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Volume 53 Number 14, May 19, 2023 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Major Theme of the Coronation

"Serve and Not Be Served"

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Major Theme of the Coronation "Serve and Not Be Served"

The Campaign to Replace Ofsted:
Teachers Fight against the Dehumanising of Education and the Assault on Teachers' Well-Being

Workers' Movement:
Emergency Protest against the Anti-Strike Bill

No to NATO! No to War!:
Britain Again First to Further Escalate War In Ukraine

World at War & the Movement for Peace:
A Trade Union Issue


Major Theme of the Coronation

"Serve and Not Be Served"


Photo: I Magara

A major theme of the Coronation of King Charles III was contained in the king's oath, as well as the sermon preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The Archbishop declared: "We are here to crown a King, and we crown a King to serve."


Photo: Getty Images

The sermon said, "The King of Kings ... was anointed not to be served, but to serve." It continued, "He creates the unchangeable law of good authority that with the privilege of power comes the duty to serve." Lest there be any doubt, Justine Welby referred to Charles: "We have seen those priorities in the life of duty lived by our King." So, the Archbishop of Canterbury, pressing on with the insistence that Charles III was defender of the faith and not of faiths, claimed that this guidance came from the King of Kings, and that noblesse oblige, that "with the privilege of power comes the duty to serve", as his sermon puts it. But who does one serve? What is the obligation? The Archbishop answers: "Each of us is called by God to serve. Whatever that looks like in our own lives, each of us can choose God's way today. We can say to the King of Kings, God Himself, as does the King here today, 'give grace that in thy service I may find perfect freedom'." It appears, by a sleight of hand, that the King's obligation is not to use his exalted position, his wealth, his supposed nobility, to benefit those around him, his subjects for example. From his spiritual power comes his secular authority. The point is that the emphasis on this theme in the coronation is meant to counter the affirmation that the people should fight for their rights and interests, and that instead things must be this way, the way they are, the way of the status quo, with all looking up to the authority of the King in this world, with supreme power invested in him, however negated by history this may seem.

It has to be said that King Charles seemed less than enthusiastic in giving commitment to this principle. In this manner he swore to be a faithful Protestant and secure the Protestant succession to the throne, but be a blessing to "all thy children, of every faith and belief". But the kernel of it was: not to be served but to serve. The Accession Declaration Oath (one of a number of oaths which he signs) says: "I Charles do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant, and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my powers according to law." Kneeling before the altar, King Charles says: "God of compassion and mercy whose Son was sent not to be served but to serve, give grace that I may find in thy service perfect freedom and in that freedom knowledge of thy truth." This may have been a relevant declaration when made by Henry VIII in the 16th century, but is now out of time and place..


Photo: S Berry

The point is two-fold. One is that the King should be seen as an example and held in awe and his values upheld, long to reign over us. Second is that the people should "serve" without asking for or demanding any "reward". This line of exhortation goes hand in hand with the actual wrecking and destruction of public authority. The conception of "volunteerism" and "civic patriotism" has been promoted since the time of Tony Blair's "New Labour", taking its lead from the "communitarianism" promoted by George W Bush in the US. It was an important plank of Blair's "Third Way", under which a society of communities and community values must enter into partnership with government by being coerced into "voluntary" work. The year 2006 was even labelled the "Year of the Volunteer". Any action by the people counter to this can then be labelled as "anti-social behaviour". This has resonance in the present where action by public service workers in defence of their rights and the rights of all are held to be violating their responsibility to society. The promotion by David Cameron of the conception of the "Big Society", where public services are run by citizens who allegedly have the public good at heart, was a further development in the conception of "volunteerism". [1]

This theme of volunteerism was carried over onto Bank Holiday Monday, which was declared a Big Help Out day of national volunteering, though far from evident in the life of the country. It had been mooted that the day was at risk for lack of participants. Government research had shown that volunteering is at a historic low. Government statistics had revealed that in 2021-22, 34% of respondents to the Community Life Survey volunteered at least once a month, down from 41% the year before and 44% in 2013-14. The latest figures mark the lowest ever participation recorded by the survey, which has been running for a decade.

