Thursday, April 06, 2017

Free school meals for all - paid for by those who choose private education!

A Labour Government will implement free school meals for all primary age children, funded by levying Value Added Tax on fees paid by those who choose to send children to private, fee-paying schools.

This is an excellent answer to a Tory Britain in which children go hungry – and is also a positive education policy in its own right. Research confirmed by the National Centre for Social Research and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown offering universal access to free school meals improves educational attainment through improvements in pupils’ productivity, enabling primary school pupils to advance by around two months on average.

The redistributive element of the proposed funding for this positive measure (which answers the perennial “where will the money come from” question) is also good politics. It is not just that Labour policy today pushed Labour-bashing out of the BBC radio news headlines – it is that this policy clearly aligns Labour with the people the Party exists to represent (and proposes that those who can afford to should pay the price). This policy can unite Labour supporters, former Labour supporters and potential Labour supporters.

If this policy is “divisive” it only divides those who need – and believe in – social justice from those who, benefitting from social injustice (or hoping in future to do so) do not. Labour needs to frame political debate, wherever we can, around this division, rather than divisions around nationalism (for example) which fragment our social base and subordinate our polity to reaction.

Labour has some good progressive policies on education – and Labour members and supporters are currently being invited to develop these policies (which can certainly be improved). With a mass membership throughout the country we need to focus on developing and promoting socialist policies to offer to the working people of this country, whilst campaigning in the here and now to protect our interests.

I look forward to seeing delegates at the General Committee of Brighton Pavilion Constituency Labour Party this evening to discuss taking forward our Party's campaigning locally.

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