We must crack down on exploitation of teachers by colleges and universities


TUC research shows that 63 per cent of FE colleges and more than half of universities use zero-hours contracts, often in large numbers

LecturerThis week is the TUC’s Decent Jobs Week and it’s certainly well timed. As a recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed, incomes have fallen and the number of working families in poverty is growing.

One major cause of working poverty is the actions of employers and in particular the way they have actively destroyed decent jobs.

The casualisation of work and bogus self-employment and zero-hours contracts have proliferated, most commonly in the low-paid, low-skilled service sectors that make up such a large part of our low-wage economy.

But students in our further education colleges or paying £9,000-a-year university fees might be surprised to learn that many of the people teaching them are also on appallingly casualised contracts and struggle to make ends meet.

The college teacher who wrote so movingly in the Guardian recently about her decision to leave the sector to work in retail is not, tragically, unusual.

Our research last year showed that 63 per cent of FE colleges and more than half of universities use zero-hours contracts, often in large numbers. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , , | 17 Responses

Majority of the public reject Osborne’s austerity plan


Poll shows that neither Cameron nor Miliband are trusted to perform safe cuts

George Osborne ncrjA ComRes poll carried out for The Independent shows that the majority of the public rejects George Osborne’s plan to cut public spending faster to clear the deficit.

Only 30 per cent of people agree that government spending should be reduced faster, even if this means cutting public services, while 66 per cent disagree with this approach. This means the public disagree with Osborne’s austerity plan by a 2-1 margin. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Responses

Hilary Mantel and the ‘vicious’ left


The proposal to stop the broadcast of a fictional portrayal of Margaret Thatcher reveals something far more pernicious than an author’s fantasy

hilaryAccording to Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express today, ‘there is a vicious streak in modern left-wing politics’.

He was reminded of this, apparently, because of the BBC’s ‘grotesque’ decision to broadcast Hilary Mantel’s story ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’ on Radio 4.

Despite the fact that it is a work of fiction in question, the right wing press view the decision as a prime example of the BBC’s incorrigible left wing bias.

The story, which McKinstry describes as a ‘sick Leftist fantasy’, imagines the 1983 murder of the then-prime minister by an IRA sniper.

It is just one of the stories in a collection of the same name, the whole of which the BBC will play on its Book at Bedtime series. Read More »

Posted in Media Integrity | Tagged , , , , , , | 34 Responses

How an Islamist made the case for secularism


A Pakistani cleric has found himself a victim of the very laws that he promotes

holyPakistani pop singer turned religious cleric Junaid Jamshed has been accused of blasphemy recently. Jamshed has now taken refuge in London, rightly fearing for his life in Pakistan.

The allegation occurred after Jamshed re-enacted a hadith which suggests that the Prophet Muhammad’s youngest wife Ayesha occasionally faked illness to seek her husband’s attention. The re-enactment was entitled ‘even the prophet’s company cannot tame a woman’.

Jamshed is notorious – or renowned, depending on who you talk to – for his misogynistic views. He is on record as saying:

“If you want a happy life, do not teach your wives how to drive a car. Do not let her go outside. She might leave you.” Read More »

Posted in Multilateral Foreign Policy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 38 Responses

Poll shows that Conservatives are now considered more right wing than UKIP


The ComRes survey suggests that Labour could lose centre-ground votes to Farage

UKIP MEP1A shocking poll published in the Independent yesterday showed that voters view the Conservatives as more right wing than UKIP.

The poll, carried out by ComRes for the Sunday Mirror and the Independent on Sunday, asked people to position themselves on a political spectrum from 0 to 10, with 0 meaning ‘very left wing’ and 10 meaning ‘very right wing’.

On this scale, UKIP’s average score was 6.6, while the Conservatives’  was 6.9. The Liberal Democrats were placed at 4.9, and Labour at 4.1.

There were some interesting disparities between the positioning of parties and their leaders;  David Cameron’s average score was 6.8 and Nick Clegg’s 5.1, showing how the coalition government has compromised the standing of both leaders with their respective supporters. Read More »

Posted in Left Foot Forward | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Responses

The challenges facing Jim Murphy are immense


The new Scottish Labour leader will need to show Scottish voters that the party north of the border is able to think independently

jimmurphyAs Jim Murphy begins his first week at the helm of Scottish Labour, he would do well to contemplate the Sun/You Gov poll of Scottish voters published over the weekend.

The good news for Scottish Labour is that when voters were asked which of the candidates to lead the party they preferred, Jim Murphy came out on top, enjoying the support of 29 per cent of respondents. That, however, is about all there is to cheer about, given that 52 per cent simply did not know who would make the best leader. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Responses

There is no evidence that migrants are under-cutting the wages of British workers


We need to apportion blame to the bosses and their business models, rather than scapegoating one group of workers

visaaEd Miliband has made another immigration speech this morning, one month after the one made by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.

Both speeches set out a line that EU migrants are under-cutting the wages of British-born workers. Indeed ‘under-cutting’ has become a stock phrase of all recent Labour speeches on immigration. But what is the evidence for this and what are the solutions?

The impact of immigration on jobs and wages is complex, and statistics are regularly traded between those with strong feelings about migration. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Responses

Why it’s dishonest to claim that the NHS isn’t being privatised


To hold ideological support for the privatisation is one thing, but to pretend it isn’t happening is a far more insidious lie

NHSjLast week on BBC Question Time, the panellists were met with yet another question about NHS privatisation.

The Times columnist Camilla Cavendish attacked the ‘misleading’ use of the word ‘privatisation’ and immediately asserted that such a trend simply ‘isn’t happening’.

Nigel Farage similarly condemned the ‘entirely false debate’ on the issue, concluding that ‘the word privatisation is bandied about without really meaning anything’.

And, to an extent, Farage is right. A fundamental lack of understanding and transparency has surrounded the government’s changes to the NHS.

The incomprehensible and jargon-filled Health and Social Care Act was presented in a way that few people could engage with. Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , | 34 Responses

This week’s most read: breastfeeding, deficit reduction and a roads revolution


Breastfeeding ncrThe most read stories on Left Foot Forward this week: 

1. Ignore Farage and worry about the real breastfeeding scandal - Jill Rutter

2. We don’t need Osborne’s ‘roads revolution’ – we need a green revolution - Josiah Mortimer

3. Why Labour’s deficit plans are genuinely different to those of the government - James Bloodworth

4. Only the Green Party are being honest on airport expansionKeith Taylor

5. Five surprisingly bad places to be an atheist - Ruby Stockham

Posted in Left Foot Forum, Left Foot Forward | Tagged | Leave a comment

Labour are stuck on a ‘things can only be mildly improved’ mantra


Ed Miliband talked sense yesterday, but the electorate still need some form of greater succour

Ed Miliband ncrjMiliband has pronounced on the deficit: some wiggle-room on capital spend, some sombre talk on the size of the challenge, and a pledge to ring fence areas like international development and hospitals, whilst finding the necessary savings elsewhere.

In short, as someone who has criticised him on occasion, I thought this was a pretty reasonable speech.

If nothing else, it’s good to finally see a lectern and not be back in Senate House (as appropriate for the 1930s parallels as that would have been). It all looked more prime ministerial.

But what of the meat? Miliband declared that he was not outlining ‘a shadow Budget, but [giving] a sense of how we will approach these issues in government.’ Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Responses