It cannot be claimed as it was in the last century that the monarch is the major British political invention that keeps not only the "nation" unified but provides stability and unity to the entire "realms" and "dominions". The peoples are rejecting this outrageous claim, and are affirming that the opposite is the case, that their experience has been one of slavery, domination and oppression. It is therefore significant that these peoples are not only rejecting this domination and claiming reparations, but are demanding and working for the peoples' empowerment and a democratic renewal of the political institutions and governance, a complete renewal based on the sovereignty of the people. The rejection of the system of "constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy" is the essential break with the past that is setting the peoples on the road to independence and being in control of their own affairs, forming a united front with working and oppressed peoples the world over.

The aim of "peace, order and good government" is not going to be served by the crowning of King Charles, since the coronation is, as it is perceived to be, anachronistic, and in contradiction with what the times call for. The challenge which confronts the people is how to end their disempowerment and put themselves in a position of being in control of all affairs which are affecting their lives.

As long as the fictitious person of state in the shape of the monarchy is at the apex of all the political and constitutional arrangements, this challenge faces a serious block. The status quo is not an option, and kingship is, and is seen to be, moribund. What the people are striving for is a fresh and healthy perspective, for which a modern definition of sovereignty is required, centred on empowerment of the people. It is necessary for the progress of society to abolish the monarchy and remove the block to the people's empowerment that the monarchy represents.

Note

[1] For articles in Workers' Daily Internet Edition on "volunteerism", see the following:

http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/ww2001/d01-21.htm#lead
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/ww2001/d01-85.htm#bush
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wdie-06/d06-002.htm#lead
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wdie-06/d06-008.htm#lead
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wdie-10/d10-037.htm#lead

Article Index



The Campaign to Replace Ofsted

Teachers Fight against the Dehumanising of Education and the Assault on Teachers' Well-Being


Schools Week, February 1

Ofsted - the Office for Standards in Education - and its system of inspections is having a deleterious effect on education standards, contrary to its claims, and inextricably linked with this is its devastating effect on teachers and their well-being. Its practice runs counter to the ability of teachers themselves to be in control of education, and participate in setting the direction for teaching and education in a modern society. Everything is being reduced to the delivery of what are called standards, as though children were inanimate products of a production process.

Ofsted is a non-ministerial government department, reporting to Parliament. The Conservative government of John Major introduced the inspectorate under the Education (Schools) Act 1992, to supervise the inspection of and report on each state-funded school in the country. Its remit was expanded in 2007 to include other children's services and care.

Aside from reporting on schools in the form of a written document, Ofsted publishes all qualitative aspects of a school's performance in the form of a single overall score, meaning that all schools are graded on a four-point scale: outstanding, good, requires improvement, and inadequate. Until November 2020, mainstream schools judged outstanding at their last full inspection were exempt from further routine inspection.

Ruth Perry, a headteacher, took her own life while waiting for an Ofsted report. Workers' Weekly sends heartfelt condolences to her and her family. Many educators worldwide share her families' grief. The Ofsted report downgraded her school, Caversham Primary in Reading, Berkshire, from "outstanding" to "inadequate", due to so-called "safeguarding" issues.

On April 21, her sister, Prof Julia Waters, said that she wanted inspections to be suspended to allow an independent inquiry into both what happened at the school and of Ofsted's inspection culture. Speaking to BBC News, she said it was a "potentially dangerous system", and that a pause the "decent, empathetic, human thing to do". Her request has been denied by the government. [1]


Teachers strike, May 2

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman has simply said that Ofsted "will continue to listen" and is trialling changes to its complaints process. She stressed that its single overall grade would remain.

