About dannymurphyvso

Scottish Secondary School Headteacher who went to Cambodia to work in education as a volunteer, under the auspices of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO www.vso.org.uk) and is now back in UK

Another letter to Jeremy ….

Dear Jeremy

Subsequent to my previous letters to you on the subject, I am writing to say I have been pleasantly surprised by how much things have moved on.

Although, as I thought might happen, we did not manage to win against one of the weakest and most inept Tory governments in recent years under Mrs May’s excruciating leadership, we had a strong manifesto and your passion and ideals undoubtedly played a role in increasing the vote, particularly among the young – Glastonbury has given an additional edge to that!!   However for all the feelgood of increasing the vote beyond expectation, we did not win.

I still, therefore, retain my reservations about your capacity to lead the party to electoral success. You will have to do more to command the middle ground where UK elections are always won and that means finding space for some of the old ‘Blairite’ group within the party.   It is also important that you command the support of all your MPs and to do that you need to reach out and listen to those in other parts of the party who can take the Labour message into constituencies and groups of voters who at present will not listen to you.  You also need to give some of these voices more airtime to represent the variety of viewpoints across the party as a whole.

If you can bring yourself to lead a party of all the talents, and to bring out their different strengths, to see yourself as the conductor rather than the soloist, then I think there is a better prospect of electoral success, a success that is surely needed now more than ever.

Yours

Danny Murphy

Labour’s 2017 Manifesto – progressive, sensible, positive

Have you had a look at  the detail of Labour’s manifesto (click here ) for the 2017 General Election. It’s extremely good. Who knew?

 

At 122 pages it’s a long read.. maybe that’s why there’s been less coverage of the overall manifesto than there should have been.  Here’s my precis of some of the key points:

  • A UK wide constitutional convention, to engage the UK in wide consultation about improving the way our democracy works.
  • A progressive energy and environmental strategy, targetting 60% energy from renewables by 2030, investment in renewable infrastructure, no fracking, banning neonicotinoid insecticides which threaten the bee population, reductions in one-use plastic waste, clean air strategy … many other positive policies.
  • Credible economic investment and taxation polices underpinned by a Fiscal Credibility Rule, policed by the independent scrutiny of the Office for Budget Responsibility
  • A £20bn Scottish Investment Bank to invest in infrastructural improvements, part of a similar UK wide investment policy, linked to a restructuring of our financial services based around the Nordic model.
  • Respect for socially responsible business and graduated taxation of business, reflecting the needs of small business to reinvest.
  • Moderate tax increases for those able to pay to ensure books are balanced and in equality does not rise to levels which threaten social cohesion.
  • Changed priorities within the Brexit negotiations to ensure that UK remains in the customs union, has access to the single market, maintains important EU employment and environmental protections and maintains international academic co-operation through University and HE collaborative research and teaching
  • Investment in cultural capital (a major earner for the UK) in media, arts and creative industries.
  • Commitment to working in partnership internationally, on issues of defence, security and positive international relationships – with a continuing commitment to investment in international development to improve the lives of the poorest and work towards achieving the UN’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals’.
  • All of this alongside all the usual Labour commitments, as you would expect, to improved health care, educational investment, dignity in old age, equalities and so on …..

It’s a surprisingly good package, well presented within an overall umbrella of Labour values – to build a strong sustainable society, based on democratic values of equality (not absolute equality no person to fall below a threshold level), individual freedom and agency, and social and environmental sustainability. It is the most socially progressive of any of the parties (save the Greens) and contains significantly larger environmental commitments than previous Labour manifestos, reflecting a recognition that long-term economic and social justice demands a sustainable approach.

Have a read (here) ! Go on! It’s not what you might expect, given what the media have been saying so far. You might actually like it!

 

Another letter to Jeremy

Dear Jeremy,

I am writing to you again response to your tweet ‘The real fight starts now’ to highlight again my concern at the failure of your leadership. The best thing you can do just now for the people of Britain is to resign as there is absolutely no chance of Labour doing anything under your leadership as you will never be able to command the support of the middle ground in the UK, necessary to win a UK election and gain power to do anything.

Please resign and allow someone to lead the party who has a realistic prospect of achieving at least some of our shared agenda rather than a leader (ie yourself) who has some fine ideas which are unattainable and none of which will never happen except in your imagined Britain, a place different to the one which exists now and with a different set of voters to those who exist now.

