Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A very special Christmas present

As we come to the end of the 2012, we seem far from the end of the era of the denigration of professional people. Whether increasing transparency will make up for a shortfall in trust is something it's too early to make a judgement on.

Teaching is the most unionised of the professions in the UK, and the political assault on the teaching profession could, I'd argue, be seen as part of the overall attack on the unions from the 1980s onwards. Stephen Ball and Jane Kenway call the way that teachers and schools are talked about by politicians and the news media "the discourse of derision" [PDF].

More recently, that derision has been targeted at MPs, especially with the expenses scandal, the police (where to begin -  Hillsborough, Tomlinson, Mitchell?), journalists (Leveson etc) and bankers (from the crash to rate fixing to money laundering). GPs have been accused of garnering excessive pay under the NHS reforms and nurses have been thoroughly de-angelled. Nor has it been a good year for media executives (the BBC, News International), TV and radio stars, or even the Church of England which ends the year accused of risking a constitutional crisis.

I'm not saying that we were necessarily sensible to put so much trust in professional people over the years. The decline in trust of the police, for example, is hardly news for black Londoners, miners and others who have knows about the tampering of notebooks and other fixes for decades. In the 1990s, I worked in the east London school where Blair Peach had taught before his murder by the police in 1979.

For a long time, a small but important minority of teachers and other professionals have looked after themselves first, and rampantly abused the trust placed in them by people. I'm sure that's just as true for the only profession I'm aware of that's missing from my list - lawyers. Perhaps the number of QCs in government, parliament and other positions of power is still giving them cover?

In a depressing and foggy context, getting this card meant a great deal to me -  a very special, and quite unexpected, Christmas present.

In that spirit, I'd like to share my wishes for a more measured, kinder way of doing things in 2013.