The creation of Ofsted continued what had been initiated by Margaret Thatcher under the Education Reform Act 1988. That Act had established the National Curriculum, and had introduced extensive testing in schools and the publication of league tables. A major feature of this line of development was centralisation and erosion of the role of Local Education Authorities (LEAs), aimed at consolidating a capital-centred content for education and abiding by neo-liberal norms and rules [2].

Before 1992, schools were inspected by the LEAs, but this system became a block at that time to the furthering of the anti-social offensive in education. A new centralised bureaucratic overseer was therefore set up to break down the remnants of the old social democratic arrangements in education and impose the new neo-liberal direction. Gone was any veneer of an aim of enlightenment; the aim of what was demanded by business was now overt and was to be enforced and monitored.

During its early years, Ofsted was particularly controversial due to the deliberately confrontational style of its first Chief Inspector, Chris Woodhead, whose departure in 2000 was widely celebrated by teachers. In this period, Ofsted pursued a strong-arm policy, naming and shaming allegedly "failing" schools and staff. Woodhead also campaigned against "fashionable" teaching methods and falling standards in schools in favour of "old fashioned" education. [3]


Dr Mary Bousted, Schools Week

Alongside seizing control and restructuring education around neo-liberal aims, and as part of this agenda, was the introduction of market forces in education. Ofsted is a crucial component part of the schools market, with the single headline figure being a school's selling point by which to compare it to other schools in an area, and a key factor in house prices.

Successive governments have assumed wide powers over education authorities and, particularly under New Labour and after, have amalgamated control into various capital-centred education schemes such as academisation. Thus an Ofsted rating became a powerful tool in implementing this agenda. For a maintained school, an overall Ofsted rating of inadequate triggers the compulsory conversion into an academy, which not only introduces the private interests of multi-academy trusts, but imposes a change of management and school culture.

The NEU conference in April launched a new campaign to abolish Ofsted. According to the union, "this toxic inspectorate is driving school leaders and teachers out of the profession and fuelling a mental health crisis among school staff." [4] Earlier in March, NEU members had delivered the union's Replace Ofsted petition to the Department for Education, signed by over 52,000 teachers, school leaders, parents and school students.

"Ofsted has been the thorn in the side of both teachers and education for decades. No school expects to not have an accountability system in place, but Ofsted represents all that is wrong about the tick-box approach to education that successive governments have pursued," NEU Joint General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted said. "For too long, this unfair and unreliable inspectorate has driven up unnecessary workload and stress for education professionals, significantly contributing to the alarming numbers leaving the profession every year. Research shows that Ofsted is unfairly biased against schools and colleges in poor areas and is far more likely to slap them with an unjust negative judgment - even if they are improving."

Dr Bousted added, "This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Ofsted's establishment, but the National Audit Office (NAO) have recently concluded that even Ofsted itself doesn't know if its measures are having the intended impact."

The union has also urged school leaders to refuse to work as Ofsted inspectors until a health and safety assessment of the system is carried out.

Since its inception thirty years ago, teachers have demanded an end to Ofsted and given many warnings of its consequences. Consistent with the move towards rule by police powers and imposition at that stage of the anti-social offensive, Ofsted brought a mentality of the overseer in a position of power, undermining teaching by attacking the dignity and ability of teachers, rather than assisting teachers to exercise control over the work they do and to deliver education as a right for all. Many teachers have suffered stress-related illness, anxiety and depression because of Ofsted inspections and the culture of continuous monitoring of teaching practice.