I really regret having to be so strong and direct, but your personal vanity should not be allowed to spell further ruin for a party that used to want power in order to do worthwhile things but which under your leadership looks more and more like a party which is happier not being in power so that it never has to take responsibility for making the hard decisions anyone in government has to make.

I am so sad for the mess you are making of the party..  even if your ideas were capable of commanding majority support (which they are not), your poor communication skills, lack of organisational management experience and political naivety in relation to everything except the internal manoeuvres of the party at Westminster and inside the London bubble would be enough to make you incompetent as a political leader. It is  your job to bring the party together and to do so in a credible manner which attracts more people fro the centre ground to support it.  You are dividing the party while attracting no-one from the centre.

Go now and go quickly before you destroy this great party which you and I both love and which has delivered so much for people across Britain over the past hundred years.

Daniel Murphy

(member for more than 40 years)

The Referendum result and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

My letter to Jeremy Corbyn today.

Jeremy

Thank your for this letter expressing your intention to continue as leader of the once great Labour Party.
I have been a party member in Scotland, and loyal supporter through thick and thin, radical and centrist leadership, since the mid-1970s.  I believe it was a big mistake for the party not to focus in the General Election last year on the constitution of the UK and in particular its unrepresentative voting system and broken constitution.  The Scottish referendum, and now this one, demonstrate that the relationship between citizen and elected politicians has been weakened in recent years, and that many of those who supported Labour in the past feel adrift in a new globalised neo-liberal economy and alienated from a political class that cannot project a vision worth collective struggle and sacrifice.
In not tackling the weakness of the constitutional arrangements which give voice to the aspirations and hopes of the people as a whole, the biggest issue facing the UK, the party let down all progressive=thinking people and got the result it deserved – a divided Tory Government elected by a minority of the British people. This divided, weak government has now done its best to divide the Union and to divide Europe. The referendum result will sow seeds of dissension and international hostility, and fan the flames of competitive nationalism, in the longer term, with consequences which it will be hard for progressive-minded people across Europe to resist. It is a result for the narrow-minded, the racist, the xenophobes and the self-interested across Europe.
Your failure to articulate clearly the importance of European peace and collaboration among nations left a large hole in the centre in the Labour campaign. Your weak and effete leadership is one of the reasons that the vote has been lost – you have failed to connect with the post-industrial working class in places like Sunderland, Sheffield and the Welsh Valleys.
I am seriously considering giving up on the Labour movement which gets weaker and more divided under your leadership. If I leave I will be joining the Green Party. My decision will be made as events unfold over the next few months.
I believe you need to hear what the parliamentary party are saying to you and to move aside.
The longer you are our leader, the worse the situation will be for both Labour and the UK as a whole. If Nicola S gets her wish for another referendum, it is now quite likely that I will vote ‘Yes’..
Yours sincerely

Daniel Murphy


Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2016 16:33:46 +0000
To: lornshillht@hotmail.com
From: theteam@labour.org.uk
Subject: Yesterday’s European referendum

Dear Daniel,
After yesterday’s European referendum, politicians of all parties must listen to and respect the vote. Millions of voters have rejected a political establishment that has left them behind. Communities that have been hardest hit by government cuts and economic failure have voted against the status quo.The first task is to come together and heal the divisions. Our country is divided and things need to change. Politicians on all sides must respect the decision of the British people.

Ours is the only party that can meet the challenge we now face. Labour is best placed to re-unite the country. We can do so because we didn’t engage in project fear, and because we share people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo. That was why we put a case for both remain and reform.

I will be making clear to both Remain and Leave voters that Labour will fight for the exit negotiations to be accountable to an open, transparent parliamentary process. And we’ll do everything to secure the best deal for the people of Britain at every stage.

We cannot leave it to the Conservative Party – who have shown time and time again that they can’t be trusted to stand up for working people.

The Prime Minister has resigned and the Tories are deeply divided at a time when the country needs to come together and we need stability to head off economic crisis.

I want to thank all our campaigners, from Alan Johnson – who chaired Labour’s campaign – to our whole Shadow Cabinet, and to members in constituencies across the whole country, for their tireless campaigning and commitment to social justice.

Labour was created to serve people in their communities and workplaces. We need to put that historic purpose into action now and campaign to protect and represent the people we serve.

