“The union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a union.”
The final notes of the daily Billy Bragg hymn echoed for a few moments around the assembly hall. The children, clad in their identical grey tracksuits, fell silent for a few moments as their Comrade Teacher slowly gathered up his sheet music from the piano.
He stood and surveyed the eager young faces staring up at him. Satisfied that he commanded their full attention, he strode over to the overhead projector, his pink frock and dreadlocks wafting behind him. He paused to replace the lyric sheet with a photograph of the benign eternal leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
“We want justice, you say how?,” he yelled, raising his right fist.
“End the siege on Gaza now!”, came the enthusiastic response from the assembled children.
“Vamos Corbyn!”, screamed the teacher.
“Vamos Corbyn!,” came the fevered cries from the assembled youngsters.
“Proceed directly to the parade ground, comrade children,” pronounced the teacher, prompting a mass shuffling of chairs.
The children filed silently out of a set of double doors at the end of the hall. On their way out, they passed a large, red, sun-faded Momentum flag.
Outside, they formed three orderly lines on a featureless tarmac expanse. The parade ground was surrounded by a thirteen foot breezeblock wall painted with murals depicting the holy trinity of British socialism – Owen Jones, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn.
A Comrade Observer eyed them idly from an elevated platform in the far corner, a pair of binoculars hanging from his neck. The children remained silent, their eyes unmoving as they stood stock still in their lines.
May Day, 2028, was to be a momentous day in the history of the Hugo Chavez Early Years Education Facility Number 168.
The Comrade Teacher, now clutching a clipboard, emerged from the double doors. He was now accompanied by a joyless-looking woman, clad in the same grey tracksuit as the children.
He stopped and took a moment to briefly survey the three lines. One was noticeably longer than the others.
“Comrade children,” he barked. “Today, the Hugo Chavez Early Years Education Facility Number 168 has a very special visitor.”
The children remained motionless.
“This,” he continued, gesturing to the woman beside him, “is Comrade Mx Gareth Kinnock-Straw. Ze is from Momentum Central Office. Ze has come to inspect our Education Facility.”
“Lets not waste time,” growled the woman, cracking her knuckles. “Which one is the non-binary line?”
The Comrade Teacher smiled. “The longest one, of course, Comrade Mx Kinnock-Straw.”
The inspector strode over to the non-binary line, a satisfied smirk playing across her face.
She strolled slowly down the line, nodding her head, approvingly. She began to excitedly mutter the word “excellent” under her breath as she passed little girls sporting crew cuts and little boys in pink tutus.
She paused and stared at a six-year-old boy. His hair had been braided into pigtails and his face was plastered with makeup.
“Why are you in this line, comrade boy?,” she snapped, suddenly.
“Comrade Mx, I am gender fluid. I am non-binary. I reject the oppressive heteronormative gender frameworks imposed upon me by the vanquished capitalist overlords. Vamos Corbyn!,” he replied, robotically.
“Splendid, splendid,” effused the inspector, stepping back from the line. “These children may return to their studies.”
“Non binaries,” yelped the Comrade Teacher. “Proceed directly to the Terry Eagleton Memorial Library. Take out your Woody Guthrie songbooks and memorise pages eight to ten.”
The non-binary children filed silently back through the double doors without so much as a glance at the classmates they were leaving behind on the parade ground.
“And what,” smarmed Kinnock-Straw, “are these children, if they are not yet non-binary?”
“This line,” began the Comrade Teacher, gesturing to a group of around fifty children to his left, “Are the obedient binaries. If they would only let go of their parents’ ignorant, outmoded notions of ‘male’ and ‘female’ then they would be perfect. They will become acceptable citizens, I am sure.”
Kinnock-Straw rubbed her chin and eyed the children malevolently. “We’ll see,” she muttered.
“The others, Mx Kinnock-Straw,” the Comrade Teacher continued, nervously, “are neoliberal fascists, Tories, Blairites and the offspring of Brexit voters. Lost causes. They are educated in a different classroom to the others.”
The inspector’s breath quickened as she gazed angrily at the remaining children. “All thirty five of them?”
The Comrade Teacher nodded, grimly.
“Let’s have a chat in your office, Comrade Teacher,” she hissed, under her breath. She stormed furiously towards the double doors.
“Binaries proceed directly to the Islamic Studies Suite,” stuttered the Comrade Teacher, hurrying along behind her. “Fascist Degenerates remain on the parade ground. You will be escorted to the holding pen by a Security Comrade in due course.”
He trudged through the threadbare assembly hall, through another door into the reception area and paused at the side-door which led to his office to take a few deep breaths.
He knocked tentatively and entered to find Kinnock-Straw sitting behind his desk. A portrait of the benign eternal leader, Jeremy Corbyn, gazed down from a golden frame on the wall behind her.
“Twelve years,” she spat at him. “Twelve years since we initiated the Corbyn Youth programme. Twelve years and you people are still sending fascist children on to our Socialist Finishing Schools.”
She thumped the desk. “Do you think it’s somebody else’s problem when gender specific toys turn up in the classrooms of our senior facilities? Do you think it’s somebody else’s problem when our Comrade Teachers are triggered by the sight of fascist children playing competitive games in their exercise yards?”
“No, Comrade Mx Kinnock-Straw. I’m trying to make improv…”
“Not good enough. Every child should leave this facility fully signed up to every aspect of the Momentum Curriculum,” she snarled. “This Early Years Education Facility is underperforming. It is a disgrace to Jeremy’s legacy. Did you know that the other two Facilities in this sector are one hundred per cent non-binary? Even the text books at the Honecker Early Years Education Facility are written and bound by transitioning comrades. You’re light years behind, Comrade Teacher. Light years.”
Kinnock-Straw took a deep breath and sat back, folding her arms.
“I’m afraid I can’t skirt over this when I report back to the Momentum Central Committee. It’s over, I’m afraid. You are no longer a teacher. You are barely still a Comrade.”
“But, but…I’ll try harder, Comrade Mx Kinnock-Straw. I’ll book myself in for transition to set a better example to the children. I’ll wear a niqab,” howled the Comrade Teacher, the colour draining from his face. “I’ll take them on a field trip to a gay nightclub and let them try poppers. Please, Comrade Mx Kinnock-Straw, please. Just give me one more chance.”
“It’s too late, Comrade Teacher. You have allowed this Education Facility to be poisoned by fascism. You must pay the price. Please leave the premises and report to the nearest Momentum Correction Facility. The Comrade Doctors will be expecting you.”
The Comrade Teacher bowed his head and trudged obediently out of the office with tears in his eyes. He had let Jeremy down. He had let Momentum down. He had let the children down.
“Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset
And pile all those history books, but don’t throw them away
They just might have some clues about what it really means
To be an Anglo hyphen Saxon in England dot co dot UK.”
The final notes of the daily Billy Bragg hymn echoed for a few moments around the assembly hall. The children, clad in their identical grey tracksuits, fell silent for a few moments.
A six foot four mixed race man, wearing a niqab, Che Guevara tee shirt, a miniskirt and fishnet stockings slowly closed the piano lid, rose and surveyed the eager young faces staring up at him.
“Comrade children,” he boomed. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Evelyn Abbott-Batmanghelidjh, your new Comrade Teacher.”
He paused for a few seconds to switch the lyric sheet on the overhead projector to a photograph of the benign eternal leader, Jeremy Corbyn. He steadied himself and raised his right fist.
“Don’t give in to racist fear!,” he yelled, with terrifying intensity.
“Muslims are welcome here,” bellowed the children in unison.
© DH 2016