A thought about 1984

None of us know what George Orwell would have believed if he had lived past 47 into the 1980s or beyond. He might have got over his tendency to put women on a pedestal and then lunge at them; he might have got over his dislike of homosexuals; he might not. My generation, and later ones, might have considered him an ally, or a betrayer.

What is unlikely is that he would ever have moved from a generally Left-wing perspective towards any tolerance whatever for the Right in general or the Conservative Party in particular. He did not have it in him.

He was highly critical of the Labour party, but from within democratic socialism – if he laid information with the authorities about various Labour MPs, it is because he genuinely thought that they might be Soviet agents. We have the luxury of knowing that Tom Driberg – who did not, I think, make his list – was talking to the KGB regularly, but was also talking to MI5.

In the last few days, friends like auntysarah have voiced what I believe to be a fundamental misunderstanding of Orwell’s 1984. To paraphrase, Orwell prophetically got the number of New Labour and saw the Labour Party as the precursor of the Ingsoc of Big Brother.

Now, obviously, in his portrayal of a future British totalitarianism, Orwell drew on much that was authentically British – it needed to feel real. He drew on the Civil service, municipal jobsworths and nasty cheap cafes; he also drew on two things he knew very well, the BBC and the Labour Party, but the BBC far more. To say this is not to say that he thought the BBC would evolve into a totalitarian regime – he thought that a totalitarian British regime would need to reflect the workings of the BBC because that is what big British organizations are like. A regime that claimed to be socialist would obviously draw on the traditions of the Labour party – which is not the same as saying that he was foreshadowing Blairism and seeing it as totalitarian.

What really worried him – and what 1984 is at least as much about as socialism – is managerialism; he wrote several times, and rather rudely, about James Burnham and the sort of industrial feudalism that is creeping back into our lives.

So, no, Orwell would have hated Blairism and Brownism, but he would not have endorsed David Cameron or Nick Clegg – and his scorn would have been in good prose…

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About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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44 Responses to A thought about 1984

  1. Yes. It fascinates me how many people draw that kind of conclusion.

  2. auntysarah says:

    I don’t think he said anything prophetically about New Labour. I think he saw the apologetics for Stalinism that plagued British socialism, and its personification in the contemporary Labour party, in the 1940s, and the refusal to take civil liberties or the evils of collectivism seriously, and extrapolated from there. Indeed, it’s pretty much there in black and white in the novel – see the scene where Winston is talking to the old man in the Prole pub, where he is oblivious to the man explaining how Ingsoc came about. He specifically mentions “The Lackeys”, who betrayed the working class, and goes on, “Of course, they were talking about the Labour Party”.

    That’s why I think those who suggest the dreadful record of the Blairite Labour party as a temporary aberration which will naturally correct itself under new leadership are thinking wishfully. I think a streak of authoritarianism has always been there, and it’s a bad habit they seem to find very hard to give up.

    • rozkaveney says:

      But he went on working for Tribune, a paper not only of the Labour party but of the Labour left, almost to the end of his life. He opposed apologetics for Stalinism, but that was not, in the 40s, a majority even on the Labour Left. His friends were Bevanites.

      Of course, in a dystopian novel, he wrote in betrayal by the Labour Left, but only because it would have been too obvious to see authoritarianism as coming solely and wholly from the Right. If you read his other writings of the time, he endlessly praises Jack London’s The Iron Heel with its aristocratic fascists disappearing their enemies – now there’s a proohetic book.

      The authoritarian strain has always been there in the Labour party? Only inasmuch as it has always been a strain in British politics of every kind.

      And far more among Tories. Authoritarianism is still authoritarianism when it is privatized.

      • rozkaveney says:

        You really need to read the essays on Burnham alongside 1984. Orwell was not nearly as opposed to a culture of collectivism as you seem to suppose – indeed at times in the late 1930s and early 40s he came close to recommending an insurrectionary revolutionary socialism as a necessary part of winning the war against Fascism. What he was opposed to was the imposition of elitist rule whether by Fascists or Communists – he saw in Burnham a smug belief that democracy was an illusion which would shortly be dispensed with in favour of rule by experts.

      • auntysarah says:

        Then he’d really turn in his grave if he saw our reality – we don’t even have experts any more; we have focus groups.

      • rozkaveney says:

        Oh, and ‘the lackeys’? Lackey was a word in the 40s so associated with the stock rhetoric of the British Communist Party – see any of Orwell’s pieces on language – that this is probably to be read as the old man being an unreliable narrator. He is a Stalinist blaming the Labour party for what communists and their fellow travellers were totally complicit in.