The tragedy at Caversham has itself sparked widespread outrage, and in the ensuing ongoing debate the strength of feeling is evident. There are widespread concerns over teachers' pay, causing many to struggle to pay their bills and plunging many below the poverty line, as well as the threats to teachers' pensions, the lack of investment in school buildings and infrastructure, including a lack of funding for textbooks, basic supplies and school meals for children. Amidst these concerns, with the expectation and conviction of teachers during the pandemic that they would carry on delivering an education for the young people in their care even if doing so placed their own lives at risk, and the growing stress of an increasing workload where many are simply leaving the profession altogether, the government's response has been an almost callous and brutal increasing of an Ofsted inspection regime that for many is the final straw. This situation comes at a time of the growing sentiment that Enough is Enough. All teachers' unions are now joining together in co-ordinated strike action. There is also a growing consciousness of the need to safeguard the future of education. Generally, conditions are deteriorating, and a serious staffing crisis plagues the education system nationwide, made worse by years of under-investment.

The current education strikes have proven that educators are not going to support cutbacks in education funding, which will do nothing to solve problems and to ensure decent education will be delivered as of right. A challenge facing the workers' movement as a whole is how to organise itself further so that it can put the justice of its cause into play to favour its own interests. The movement faces stepped-up attempts from governments to eliminate any say, dismissing the demand against Ofsted and other issues. A realisation has emerged that conditions have changed and that working people must act in new ways, while Ofsted stands as a bastion of the old and its conception of "deliverology".

The defiance of the workers' movement unites in self-defence to assert its No! to dictate. Teachers and education workers across the country are following this lead by speaking out about their conditions and refusing to be silenced. The demand that Ofsted be replaced is just and should be supported.

Notes
1. "Halt Ofsted inspections after Ruth Perry's death, says sister", BBC News, April 21, 2023
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-65339944
2. "London Political Forum Discusses Opposing the Offensive against Education", Workers' Weekly, May 18, 2001
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/ww2001/d01-84.htm
3. "The Ofsted Inspection Framework - Time For A Change?", politics.co.uk
https://www.politics.co.uk/reference/ofsted/
4. "Replace Ofsted", NEU
https://neu.org.uk/replace-ofsted

Article Index



Workers' Movement

Emergency Protest against the Anti-Strike Bill

The protest will be held on Monday 22 May in Westminster at 6pm.

The TUC is holding a protest against the government's Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill on Monday 22 May, the same day the legislation returns to parliament.

The protest will be held in Westminster at 6pm.

Register your attendance here [https://actionnetwork.org/events/emergency-protest-protect-the-right-to-strike/]

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, is a full-frontal attack on working people and the trade unions they organise within, Unison says. It seeks to drastically curtail labour rights in Great Britain and allows employers to sack the very people on whose hard work and goodwill our public services depend.

Unions are demanding that MPs vote to reject the whole Bill and pledge to repeal the Bill if it passes and they form the next government.

Further information is available on the TUC website [https://www.tuc.org.uk/ProtectRightToStrike].

Article Index



No to NATO! No to War!

Britain Again First to Further Escalate War In Ukraine

On May 11, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed that the government is supplying long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine in what he claimed was a "calibrated and proportionate response" by London to the situation in Ukraine. Once again Britain is the first to supply such longer-range missiles to Ukraine in the proxy war Britain is waging against Russia in Ukraine alongside the US, Germany and other NATO countries. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also announced on May 15 the supply of hundreds more missiles and long-range attack drones when he met with President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelenskyy at Chequers who was on a "whistle stop" tour of Paris, Berlin and Rome. It was only at the end of March that the British government chose the day of 20th anniversary of their illegal war against Iraq to announce that it was the first country to supply the depleted uranium (DU) shells to Ukraine. [1]

Storm Shadow is an air launched missile, with a range of 155 miles which was developed from 1994 by French company Matra and British Aerospace Dynamics. Since 2001 it has been manufactured by MBDA Missile Systems as a joint venture of British, French and Italian arms manufactures - BAE systems, Airbus and Leonardo [2]. It had been previously reported that several Storm Shadow weapons have already been delivered and there are already reports that such missiles have hit civilian areas in Lugansk which had previously been out of range to the Ukraine missiles. Russia's Ministry of Defence has just announced that seven of the missiles have already been shot down, while Western-made munitions and 22 drones have also been intercepted.

