Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2367

Tories treat A-level students like machines, not people

I’ve just finished my A-levels and wanted to respond to the coverage about examsThe experience of A-levels was filled with tension, anxiety, stress. 

As I write this I can already hear the accusations that students like me are lazy and unwilling to work hard. The question that should be asked about school students is not why are we lazy, but why do so many feel demotivated?

The answer is simple. We aren’t at school to properly learn. Exams are not a measure of how much we know. They are memory tests, and all we are to the Tories is potential workers.

And knowing this is why studying one of my favourite novels became a chore to me.

The amount of pressure on young working class people to “succeed” and achieve the highest grades or be doomed forever is ridiculous. 

Marking some students as “not academic” is no way to encourage us. And even if we consider going to university it’s becoming unobtainable due to massive fees. 

Our chances for education are dependent on how much money we have.

Many young people ask what the point is in doing their A-levels. All that’s on offer is ending up in dead end jobs and narrowing opportunities for their future.

The government has a clear agenda in which they wish to dissuade poor people from excelling beyond the confines of a minimum wage. 

This agenda has become even more blatant with Gove’s plans to make A-level students take all their exams at once at the end of the two-year course.

Young people aren’t machines and cannot be expected to work like machines. Exams are dehumanising and the levels of pressure from them are a sure-fire way to set us up to fail.

Our intelligence can’t be determined on a scale of the letters A-U and grades do not define a person.

Saba ShirazWest London

Fracking Lord’s record of danger on the cheap

Lord Browne, chairman of Cuadrilla, is the former head of BP who was given his peerage by New Labour. 

Under Browne, BP ruthlessly boosted profits by cost cutting that led to the 2005 Texas City oil refinery explosion in which 15 workers were killed.

And in 2006 the Prudhoe Bay oil spillage in Alaska polluted two acres of pristine tundra, earning them a £70 million fine. 

Browne had left BP by the time of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon, the worst oil spillage in US history.

But there is no serious doubt that the disaster was caused by cost-cutting policies he initiated. 

Once New Labour was out of office, he effortlessly switched his allegiance to the Tories. Now Cameron plans to let him loose to frack Britain.

John NewsingerLeicester

Where is the power?

In the article ‘No Hours, No Power?’ it is argued that workers have the ability to stop production and the flow of profits.

This might have been true when Britain was a land of coal mines, factories and warehouses. 

However, most people today are employed in the service sector. Stopping production is not something we can do because we can’t actually see this kind of work visibly and tangibly “producing” anything.

And it won’t have that empowering effect of cogs ceasing production—the sort of thing that really boosts strike morale.

Zahra ToppingGermany

My agency nightmare 

One of the ways companies maximise profits is by hiring from agencies.

I was on a short term contract where I had to pay the company’s national insurance contributions as part of my contract. Their profits were in the tens of millions. 

Of the 16 workers doing the same job, two were employees, and three were on rolling contracts. 

The experience of job insecurity manifested itself as bullying and stress for those in “junior” positions.

There was a high staff turnover and a lot of miserable and bitter workers. This is the reality of working life for millions of people in this country.

Name withheldEast London

Remember opposition to slaughter

Nigel Coward reminds us that next year will see “celebrations” of the slaughter in World War I

Our job is to tell the truth about the war to counter the warmongers’ lies. 

In January 2014 the London Socialist Historians Group has a conference to present an alternative history of the war to the one we shall get from the media. See

And Ken Weller’s excellent little book Don’t Be a Soldier demolishes the myth that the whole working class backed the war. Available at 

Ian BirchallNorth London

Sanctions left me nothing

I was sanctioned and had my Jobseekers money stopped for four weeks. They said I hadn’t done enough to look for work.

I couldn’t afford to travel and had no money to buy food. I felt so isolated and alone. 

Dawn AliEast London

Fracked out of Pennsylvania

For some background on fracking in the US search on “Marcellus Shale fracking”. This shale deposit lies under a large part of the north east United States. 

It was the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale, plus my wife’s health problems, that drove us out of our home in Pennsylvania and to move away. 

You’ll also find some particularly interesting material if you search “Dimock, Pennsylvania”. 

Brian Meadowsby email

Shame on the Labour Party

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant attacks “unscrupulous companies” for employing “cheap foreign workers”.  

It might be hoped the Labour Party would stand up to the racist scapegoating, and have no truck with racism. 

Instead they join in the “open season on ethnic minorities”.

Bryant is reheating Gordon Brown’s slogan of “British Jobs for British Workers”—which he borrowed from the fascist British National Party.

He should be as ashamed of his actions as I am disgusted by them. 

Sasha SimicNorth London

Arrested for exposing the truth

in Abha, Saudi Arabia, religious police assaulted a man for speaking to a woman in the marketplace.

The assault was filmed by Ashraf Fayhad and uploaded to YouTube.

Two days later he was arrested and denounced as an atheist by religious police.

Mohannad Adilby email

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Article information

Tue 20 Aug 2013, 17:49 BST
Issue No. 2367
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