      • auntysarah says:

        But he went on working for Tribune, a paper not only of the Labour party but of the Labour left, almost to the end of his life. He opposed apologetics for Stalinism, but that was not, in the 40s, a majority even on the Labour Left. His friends were Bevanites.

        By the same token, the Blairites, their apologetics for the NeoCons and their pursuit of power as an end in itself were almost certainly not a majority within the Labour Party of recent times, and probably not even a majority of the parliamentary party, but they did end up in a position where they had free reign, and are still in a position to greatly influence the party as it moves into opposition. I fear it will take far more than a leadership election to kill off their control-freakery and casual disregard of individual rights, privacy and due process.

        Indeed, it is my sincere hope that they campaign for a yes in the AV referendum, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do not because so many in the party’s upper echelons find the idea of sharing power to be anathema. They do have the power to utterly sabotage electoral reform in this parliament, and I half expect them to do just that.

      • rozkaveney says:

        I opposed – lots of people opposed – the Blairites from the beginning. The trouble is, that they believed the only way to win an election in C21 Britain was to gain the approval of the right-wing press. The right-wing press are very happy with the coalition – yes, there are unpleasant aspects of the modern Labour party, but just look at the Conservatives.

        You seem prepared to sacrifice almost everything else to electoral reform – and if the British public turn on you, and dish the possibility of electoral reform out of dislike of the Liberal Democrats, that will be a huge shame, but not unexpected.

      • rozkaveney says:

        Oh, and Orwell said, in 1945 ‘Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”

      • auntysarah says:

        ..and if the last government had had much of a resemblance to democratic socialism, and shown less of an affinity for implementing the tools of totalitarianism at every opportunity (and it wasn’t just in their third term either – remember RIPA, where they made it a criminal offence to refuse to take part in a sting operation by the security services against your friends, or to warn them?), then I doubt we’d be where we are today.

      • auntysarah says:

        Not just electoral reform, but the dismantling of the surveillance state as well. Electoral reform, hopefully preventing the sort of elected dictatorship that allows these excesses to happen in the first place, is a crucial part of installing checks and balances, which I think are badly needed, in our political system. This is the first serious opportunity for it in any of our lifetimes, and may well be the last. That’s why many Liberal Democrats are willing to bet the farm on it. The price of failure is simply to go back to what we had before; Labour followed by Tory followed by Labour followed by Tory, each trying to outdo each other in increasingly vacuous displays of capitulation to the gutter press.

        It would have been easy to retain the purity of opposition, to not have to make compromises, and to stay in our comfort zone, but it would have thrown away the one chance any of us may ever see to break the cycle.

      • rozkaveney says:

        But if in the process you allow the destruction of the National Health Service and mass education and a decent welfare system and affordable public housing – you will create an alienated desperate working class that will not be your friends or mine. You will immiserate large parts of the middle class. You will create the conditions for something far nastier than you can imagine.

        Given how much of the Tory party you have given the levers of power to reject climate change, you are betting not only the farm, but the planet.

      • auntysarah says:

        I don’t like what’s happening to education, and I have issues with some of the health reforms, although frankly too many PCTs are bloody menaces that need to go. Having said that, I don’t think any of what’s happening represents “the destruction of the NHS”, or “the destruction of mass education”, and if anything is going to serve to convince the bulk of the Lib Dem party that Labour objections to coalition government policies are not worth listening to, it’s alarmist rhetoric like that.

      • andrewhickey says:

        Agreed with this, though I’m actually (even though a Lib Dem) in agreement with the bulk of Roz’s article. Orwell was a Socialist, a Democrat and a Liberal in approximately that order, and while he was obviously against the Stalinist Left (to the extent that I think he would have chosen the Tories over the Communists) and authoritarianism in general, and would have had no truck *AT ALL* with New Labour, I don’t think he’d have ever felt at home in the Lib Dems either.
        I could see him joining the Greens actually, or doing a complete volte-face a la Hitchens, but not supporting the coalition.

      • rozkaveney says:

        Whenever a Tory talks about reforming the Health Service, or any other creation of the 1945 Labour Government, my teeth go on edge. So many of the crap reorganizations of say the NHS come from the Tories, and so much damage has been done; a case can be made that one of the great crimes of the Labour party has been being overly fair-minded about seeing how Tory policies shake down.

