I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who trusts this government to have their best interests at heart.
I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who trusts this government’s friends and associates to have their best interests at heart.
I’ll tell you why, shall I?
Until recently I was a certified Nice Person™. I once turned the music down because my cat was trying to sleep. I made a crying student smile by showing her pix of Emergency Kittens. I move snails out of the way on dark, wet nights and I try my darnedest to be there for my friends when they need me (sometimes fail at this, I admit) and I tell my daughter every single day how loved she is, and how utterly gorgeous (because I know what it’s like to grow up thinking you’re sort of slightly rubbish).
This week, however, courtesy of our lovely government, I discovered that I’m hostile and intimidating. Courtesy of the government’s lovely friends and associates at the Inspiration Trust I discovered that my behaviour is abusive. Along with the participants in two other hard-fought academy campaigns, my fellow Hewett chums and I were allowed to be openly maligned on a government website and in a press release the same day.
Don’t the government have rules they have to follow? You’d think so, wouldn’t you. You’d think it wasn’t acceptable for the Department for Education to quote mistruths from Dame Rachel de Souza with absolutely no right of reply from the ‘small but vocal’ (2000 people petitioned against them) ‘politically-motivated’ (as if the mass privatisation of education isn’t politically motivated) campaigners who made life so incwedibly difficult for poor Dame Rachel and her Tory chums. Because, after all, how dare we stand against them? How dare we Hewett oiks defend our own school, paid for by local taxpayers, from the filthy marauding hands of private business? How dare we?
Well, the thing is, you see – we did dare. We did dare to say, actually, hang on a flipping minute, we don’t want our entire school system to be privatised, thanks very much, and this feels like a fight worth having – not just for the sake of Hewett, but for education in general. After all, as a wise man once said: ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.’ So we did dare, and we continue to dare (because as long as they’re educating my daughter, I will continue to hold that bunch of crooks to account whenever I see fit, thanks very much).
So, yes, we defended our school. And, yes, we felt hostile towards the people stealing it, as people generally tend to do when their own property is being prised from their gradually loosening fingers by people who already own giant swathes of the Norfolk landscape, and – here’s the really amazing thing – they didn’t pay a penny to acquire it! In fact, yup, they were paid to steal our land. They were paid by you and by me. They continue to be paid by you and me, and they’re pissing the funds away on Vera Wang tea sets and Hugo Boss chairs and jollies to New York for meetings with education ‘experts’ who advocate things like this (skip ahead to 5.55 if you want the fright of your life, whilst noting that comments are disabled for this video, because that’s how Inspiration Trust tends to roll):
I’m abusive, according to the folks who run Hewett Academy’s social media, because I dared to voice dissenting views on a public internet page (’tis how the internet works, you rusty old bunch of farts – and if you’re going to call me abusive you’re going to provoke rude language; ’tis how human nature works):
You can read my response to this tweet (which, taken out of context, is misleading – natch) on our Facebook page, now called the Hewett Parents’ Forum to reflect the fact that, you know, the vast majority of us hostile and intimidating folks are just parents. Parents of the very kids the government is claiming to protect by instating their chums and buddies in our state-owned, council-run, accountable schools.
So let me tell you what I’ve learnt in recent times: the government (and their chums) do not give sweet FA about your kids, or about you. If they gave sweet FA about you or your kids they would actually listen to your community voice. They would meet with you and your kids in a fair, friendly forum to discuss the needs and wishes of you and your kids. Rachel de Souza has never never ever ever visited Hewett parents or pupils. NEVER. Theodore Agnew, the chair of Inspiration Trust, has never never ever ever ever visited Hewett parents or pupils. Rachel de Souza told Hewett teachers she’d been ‘after us’ for ages: we’re the ‘jewel in the Inspiration Trust crown’, with our glorious 54 acres of land, and it’s just the perfect size for embryonic Charles Darwin Primary, the latest feather in the IT cap, although they cannot, of course, possibly comment on this.
Please note the failure to reply to my second tweet… So often were we met (on twitter) by the sudden sound of silence from IT in the aftermath of any awkward (i.e. truthful) tweet, that a running gag sprang up at their expense:
This is their tactic: happy to poke their heads above the parapet for cheap ‘victories’ (minuscule inaccuracies in a campaign comment), sarcastic remarks, or government-sanctioned slagging-off; heads buried down in their murky foxholes whenever we tiptoe close to the truth in an ‘uncontrolled’ forum, i.e. social media. De Souza wouldn’t come near me on our local news show, Look East, in spite of the fact I was there in the building, ready and waiting to speak to her on the hook-up from London. And why? Because, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, she can’t handle the truth.
An unspun truth is a frightening thing for these people who pick riches from the public purse. It’s important to them that the public look elsewhere while their pockets are in the process of being picked.
And, hence, you’ll be told in the coming weeks and months that perfectly good and decent schools are failing or coasting (coasting sounds nice, though? Don’t you think? A happy, peaceful place to be, as opposed to an Ofsted-haunted gibbering wreck) and you’ll be told that Downhills Primary was physically attacked (when, in fact, the only thing the lovely and tireless Downhills campaigners ever did of a physical nature was stick a cheeky plaque on the side of the school) and you’ll be told that Hewett campaigners were hostile and intimidating and abusive. You’ll be told that the DfE ‘saw sense’ by gifting our school to the Inspiration Trust, and that our buildings were in disrepair (yes, they were, because the government refused us money to repair them), and that pupil numbers were falling (thanks in part to the government-funded opening of two new schools by… can you possibly guess? By the Inspiration Trust).
You are a free human being. You live (for the time being) (sort of) in a democracy. You can make up your own mind about this. You can swallow the government line if you want to. You can say, well that Lynsey woman – maybe she is a bit bolshi and, god, she’s always swearing and writing rude things about willies, and those nice folks at the Inspiration Trust are (mostly) Catholic, aren’t they? Good Christian people. And surely, surely, the government wouldn’t lie to us?
Or you could read this, from local councillor Emma Corlett, where actual unspun truths are told. And you could read this from the Guardian, reporting on the Shadow Education Secretary’s recent findings. And you could read this extraordinary blog with lots of icky statistics in it – the sort of unspun ickiness the Inspiration Trust is so afraid of.
And you could ask yourself why they are hiding? Why did Rachel de Souza refuse to debate me? Why did she never set foot in our public ‘consultation’ meetings? Why do they go all coy when they’re asked something difficult?
The truth is powerful. And that’s why they’re scared of it.