A tribute to Athelston Winston Best

March 29, 2014 in Blog, Highlights by Gus John

It is impossible to speak or write about the British schooling system and its engagement with the post-war Black presence these last 50 years without calling the name, Winston Best, over and over again.   Read the rest of this entry →

Independent Comparative Case Review published

March 18, 2014 in Blog, Highlights by Gus John

Royal Courts of Justice ("Courts' Closed") by Chris Kealy (Flickr - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Royal Courts of Justice (“Courts’ Closed”) by Chris Kealy (Flickr – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In 2013, the report of the most comprehensive review of Legal Education and Training (LETR) for 30 years was published.  That report was commissioned by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX).  Read the rest of this entry →

Policing by contempt

March 8, 2014 in Blog, Highlights by Gus John

Credits: "Stephen Lawrence memorial", by Darryl_SE7 (Flickr - CC BY-NC 2.0)

Credits: “Stephen Lawrence memorial”, by Darryl_SE7 (Flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0)

So, finally the home secretary is ordering a judge-led inquiry into the activities of undercover police and their corrupt practices. We in the black community have argued since the 1960s that there is a thin dividing line between the police’s illegal and abusive treatment of black people and the racial violence and murders committed by white racists.

In the case of Stephen Lawrence, we have always claimed that from the very outset the Metropolitan Police were key players in a ‘joint enterprise’ with known hard core criminals to thwart the apprehension of Stephen’s murderers and pervert the course of justice. The report by Mark Ellison QC simply confirms what we already knew or otherwise rightly suspected.

At times like these, politicians no less than police top brass express shock and outrage at revelations of corrupt and illegal practices on the part of the police, thus confirming that the historical complaints communities make about the myriad ways in which police abuse their powers and break the law have been roundly ignored by the state.

The harsh reality is that the experience African and Asian communities have had of policing in Britain since the beginning of the 20th century and especially since post-war immigration is of policing with contempt, never mind all the familiar rhetoric about policing by consent.

So, how have we got here? Read the rest of this entry →

Independence in Schooling, Except from Gove!

February 6, 2014 in Blog by Gus John

Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove open the new Perry Beeches III Free School. <br/>Credits: Number 10/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove open the new Perry Beeches III Free School.
Credits: Number 10/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There is a stirring in the soul of Michael Gove that does not augur well for the nation’s children and the schools to which parents are legally bound to send them. The Secretary of State appears to want to bombard the schooling system with at least one new policy initiative per week. It would not surprise me, therefore, if his next target is ante-natal clinics and the monitoring data they could produce on children yet unborn.

Michael Gove is clearly fixated on the role of schooling and education in determining Britain’s economic competitiveness in the global market. The view of schooling he projects, therefore, is of children who should be regarded as economic units from birth, whom schools should process into products that can guarantee the nation’s economic competitiveness. The ‘independent sector’, as reconfigured by Gove to include academies, free schools and state maintained schools that would mirror the traditional independents, is clearly considered to be better at honing those economic units than local authorities and the voluntary aided sector could.

But the one issue Mr Gove seems determined not to pronounce upon, other than the market oriented utilitarianism of schooling, is ‘what is education for’? Read the rest of this entry →

Forward Ever: The Killing of A Revolution

January 23, 2014 in Blog by Gus John

On 25 October 1983, Ronald Reagan sent 8,000 members of the US Armed Forces to invade Grenada, an island with a population of just over 100,000 people, in an operation which he named ‘American Fury’. It is an operation he had been planning ever since the bloodless revolution of 1979 had displaced the US-anointed tyrannical Prime Minister, Eric Gairy.

Thirty years later, Dr Bruce Paddington, Lecturer at the University of the West Indies, has marked the anniversary of the massacre at Fort Rupert on 19 October 1983 and the US invasion with a truly extraordinary film (see trailer below.)  I saw the film on Friday 17 January 2014 at a screening in the auditorium at The British Library, along with some 300 others.

The film takes you on a journey of hope and near despair.

First, one is given a graphic account of the brutal repression of the Gairy regime and its indiscriminate killing of those openly dissenting and challenging that regime, including the murder of Rupert Bishop, father of Maurice who helped plan and executive the overthrow of Eric Gairy while he was on an overseas visit.  Ironically, Fort Rupert, formally Fort George which was renamed in honour of the martyred Rupert Bishop, was to be the place where Maurice Bishop and fifteen of his loyal supporters were massacred by machine gun on 19 October 1983.

You then share in the elation, sense of liberation and hopefulness of the Grenada people as they own the revolution and engage in building popular movements (women, youth, senior citizens, farmers, trade unionists, etc.) and local organs of government, including zonal and parish councils and forums for decision making that fed directly into government policy making.

The film explores the human rights record of the People’s Revolutionary Government and includes testimonies from former detainees, including those who sought to organise a ‘free press’, independent of the government and its channels of mass communication. Among those former detainees interviews were the recently voted out former Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, and the veteran journalist Leslie Pierre. Read the rest of this entry →