        (I’ve was told, back in the 70s, that the incoming Wilson government were presented by their civil servants with a list of measures to unpick the Joseph changes which had just gone through and decided to be awfully high-minded about respecting changes for which they felt the Heath government had had a mandate. Their civil servants warned them that this was a very very Bad Idea).

        I don’t think Andrew Lansley necessarily means to destroy the NHS or that Gove means to wreck education, any more than the Blairites did. I just think that half-thought out policies and vague prejudices are a good recipe for disaster and that more should have been done in cabinet to stop them presenting back of the envelope slogans as a comprehensive policy for change.

        Sometimes I am an alarmist, and sometimes I am merely concerned.

        After all, we are all alarmist about something. You clearly at some level believe that various measures – id cards and so on – were symptomatic of Teh Evol lurking in the heart of the Labour Party, whereas some of us opposed them as ill-judged and intemperate measures that came out of a mixture of wanting to out-flank the Tories.

        We are all allowed to be a bit apocalyptic about something.

      • andrewhickey says:

        Oh, I absolutely agree here, and we *are* all allowed to be apocalyptic. I’m fairly alarmed at these things myself, and I don’t trust the Tories as far as I can throw them.

        But I was specifically agreeing with the idea that statements such as that *will not convince Lib Dems to listen to Labour*. Especially since I simply don’t believe that Labour would have done things significantly differently (I think other than the Iraq war, the single biggest crime Labour committed when in power was the way it gutted NHS services like Mental Health which disproportionately help those who are marginalised).

        As far as I’m concerned, my view of the last election is that I was given a choice between three centre-right parties economically. I believe that the Lib Dems were the least-worst party on that score, but no matter who won this election the results were going to be horrific. By being in the coalition, while that makes us partly responsible for some of that horror (which *should* be criticised, though those within Labour who criticise it should also be trying to change their own party – which I know you are, but many aren’t), it also allows us to do some good in the realms of civil liberties.

        So I don’t see it as selling anyone or anything out – it’s a question of getting some good out of what would be a bad situation no matter what. We can *either* have significantly worsened NHS and schools, or significantly worsened NHS and schools *and* electoral reform, an end to child detention, an end to deportation of LGBTQ people to countries where they’ll be persecuted, removal of the laws regarding ‘extreme pornography’, prison reform, return of the right to silence…

        And I don’t believe that the Labour Party are evil. I know far too many decent Labour activists for that. I *do*, however, believe that the *Parliamentary* Labour Party have little or nothing to distinguish themselves from the Conservatives economically, and that they actually believe in the various intolerant and illiberal things they did when they were in power.

      • nmg says:

        I don’t think Andrew Lansley necessarily means to destroy the NHS or that Gove means to wreck education

        If by “destroy” and “wreck” you mean “render into a form that bears little resemblance to the status quo”, I’d say that’s exactly what Lansley and Gove are intending to do.

        The Tory protestations that they are committed to the NHS seem little more than lip service.

      • rozkaveney says:

        By ‘destroy’ and ‘wreck’, I mean ‘render utterly unfit for what is generally understood to be both their original purpose and the consensus view of their role in national life’. Just to be precise.

      • nmg says:

        Right – I think that we agree there. Where we disagree is whether Gove and Lansley are inept or competent-but-evil.

        I think that I prefer to think of our masters in Westminster as being able men with whom I fundamentally disagree, both intellectually and viscerally, than as fools.

      • steerpikelet says:

        They are moderately competent and – evil is such a childish word – ugly neoliberal ideologues with a very strond, deliberate privatisation agenda. They believe that selling off the NHS and our education piece by piece to the highest bidder is the best thing to do. And if we don’t take them to task, that’s what will happen.

      • rozkaveney says:

        And Gove in particular is a highly intelligent man capable in spite of his intelligence of major acts of folly like not consulting either his civil servants or a reasonable proportion of those affected by his policy before announcing swinging changes. Intelligence and ability are attributes which are not, alas, incompatible with gross folly.

      • steerpikelet says:

        I don’t think it’s alarmist to suggest that the Conservatives have a sincere and definite agenda to privatise as much of the NHS and education as possible and sell off the welfare state. That is not an overinflated, hysterical estimation of the situation: the destruction of the Attlee settlement is, objectively, what is happening here. And the Lib Dems look set to stand by and watch it happen.

