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Play a part in improving local children’s literacy

DEAR SIR, As we approach the 50th

a range of causes that were right-on but never right wing, the long march to Parliament did not inculcate in any of the generation of Labour politicians who took part in them an idea that policies need to join together to make sense in government. What you ended up with was a strain of thought that was both anti-establishment but also authoritarian. Too often during the 13 years of

Labour Government – especially under Tony Blair – there was a sense that he was content to fiddle at the edges to assuage single issue constituencies of voters rather than make the sort of structural changes that the country needed to connect citizens with representative democracy. When Draenog referred above to

the BBC, this is the type of thing he had in mind. The generation of news managers and journalists at the BBC were prepared to buy into New Labour as a brand because it reflected their own single issue outlooks and metropolitan

concerns. Labour became less the party of the citizen than the party of the city. The legacy of that thought pattern continues to inform and distort the way the BBC and other television news media report on Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy Corbyn gives every sign of

being uninterested in the thoughts of eight white people in a room sipping white wine as a forum for policy production. Perhaps he is right to listen to the members of the party he leads and then seek to align those ideas with the views of the voting public by a process of triangulation. Jeremy Corbyn does not lead a

party for which Draenog would cast his own vote, but that does not mean that he does not see some merit in seeking to establish precisely why it is now over ten years since Labour won a General Election and managed to lose the confidence and votes of those it should be able to rely upon in their hundreds of thousands. It is surely too early to tell whether those efforts will be

successful. The way in which the BBC has revealed itself to be appallingly biased, partial and wilfully misleading in its reporting of Jeremy Corbyn over the last couple of weeks suggests that, as far as the London chattering classes are concerned, he should not be given the opportunity to try. Perhaps he is regarded as rather

‘non-U’ as the snobbish set of the 1930s would have put it, or perhaps it is the thought that there is more to politics than simpering at dinner parties about big issues is upsetting. Draenog had almost forgotten how

visceral and vital politics can be. The rush of adrenaline when ideologies clash is always fascinating, even for the spectator. Perhaps when the spoiled little London-based cabal of New Labour second-raters come down to it they will discover that they do not belong in the Labour Party. Draenog suggests that - on the

evidence of the past few months - there are those amongst them who never did.

celebration of International Literacy Day on Thursday (Sept 8), we are reminded of the importance of reading when it comes to ensuring children have the skills to reach their full potential. Yet, last year alone, over 63,000 children left primary school unable to read to the expected level. Low literacy skills can have a devastating impact on the lives of individuals and our communities, and are estimated to cost the UK economy £81 billion every year. At Beanstalk, we believe that

life is better when everyone can read well and express themselves with confidence. That’s why we recruit and train volunteer reading helpers to go into a local primary school and provide one-to-one support to a child struggling with their reading. Our volunteers change lives –

without them, thousands of children would still be struggling to read, and facing all the problems associated with low literacy levels. But we need more reading helpers if we’re to be able to offer this support to all those who need it. So, as the new school year starts, we’re recruiting a new class

of Beanstalk reading helpers. Visit or call 020 7729 4087 to find out more about our work, sign up as a reading helper if we work in your area or find out about the other ways in which you can support us.

Ginny Lunn

Chief Executive of Beanstalk, the literacy charity

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