Saturday, 25 April 2015

Speech to The Wanstead Society Hustings - Saturday 25 April 2015

Hello. Some of you may know me. My name is Ashley Gunstock and I’ve lived, campaigned and stood for The Green Party in the Leyton & Wanstead area, since 1998.

Therefore, although I don’t represent one of the so-called ‘major’ parties, I hope that you will listen to what I have to say, in the next couple of minutes, because I’m going to simply cut to the chase about what exactly is going on in this room today.

We now have a centre right; a centre left and a centre left/right, left right party fighting for our votes, using all sorts of cynical political incentives to get into power. Labour, which mostly keeps banging on about how it’s going to save the NHS and introduce slightly fairer taxation, may merely cut just slightly less than the Conservatives & Liberal Democrats, who have lost all credibility after their 5 years of appalling coalition government. But Labour will, along with the others, continue with one insane austerity programme or another. And of course we have UKIP, with its two major media spotlight policies on Immigration and The EU which, no matter how it dresses itself up, is the party for right-wing protest and cannot really be taken as a viable option.

And so now for some common sense. The Green Party, believe it or not, is not just about the environment. Environmentalism is the ideology from which our policies stem, just as socialism was for the Labour Party; Liberalism was for the Democrats and Capitalism has always been for the Conservatives, until fairly recently now that the others have jumped on the bandwagon. Yet Environmentalism is the overarching umbrella for genuine socialism, true liberal thought and honest (not rampant) enterprise. We believe that our governments have, for far too long, been taking us in completely the opposite direction to the way we should be heading. The Greens would not cut but invest in keeping and creating jobs in the Education, renewable energy, home building and public transport sectors, as well as The NHS – in short, recreate that little old concept of a true & just society. And it is all possible and affordable.

The Green Party has – for the last 45 years – and will continue to put pressure on our governments, to do what is ideally right for us all. We have been successful in no small measure to date. We have been growing in influence at all levels of government and, with the recent Green surge, are growing in large numbers too. In addition to all of the above we also insist on the electorate being given the opportunity of exercising its democratic right, to vote on a referendum on the ‘UK in or out of Europe’ question. So, instead of accepting the ‘same old, same old’, join us and register a worthwhile vote of protest for a real alternative and change for the better. Vote Green on 7 May. Thank you.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Speech to The Waltham Forest NUT Hustings - Tuesday 31 March 2015

Education, education, education. Educating Essex, Educating Yorkshire, Educating East London...well Walthamstow, actually. It’s getting so that the only recognition Education gets these days is when it’s packaged in a reality television show!

Lessons will be learned. How many times have you heard that old mantra? Lessons will be learned. Oh no they won’t, not judging by the performance of this and previous governments, stretching back for well over a quarter of a century. Almost all of their Secretaries of State for Education’s end of term reports would read: Can and must do better!”

I have been teaching, in primary, secondary, higher education and Special Educational Needs schools since 1989 and am, at present, working at a Pupil Referral Unit; so I believe that I know the state of Education. And I am sure that you’ll agree that the pressure to deliver it has been rapidly increasing for some time. And we all know why. This most vital of subjects – the gateway to all of our personal, social, intellectual and environmental understanding – is being interfered with by politicians who think that they know what’s best for it, have their own personal agenda or simply pay lip-service to it and are not bold enough to pay the money necessary to fund this most essential of public services. Education, which should be a life-long experience, is used by governments as the political football of choice, which they just keep kicking into the touch, because they’re so out of touch.

Teachers, for too long now, have been over-burdened, under-valued and under-paid and Education, instead of being the acquisition of knowledge, on which you were once tested, has now virtually become an exercise in showing pupils how to pass exams for irrelevant and unreflective league tables. Yet teachers, who have to fight for everything that should be their right, in reality, spend more hours outside of their regular school day: planning, preparing, assessing, marking, setting exams, covering lessons, attending staff meetings, being forced to achieve ever rising targets and held accountable - not only by management but also at Parents’ Evenings for the, on average, 150 pupils they have to teach each day – by not just a few demanding or disinterested mothers and/or fathers. And they’re all the while being told that they must do more work for less pay, or risk losing their jobs to younger, less experienced employees, often from The New World, who have fewer responsibilities and less expenditure.

Nevertheless our most recent governments have insisted that the professionals – running the bankrupt and bailed-out London based banking institutions – must be well paid, because of their high level financial responsibilities and ‘expertise’. So I find it appalling that teachers, especially in London, don’t get the fair pay that they need and deserve, to do their job of work to the best of their ability, without added financial pressure. After all they provide a far greater return for the money!

Therefore it’s time to turn the tables (league or otherwise) with a radical shake-up and put pressure on the powers that be at Westminster. And you now have the means to do it. There is a credible, vibrant and growing political party which values Education and the teachers who provide it and whose Education policy is virtually the same as The NUT’s.

That party is The Green Party, which believes that the profession should be put back into the hands of educators to manage and that if you want a good quality service then it has to be paid for! So give the tired old parliamentary parties a good run for your money at the forthcoming General Election and vote Green on 7 May!