Thursday, November 11, 2010

Class and student protests

I couldn't join the protest yesterday, I was sleeping off a 12 hour waking night shift in a care home . I was paid just over £7 an hour, yet I have a degree ,a masters and am a qualified social worker.

I am the only one in my family to have got a degree. I think I am pretty much the only one not to have left school at 16. I don't now have any family, certainly not a nice middle class one who could bail me out when I lost my nice well paid job this year.

I'm still not really sure how I did end up doing a degree, I certainly didn't have any roles models to follow. I sort of just kept going and my mother encouraged me as she saw it as the escape route from the council estate and poverty. It would have been a much easier option for her to have got me to get a job .

She had worked hard all her life, as had her mother , but two ill husbands meant money was not plentiful . One image that has always stuck with me was her wrapped in a duvet with a hot water bottle, to keep the heating bill down.

So I worked hard . I escaped . I looked after my mum, bought her stuff, took her abroad for holidays. The first time she left the country was at 60.

So why am I going on about this ?

Well I did work hard and pulled myself out of the gutter. There were even more obstacles than poverty but I'll leave those for another time, but the point is however far I came, I never really became middle class. Why not, I mean I bought a flat, got educated etc etc. Yep, but what I am learning now the hard way is that it slips away much easier when its not yours by birth . I never felt I fitted in and didn't want to anyway.

Many of the students today feel cheated , we older ones have it all. But we don't . Its not about age, but class. I didn't inherit when my parents died, I could never fall back on my mother to bail me out . I didn't think, oh well when I'm older I'll pay off my mortgage with my inheritance or mummy can give me a deposit for my flat . Instead I helped her out , made her life more comfortable . She gave up a lot to encourage me to study , I owed her that .

I feel pissed off that I was unemployed back in the 80s and am again now.

I do feel angry that students face fees and debt, that they won't have the jobs they perhaps expected they would. But lets also remember that some younger people will be hit harder than others . Some will be lucky to get a decent basic education and getting to university is as likely as getting to the moon.

I'd lay bets that my dads family, who I have not seen for nearly 20 years (long story), are still doing factory work , probably getting asbos and stuck on a crap estate .
I do hope the students remember them, their expectations have not been dashed, they had those beaten out of them long ago.

I hope that further action will be with workers , with those relying on public services, the unemployed and the left does not put all its hope in students . I have heard mutterings that some sections of the student protest were not wanting to broaden out the demands to no cuts AT ALL. We need unity, not cuts or fees for education, but no cuts also for public services.

The young are getting fucked over by this Government , but lets not get caught up by age . Some young people will be hit harder , some older people will be hit harder. The poor more than others .

Also, remember that losing your job when older is pretty crap as well. What are my expectations now, fuck knows .At 46 I am now back at square one . I am doing temp work for crap wages , I am facing potentially having to sell my flat . I don't have family money to fall back on. I was homeless as a kid, my flat is my security .

I do understand , and support, the students and their anger at an uncertain future . But lets make this a fight against all cuts, and please remember that.

Finally, what inspired this post was reading this post by Laurie on yesterday's demo:

This is about a political settlement that has broken its promises not once but repeatedly, and proven that it exists to represent the best interests of the business community, rather than to be accountable to the people. The students I speak to are not just angry about fees, although the Liberal Democrats' U-turn on that issue is manifestly an occasion of indignation: quite simply, they feel betrayed. They feel that their futures have been sold in order to pay for the financial failings of the rich, and they are correct in their suspicions. One tiny girl in animal-print leggings carries a sign that reads: "I've always wanted to be a bin man."

Two things. It is not just about making sure those who get to university get the nice well paid jobs they expect , its about making life better for ALL, not just those with degrees. They may feel betrayed, well many many people have felt like that for a long time and we need to listen to them and include them.

Plus what really pissed me off, the 'tiny girl in animal-print leggings.' Somehow I doubt she knows any bin men and her sign is pretty elitist and insulting . Sorry, poor thing, mummy and daddy I'm sure never brought her up to be a bin men. I wonder if there were no fees etc, would she actually ever give a damn about those who are bin men, who also face cuts in their work ? Or would she just walk on by to her life with fulfilled expectations ?

This should not be about making sure some young people have bright futures and ignore the 'bin men' of this world.