      • andrewhickey says:

        Certainly with the NHS that’s what’s *already been happening* for at least the last 16 years – PFI has meant that trusts have been run primarily in order to pay for the profits of businesses like Balfour Beatty, and only secondarily to treat patients, for a long, long time. Tory policy in these areas is not actually substantially different from what Labour did during the whole thirteen years it was in power…

      • auntysarah says:

        *sigh*. As a Cambridgeshire resident, the noise being raised over current proposals seems somewhat strange compared to the deafening silence that occurred when the Labour government decided to hand over one of our main NHS district hospitals (Hinchinbrooke) to the lowest bidder from the private sector, and span it as the new dawn of NHS and private sector co-working.

        If the replacement of PCTs with GP Clusters represents a “definitive agenda to privatise”, then what the hell does Hinchinbrooke represent? They gave the hospital to the private sector FFS, strongly suggesting more were to follow, and now we’re down to the last four bidders, three of whom are private health multinationals.

        I’m sure you can appreciate that a cynic could very well form the impression, based on the complete lack of interest and noise over Labour’s Hinchinbrooke experiment, that current howls of protest are a tiny bit hypocritical and look quite a lot like partisan sour grapes.

        I would say I’m not bitter about this, but I kind of am.

      • rozkaveney says:

        By the same token, given your principled objection to something that was done locally, of which I was unaware, but which I would have opposed had I known about it. And which was all too typical of New Labour experiments with the market – I objected to PFI as well…

        Why do you regard it as tolerable that the Coalition are doing something non-experimentally, on a massive scale, to the whole NHS?

      • auntysarah says:

        This is one of those, “have you stopped beating your wife?” questions, isn’t it?

        I’m skeptical about GP clusters, but on the other hand PCTs clearly were not working either. I don’t think it represents anything like the doomsday scenario that some Labour actinides are screaming about, and the insistence that it does frankly leaves me cold.

        As a member of the Cambs local authority PCT liaison team, I know we are going to run the two structures in parallel for a bit, and the reality will likely be that it won’t look much different from the outside. A GP cluster will look a lot like a PCT for most intents and purposes, although there are advantages in terms of patient choice and accountability. The stuff that is proposed to strengthen LINks (which were themselves formed from the PPI forums that Labour gutted and stripped of their teeth), giving oversight directly back to local people is, I think, excellent and will male GP clusters accountable in a way that PCTs never were.

        And this is really my problem with the doom mongers. On the ground I see people doing positive stuff to prepare to this which should contribute to improving health services. It is in complete contrast to, and completely disconnected from, the yelling that’s going on simultaneously.

        And at least the “private contractors” involved this time are actual GPs, rather than random multinational services companies, which seemed to represent Labour’s idea of how to integrate the NHS and private management.

      • rozkaveney says:

        If it came across as ‘have you stopped beating your wife?’, it was not intended to, save inasmuch as your party doesn’t seem to have had any input to a policy that was not in anyone’s manifesto.

        You’ve been closer to this level of organization of the NHS than most of us, so I’ll ask you a different question. In practice, do you think most GPs will be keen to take on extra work, or hire random multinational services companies to do it for them?

        And we are now, btw, discussing an aspect of New Labour, and the Tories, which is a long way from Stalinist collectivism and absolutely the sort of managerialism Orwell was attacking in his essays on Burnham.

        (I am trying to keep at least some of this discussion on topic…)

      • auntysarah says:

        Well, firstly the common perception that this will be lots of small disparate groups of GPs all doing their thing is not what’s happening in reality, nor I think can it be. Its GP *clusters*, and those clusters would seem to be quite large – district or county level even, so the same sort of size as a PCT (perhaps a bit smaller in a largish shire county like ours). By ans large, the people setting them up seem to be pretty much the same people who are currently involved im running PCTs, and who will be looking for new jobs come 2013. An individual GP practice would likely have little to do with commissioning decisions day to day – the cluster back office will handle that, but unlike the current system where a PCT is not answerable to GPs for the commissioning decisions it makes, a cluster will be.

        Furthermore, clusters will need to be licenced by the Care Quality Commission, and will need to operate according to commissioning policies set by local authorities, rather than SHAs as present. in this way, they will be directly accountable to the electorate in a way that PCTs are not. The boundaries in which clusters are allowed to operate should actually be quite rigid, and that’s before the role of LINk/HealthWatch is considered.

        Over time, I expect some of them will contract out various services to the larger private sector, but PCTs and acute care trusts are already doing this anyway.

      • Please see my post at the bottom. It is education where the ConDems have shown their most centralising, authoritarian and anti-democratic tendencies, to the extent that some commentators have already called Gove’s “reforms” Stalinist.

