this exchange between Cameron and Corbyn here:
Concerns over the forced academisation of all state schools in England are well-grounded. When a school is turned into an academy the deeds are handed to unaccountable pseudo-charities for 150 years for peppercorn rent. Academisation also opens schools up to sneaky profiteering on the back of the taxpayer.
However, for the Prime Minister, making a pre-written terrible joke about Labour is more important than legitimate concerns about our children’s education.
-If you haven’t done it yet, please SIGN the petition calling for a referendum on academisation.
-Check out the Anti-academies Alliance to join the fight.