The Tolpuddle Festival via Zoom
As a fairly regular attender of the annual July week-end Tolpuddle festival organised by the South West Regional TUC, it was a pleasure to Zoom in on this year’s online version. I watched the workshop entitled “Class of Covid 19 – what next for education.” The chair was Hannah Packham from the NEU and the panel was made up of: Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT, Gemma Haley, Co-ordinator of a Parent Organisation and promoter of “More Than A Score”, Kate Green MP, the new Shadow Secretary for Education, Mary Boustead, Joint General Secretary of the NEU and Jo Grady, General Secretary of the UCU.
As for the three general secretaries, what impressed me about them was the commonality of concern and the unity in their ideas on how to solve the problems of state educational provision brought about by a reactionary Tory Government. It was also good to see a sympathetic representative of a parent organisation. She uses social media to campaign to end the current high pressure national testing of children including the English baseline assessment of little ones. As for the MP, she spoke well enough but in fairness she had only been in the post for three weeks so it is early days really for critically comment. As to how well she will work with the trade unions and the SEA, time will tell. Overall it was an interesting debate and I urge readers to attend the festival in the future.
To learn about aspects of Working Class History
As a friend of the Working Class Library, in Salford, I was invited to join in their summer lectures via zoom. I really enjoyed listening and learning about all manner of things, such as: the early history of May Day, the Irish Civil Rights Movement, the early campaigning days of Tom Paine, the work of Mary Macarthur, the struggle for women’s rights, to name but a few subjects covered.
The other source of political interest I found was through recently registering with the South West Regional TUC’s online Radical History School. So far I have listened to a lecture entitled ‘The Mayflower Mavericks’. The Mayflower set sail 400 years ago, a commemoration, that marked the ending of feudalism and the rise of capitalism and colonialism. Other topics covered have been the life of the French radical Jules Michelet and inclusive history looking at aspects of global power, of race/slavery and gender.
While the current political situation in the UK and USA etc can at times be quite depressing – joining in these events, I found inspiring. They acted as a reminder of how our forefathers and mothers fought with passion and commitment, for radical change to favour the many and not the few.