        Current education policy is so diametrically opposite to the LDs (stated) policies, that it is easy to see why people like teachers, who normally vote LD in large numbers are going to defect to Labour and stay there.

      • auntysarah says:

        Re global warming, this is one area where I actually find common cause with the free market types. It doesn’t matter how good a citizen we are globally – any slack we make in the system, and more, will be taken up by China and India without so much as a second thought. The answer has to involve making low carbon or carbon neutral alternatives more economically attractive than burning fossil fuels, otherwise people will just keep doing it.

      • marypcb says:

        China plans to keep on polluting until it can make more money by owning the green technology market; with their penchant for azquiring IP by any means that works they have a chance of doing it. But given that China has only just passed the US as a net producer of CO2 you can hardly say it doesn’t matter what the west does. you also need ot be careful subsidising the system otherwise you end up with hte stagnation we saw in photovoltaics after the US tax subsidies after the oil crisis because there was no point making them cheaper than the subsidy covered…

        and not to rant too much avout something that’s not the original topic, it turns out a significant proportion of climate changing particles are short lived products of burning wood for fuel in developing countries. replace that with solar ovens and not only do you give us a longer period to work on solutions for the other pollutants, but you save millions of owmen from spending half their life gathering wood and tending cooking fires.

      • auntysarah says:

        By “we”, I don’t mean the west, I mean the UK. It absolutely matters what the west does, but while the UK is very much in a position to develop alternate energy production technologies, and do very nicely out of them thank you very much, we’re in no position to coerce the rest of the western world into changing its ways. The US, in particular, would just ignore us.

      • steerpikelet says:

        I don’t believe the free market will ever offer a solution to global warming. For one thing, it means that having accepted the narrative of stopping climate change, for many neoliberal/free market types protecting the planet is only ever always the same thing as protecting private property and protecting profit.

        Market controls are needed as an absolut baseline for any response to global warming.

      • auntysarah says:

        I think you’re wrong for two reasons. Firstly, there is money to be made in carbon neutral alternatives to fossil fuels, and the UK is a world leader in the R&D necessary to make this happen. Secondly, any policy that relies on every major polluter in the world signing up to commitments which they would generally see as against their own self interest is doomed to failure. The energy consumption of the human race will keep growing dramatically, and any attempts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions which don’t account for that stand about as much chance of being successful as Cnut’s day at the seaside.

        What *will* work is selling carbon neutral energy at a lower price than fossil fuels. That’s achievable and does not rely on the US, China, India, etc. all signing up to do something that they don’t want to do. Mandating that as a starting position for tackling this problem is reckless folly, IMO.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ooops, sorry, ignore post above, posted in error.

        I totally agree, in fact it is the freemarket which is the problem when it comes to global warming. The only way global warming will be stopped is by governmental action reining in private companies. Otherwise any company which tries to be ‘green’ will simply find itself undercut by another company prepared to produce cheaper products or services in a less green way.

      • steerpikelet says:

        ‘That’s why many Liberal Democrats are willing to bet the farm on it.’

        Not bet the farm, sell the farm. And it’s not even their fucking farm.

  3. calimac says:

    Orwell did not think that being a man of the Left, as he repeatedly described himself, disqualified him from criticizing the Left when it was wrong – rather he thought it incumbent on him, while being at pains to avoid doing so in contexts where his words might be seen as sponsored by the Right.

    Some people – on both sides – don’t get this. They think that anyone who criticizes anything designated as being Left must be of the Right.

    Orwell’s intellect towers above theirs like any mountain you could name.

    • auntysarah says:

      Some people – on both sides – don’t get this. They think that anyone who criticizes anything designated as being Left must be of the Right.

      That’s a position I find myself very much in sympathy with. I don’t expect much of the Tories – I don’t generally agree with where they are coming from, nor what they want. With Labour, however, I had hoped for so much more. I wanted infrastructure, equality, liberty that was an example to the world, and the grubbiness of what we got instead hurt that much more.

  4. marypcb says:

    I’ve always assumed 1984 is far more about 1948 (or maybe 1949) than 1984

  5. cmcmck says:

    I have to admit that my own (historian’s) view of where Orwell found his Ingsoc based state is somewhat at odds with the usually accepted view that it lies in the Soviet Union with a side order of Nazi Germany (accent on the S in NSDAP- Darre and Rosenberg rather than Hitler) thrown in for good measure (although it’s plainly no accident that Big Brother looks a whole heap like Djugashvili).