Yours sincerely

Jeremy Corbyn

Leader of the Labour Party

Colours of the Alphabet – you must see this film @alphabetfilm

On Wednesday evening, I went through to Glasgow to watch this film. It was so wonderful, in so many ways, I just have to blog about it.

It was beautiful – beautifully shot, beautiful children, beautiful colours, beautiful subject.

It was moving – about families, about growing up, about education, about how people learn who they are and what their lives are for.

It was funny – watching little children at play, at work, just being their wonderful selves.

It was thoughtful and thought provoking – there are messages, overt and covert, in the film – about language, about poverty, about ambition, about how different life is or could be without today’s technology, consumerism and media influences.

It was great entertainment – so much to enjoy and so much to think about.

Watch the trailer here:

It was also educational – what is, or should be, the proper relationship between ‘home language’ and the language of education and to what extent should all languages, however small, be protected/funded/written. What are the barriers to learning associated with language (took me back in my thoughts, as so often in my teaching career, to the work of Bernstein, Class Codes and Control ( see here ) and more recently Michael Young’s restatement of the importance of ‘powerful knowledge’ (see below) and the work of Elizabeth Rata http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01411926.2011.615388:

“Limiting the curriculum to experiential knowledge limits access to a powerful class resource; that of conceptual knowledge required for critical reasoning and political agency. Knowledge that comes from experience limits the knower to that experience. The shift to localised knowledge fixes groups in the working class to a never ending present as schools that use a social constructivist approach to knowledge in the curriculum fail to provide the intellectual tools of conceptual thinking and its medium in advanced literacy that lead to an imagined, yet unknown, future.”

In the concluding discussion (as it was a premiere, part of the Glasgow Film Festival ,the producer, director and Liz Lochhead were there for a chat and questions afterwords, to give us some insight into the production and its meanings), it turns out that the first draft of the film ran for three hours featuring six of the children – I can’t wait for that director’s cut when it comes out on DVD (producer, please take note!).

Michael Young on the importance of ‘knowledge’:

http://www.shiftingthinking.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/1.1-Young.pdf

also here:

 

Water Footprint: we all have one. What’s yours?

water footprint‘Carbon footprint’ – the legacy of carbon released into the atmosphere that we leave to our descendants, the people and the planet of future times – is a term we have become familiar with over the past three decades as the science of climate change has moved out of the labs and pressure group handouts into common civic understanding, if not yet common civic action. It perfectly captures the idea that long after we have passed by, the impact we made on the planet and its biochemical systems remains.

The haunting metaphor of the ‘footprint’ – which brings to mind those massive dinosaur prints preserved in stone as a record of their time, millions of years ago – has also been applied to the legacy of a variety of other aspects of human consumption and waste, not least our use of water. New Scientist recently covered current thinking on the ‘water footprint’ in a two page interview with Arjen Hoekstra, a Dutch professor of water management (click here ).

Of course, here in Scotland, we have no shortage of water, so it’s hard for us to imagine that however much we use we are going to have a negative impact on human life in the future, but our ‘water footprint’ is not just what we consume in our own homes, gardens and work. A large part of our ‘footprint’ is elsewhere, left by the production in other parts of the world of the goods we consume here. Three quarters of the water footprint of people who live in the UK is outside the UK, in the countries where the goods and food we consume originate. Whereas our water cycle as an island on the edge of the Atlantic ensures that whatever we put back into the rivers and water table from our use of water will eventually fall back down on us (in fact climate change projections suggest parts of the UK will be wetter longer term in the future), in many parts of the world, water reserves used in agriculture are not being replenished.  Around 90% of humanity’s global water footprint comes from food production and around a third of that comes from animal feed production.  So next time you’re checking those food miles, and the contribution they make to your carbon footprint, just add in your water footprint as well.

More on this from National Geographic here and from the Water Footprint Network .

water footprint

 

Election Briefings from Moray House

I’ve been working with colleagues on this series of Briefings to inform the forthcoming Scottish election debates. Check them out here:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/education/election-briefings

… and here’s an example focusing on education 15-18, the ‘senior phase’ …

http://www.ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/electionbriefing12-school-post-school-15-05-16.pdf?utm_source=Briefing&utm_medium=SchoolPostSchool&utm_content=election&utm_campaign=MorayHouseBriefing