The usual mealy-mouthed excuses and evasions from the increasingly tattered ConDem flagship. Guess they plan to flog Millmead off in the next lot of redundant council buildings?
If they carry on cutting jobs and services the largest local authority in Europe will take on the appearance of the ‘Marie Celeste.’

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Millmead children’s home was opened in 2004 to help young people to prepare for life after care. In the home, young people aged 15½ – 17 can learn the skills they need to live on their own.

Young people leaving care are some of the most disadvantaged in the city. They are over-represented in the prison population and among the homeless and more likely to be unemployed.

Yet despite this, the council are determined to push on with their program of cuts. They want to shut the doors by March 31st.

We know that with the support of local people, staff and residents we can win a campaign to save the home, just like staff and parents at Charles House respite centre who won their recent campaign to stay open.

The council have given two reasons they want to close the home:

Under capacity?

The council says the home is…

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Birmingham Against The Cuts

Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts work on local issues around the south and south west of Birmingham. They have been involved in the campaigns that stopped the closure of Charles House, and saw Bournville School reject academy status. Never content to rest on their laurels, the group have a busy March planned:

1) Protest outside Kings Norton Library. (against cutting opening hours from 5 days to 4) Meet at 5pm, Thursday March 8th. Pershore Road South (near the Green).
We will go on to the ward committee at 7pm.

2) Protest at Ward Committee of Bartley Green about closure of Millmeads Childrens home. (details later)

3) Protest outside Northfield Sports and Leisure Centre over its proposed privatisation. Saturday 10th March. 11am outside the baths.

4) Protest outside Stirchley Library 15th March.

5) Weoley Castle Circle protest over Millmeads. Sat 17th March

We will update…

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Plenty to campaign on then. I’ll say ‘Roll on May’ in the hope of a change of control in the Council, in the fond hope of a change of direction and priorities. What you say about pushing changes through – a scorched earth policy? – is a worrying situation. Maybe they won’t joke about having spent all the money!

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Today from 2pm, Birmingham City Council meet to debate and vote on the budget for 2012/13. Over the last 6 months, consultations have been ignored or sidelined by the ConDem coalition locally, in favour of rushing through as many cuts as possible before they lose control of the council at the local elections in May.
With over 200 pages and £100m of cuts being made, we’re not going to list everything here. The complete budget is available here. If anyone wants to tell us about a particular cut that is going to affect you, or that you are aware of, please do so, either by email ( or by commenting on this post.
Many of the cuts announced still have consultation processes to go through or complete. Through the consultation process and alongside lobbying, demonstrations and where applicable strikes, with the support of the people who need the…

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On Class

MY VIRTUAL DAUGHTER recently posted on Facebook a definition of the word ‘snob’ and this set my mind racing to the sketch originally broadcast on ‘The Frost Report’ (but since rebroadcast many times) featuring John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.
The three men talking about class has bubbled to the surface of my consciousness on a number of occasions as a result of conversations in which I have been involved recently, snippets of the satire suggesting themselves as exemplars and descriptors of current issues.
We do appear to be living in one of those periods where the British obsession with class, status and socio-economic labels are under discussion, undergoing analysis and are being heavily employed, by some, as explanators of the ills, misfortunes and injustices perceived in ‘society’ – by many as the reason for those negativities, while others will insist they describe much that is good in society and reflect qualities which will be our salvation.

People can – will – argue until the cows come home about this, there is nothing new in that activity. The British class system proves remarkably resistant to change, although I feel we may be near to a tipping point where, not for the first time in British history, the zeitgeist for those who are well-off tends to call time on some of the more blatantly unfair and exploitative practices of certain of their more embarrassing peers.
Look back in 10 years’ time and see if I am right.

For those who like British social satire at its best, I reproduce below the text of the sketch, with acknowledgement to the estates of the late John Law, the late Marty Feldman, and to the late Ronnie Barker, John Cleese and Ronnie Corbett.


(image reproduced with acknowledgement to the BBC.)

Class Sketch (The Frost Report, 1966)


(In bowler hat, black jacket and pinstriped trousers)
I look down on him (Indicates Barker) because I am upper-class.


(Pork-pie hat and raincoat) I look up to him (Cleese) because he is upper-class; but I look down on him (Corbett) because he is lower-class. I am middle-class.


(Cloth cap and muffler) I know my place. I look up to them both. But I don’t look up to him (Barker) as much as I look up to him (Cleese), because he has got innate breeding.


I have got innate breeding, but I have not got any money. So sometimes I look up (bends knees, does so) to him (Barker).


I still look up to him (Cleese) because although I have money, I am vulgar. But I am not as vulgar as him (Corbett) so I still look down on him (Corbett).


I know my place. I look up to them both; but while I am poor, I am honest, industrious and trustworthy. Had I the inclination, I could look down on them. But I don’t.


We all know our place, but what do we get out of it?


I get a feeling of superiority over them.


I get a feeling of inferiority from him, (Cleese), but a feeling of superiority over him (Corbett).


I get a pain in the back of my neck.

I sourced the script from to whom I am grateful.

A raft of BBC comedy sketches on the subject of class, including the above, may be viewed here:

All that is set out here is true. However one feels bound to ask why the story goes quiet between 1974 and the present. Where is the NUM now, where, in fact is the NCB and the entire UK mining industry?
The real truth is that the struggle of capital and labour continues, it is the common thread in the lives of the working classes. We won. And eased the passage of Thatcherism into the world. Would the eighties have been any easier for us had the Unions failed to engage in ’74? I doubt it. So we lose, either way, because our great hope – a Labour Government fails so often to deliver.

Birmingham Against The Cuts

Since their election in 2010 the ConDem government have driven through a dramatic series of cuts, privatisation and attacks on working conditions.

The NHS is the most visible drive towards privatisation, with education not far behind. The cuts sweeping local government are not simply the effect of the recession, but an attempt to abolish large areas of public services.

The restructuring of public sector pensions has seen significant resistance, with 750,000 on strike on June 30th and 2,500,000 on November 30th. These 2 days of strikes forced some concessions from
the government, and some unions seized the opportunity to withdraw from future action while negotiations continue. Meanwhile the NUT, PCS and UCU have called a strike on March 28th which will see approaching 1,000,000 on strike.

A serious debate is raging in the trade union movement – how far can we go in resisting the government? Will strikes win further…

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A voice heard over the whistling of the wind through the sagebrush and the rumbling of the tumbleweed in the Google + wilderness…

Lifelong Learning Matters

Thanks to the twenty or so people who have responded to the last blog by submitting comments or emailing me directly. It’s good to find out more about people’s opinions and ideas. Although relatively few in number, replies have come from students, tutors, branch volunteers, regional voluntary officers, field staff, managers, a Trustee and an administrator. Some additional exchanges have also taken place on social media.

The WEA is a networked and democratic organisation and it’s good to know that there’s an increasing appetite to use digital technology in our day-to-day practice. Making the most of contemporary networks and links should be second nature to us as our traditions are based firmly on the idea of collective learning within community-based settings.

Varying definitions of the word ‘Association’ capture some of the WEA’s characteristics and the importance of making connections:

Association (noun)

1. a group of people organised for a joint…

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