    I’ve always considered that there’s a hell of a lot of the corporate state (your managerialism) a la Mussolini or the Dolfuss/Schussnig regime in pre Anschluss Austria than anything else in ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ (in a state where nothing much more than London exists- which is much what one comes to expect from Orwell).

  6. paratti says:

    Orwell – the public schoolboy and former colonial policeman – he knew the enemy. He’d seen it. He’d been it. And he’d learnt from that experience. Hence his writing, both novels and for Tribune. Yes, he wrote as part of the broad Left about the worst excesses of a portion of the Left. He wrote what he knew. But he did it as part of the internal dialogue of the Left, not as a Liberal, but as part of that Left which would create the NHS, would build and repair the bombdamaged schools as part of the expansion of access to both health and education for all in the face of opposition from those the Liberals have jumped into bed with.

    And I think were he around now, seeing what is being done to health, education, selling out the BBC to the interests of Rupert Murdoch would make him steamingly furious, especially at the denial among way too many Liberals of the costs to real people of Clegg and co getting the keys to the ministerial Jags.

    I’d have more respect for them if they did own the costs of their choices but at the momemt, it seems more like too many of them are clinging to the moral highground of never having been in power for the best part of a centuary while claiming that anything they sign up to – like derailing the economic recovery as part of an idealogical dialing back the State – is justifed as collateral damage of getting a vote on electoral reform they’ll probably lose as people don’t vote for a group which sold itself as Progressive and Innocent and which throws the Progressive Agenda and most of the policies it campaigned on out with the bathwater when given the keys to Office and Denies it.

  7. I would have to pick up the ConDems for their education p[olicies particularly, as an example of how they speak with two voices on statism and centralisation. What Gove is proposing is actually the greatest centralisation of the education system ever, even more so than the 1988 Education Reform act in which Thatcher introduced a National Curriculum so prescriptive that it was more wordy than the national curriculum of the Soviet Union. Gove’s intention is to do away with all those involved in education except whitehall and schools. There are to be no intermediate structures and democratic control of schools by parents would be removed.

    Indeed the parents of children at my old secondary school in East Anglia voted overwhelmingly against Gove’s “reforms” because school management would be removed to a company based in Chelmsford which is 50 miles away, and their majority on the board of governors would be removed.

    In terms of education the two most centralising pieces of legislation ever in the UK have been introduced by the Tories. The only problem has been that Labour was too afraid of the press to do away with many of them, although had tentatively begun steps to reduce the prescriptiveness of the National Curriculum in primary schools with the Rose reforms. Reforms which were immediately cancelled by the ConDems the moment they entered office. Indeed the ConDems have been quick to do away with anything they think might represent a challenge to their centralised authority in education. A well-used and popular website for helping with teaching citizenship has just been shut down, with no prior warning, in what is in effect an act of book-burning on the part of the ConDems. The closure of the Quango Becta, which promotes ICT in education, is another example or this centralisation. the excuse this time being to save £60m. Yet Becta pays for itself many times over in terms of the exports of educational hardware and software produced by UK companies, generated, (the reason its name was changed from NCET, to add the “British” for web searches). The supposedly pro-business ConDems are now putting at risk a whole industry which has built up over the last 15 years and which generates considerable exports for the UK, simply because they wanted to ensure that there is no-one left to contradict the policies of Gove.

    As such the ConDems have shown their true colours when it comes to freedom and democracy. Centralisation, disempowerment and removal of opposition. They know their policies are going to result in the impoverishment of education, in the poorest doing worse and worse and they know their policies are going to be more of the same bureaucratic authoritarianism which Thatcher forced onto the education system. They remember how opposition to her “reforms” forced the government to think again, especially on the National Curriculum, and are acting to make sure this potential for opposition is removed.

    This is the REAL ConDem approach to freedom, civil rights and power. Centralisation to the extent of Stalinism, indeed the word “Stalinism” has been used by more than one commentator to describe Gove’s Education policy already.

    And where are the LibDems in all of this? Are they moderating any of this? No, they are nowhere to be seen. A crumb, in the form of the Pupil Premium has been given to them in return for what will effectively be carte blanche fot Gove to do whatever he wants. The benefits of any pupil premium will be more than outweighed by the increased inequalities imposed on the system in other ways.

    The LibDems have been VERY silent on education policy of late, it is easy to see why. Education policy gives lie to the claims that the ConDems represent any kind of liberal, people-empowering force.

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