Saturday, 1 October 2016

Education, Not Segregation

I would have wished Theresa May a happy sixtieth birthday on Facebook, but she has inexplicably never accepted my Friend Request.

Jeremy Corbyn was in Jarrow today, for the eightieth anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade.

There were commemorations of the seventieth anniversary, but the then Leader of the Labour Party did not attend, despite his constituency's having been in the same county as Jarrow in 1936.

Corbyn has just turned up in Newcastle, at the  march and rally for Education, Not Segregation.

Social media today are full of stories of having had to turn down grammar school places due to an inability to afford the uniforms or the buses, of having had to fail the 11-plus on purpose in order to spare one's parents such expenses, and so on.

These things were the norm.

They remained the norm long into the post-War period. The social composition of the grammar schools proves that, where this system still exists, these things are still the norm.

Someone else got the places, of course. Someone less clever, or at least who had done less well at the 11-plus, but who had richer parents.

Someone else gets the places, of course. Someone less clever, or at least who has done less well at the 11-plus, but who has richer parents.

Class is to Britain what race is to America, and for not unconnected historical reasons. This is the great Civil Rights struggle of our time and place.

And there are many dimensions to it.

It should no longer be possible to become the MP for Sedgefield, or the Leader of the Labour Party (as it now would not be), or the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, without ever having heard of the Jarrow Crusade.

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