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Those unruly locals

Local politics is much nastier than its headlines often merit. Council plans to build new schools and provide affordable housing for key workers barely attract attention in the national media, while the local rags lap it up – only too happy to indulge councillors with school fete photo ops. Scratch beneath the surface, however, to reveal darker forces at work.

Take the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, an area where the wealthy are never more than a stone’s throw away from the poverty stricken. Its school, ten years ago, were a mess. Spiralling house prices prevented many people who wished to work in them from doing so. Concerned middle class parents sent their children to schools in neighbouring boroughs, or stumped up the cash for private education. And so it was that the right wing Tory council rode into town, on the back of popular unrest.

They set about their task with gusto, building key worker housing. Fine, if this accommodation did not come at the expense of council houses. The urban poor now need look elsewhere for shelter.

The council proposed closing down a school, merging others and building a new one. Fine, but for the fact that ten years ago is not now. Schools in the borough have been improving, dramatically by some measures. Standards in English and Maths have risen significantly.

The casual observer may question why improving schools are being threatened with closure and why it is the poor who are being asked to make way for the slightly better off. Cynics rightly claim that the Tories are engaged in a Westminster council-style political fix, whereby “our people” come into the borough and “their people” are forced to leave. Call it social engineering, if you will.

How terribly short-sighted this all seems. Surely by improving, the existing schools are doing the councillors' work for them?

What’s wrong with Obama

A sick and twisted system