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In their statements, Britain and the US said that the Storm Shadow missiles will not be used outside "Ukrainian sovereign territory". However, the real intentions of the US and Britain in Ukraine are revealed in their statements and treaties with the Kiev regime, that Crimea is considered by them to fall within the term Ukraine's "sovereign territory". In other words, one key aim for Britain and the US in supplying these long-range missiles is to use their Ukraine proxy war to attack Crimea and Russia's Black Sea Fleet and the Crimean bridge. The longing to occupy Crimea and the Black Sea countries, Russian territory, by a regime allied with Anglo/US forces is a dangerous dream for world hegemony that goes back centuries with Britain's infamous Crimean War against Russia.

The US as well as the old European powers of the EU and Britain, hope that they can make gains by laying waste to Ukraine in this proxy war against Russia and this is the continuation of their record of direct interference in Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Especially with the western supported Maidan coup in Kiev in 2014, Britain with its dominant arms industry has taken this to another level with the arms makers making huge gains out of the conflict in Ukraine. They care not for peace, or of the danger of this catastrophic war which is aimed at the peoples of the region.


Unmanned drone used in Ukraine, manufactured by Qinetiq

The fuelling of the conflict by the US, Britain and others does not respect international law, but can be seen in the context of the US-led "rules-based international order" with the danger of further escalation globally. Before Russia's military operation, the US and Britain directed the Ukrainian regime for their own ends to repeatedly refuse to implement the UN backed Minsk agreements [3] on Donbas. They threatened Russia in the Black Sea and with their military and strategic agreements with Ukraine egged on the Ukrainian regime in Kiev to seize these territories of Crimea and Donbas that Ukraine had never controlled since their Maidan coup in 2014. In doing so, they dismissed the claims of the people of Crimea and Sevastopol, Donbas and Ukraine for a peaceful resolution of these issues, a claim of the people which is backed by established international law following World War II. The sovereign rights of nations and peoples, irrespective of ethnic make-up, can only be resolved by the peoples themselves and not by this so-called "rules-based international order" imposed by NATO and particularly by the US and Britain who recognise "sovereign territories" when it suits their interests and flout nations' sovereignty when that suits their interests.

We call on the working class and people of Britain to continue to condemn and step up their opposition to the warmongering actions of the British government, and to reject the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine as serving the interests of the US and NATO in their proxy war against Russia. Such a stand is vital for the future peaceful development of the world under the control of the people themselves.

No to NATO! No to War!

Notes
1. 20th Anniversary of the Anglo-US Invasion of Iraq
Anglo-US-led NATO Block is Still "Not In Our Name"
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-23/ww23-09/ww23-09-01.htm
2. According to their website MBDA is the only European group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems to meet the whole range of current and future needs of the three armed forces. (Britain, France and Italy)
https://www.mbda-systems.com/about-us/
3. Minsk - The UN agreements required negotiations between the two republics and the Ukraine government, which have never occurred.
https://comw.org/pda/fulltext/UNSC-Res-2202-Minsk.pdf

Article Index



World at War & the Movement for Peace

A Trade Union Issue

Sat 20 May - 10am-4pm
Brunswick Methodist Centre
Brunswick Pl, Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7BJ

Conference hosted by Newcastle Stop the War Coalition

Supported by Newcastle upon Tyne Trades Union Council, National Education Union Northern Region, South Tyneside Trades Union Council

Stop the War Coalition writes that "the US is ramping up the pressure on China, with full support from the British government and other NATO allies. All this is raising tensions around the world, and in the middle of the worst attacks on living standards since the 1930s they want us to pay for this new militarism. The Tories are attempting to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP - way above the European average.

"Newcastle Stop the War has called this conference because we believe that working people are the main victims of war and that the millions being spent on arms and the military should be redirected to the NHS, schools, social care, green technology and other essential services. The slogan 'welfare not warfare' should be taken up by the whole of the trade union movement."

Article Index




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