Monday, December 19, 2005

Suspend logic; Prescott about

In my earlier post about the Education White Paper, I mentioned that Tony Blair was certain to face opposition from his party. The reactionary element of the Labour Party reared its ugly head yesterday in an interview given by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, in which he launched a philippic against the proposed reform, depicting the debate as class struggle.

Brevi praecidam; this is a man who typifies everything there is to be said about class envy. For example, during the debate to outlaw fox hunting, he made it clear that his support for the ban was nothing to do with 'animal welfare' (the convenient figleaf adorned by many of his colleagues), but more to do with punishing what he saw as a privileged minority.

Anyway, he has now gone public with his opposition to trust schools. Nothing wrong with that, but we should hear his reasons. He claims that this would lead to a two-tier system in education provision. Genuine concern, but would Mr Prescott rather all schools suffered under the dead hand of local government control, than that some were set free to breathe and blossom? In any case, Mr Blair's vision is for all schools to become trust schools in five years, so that would, in theory at least, put paid to the idea of a two-tier system.

Mr Prescott being who he is, sees the debate purely in terms of class. We have been told how he failed his 11-plus exams, and was therefore denied a place at grammar school and a bicycle by his father. His brother, who passed, went to grammar school, and received a bicycle. His girlfriend also passed; he sent her a letter at her new school, and she returned it to him, with all his grammatical errors highlighted. Such painful childhood memories can influence one's outlook. Despite this, Mr Prescott still obtained a university degree, and has now risen to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. Time to let go of the bitterness of many moons, methinks.

Mr Prescott argues that if you set up a school, and it becomes a good school, the 'great danger' is that many people will want to go there. How this can be termed a 'danger' is surely one of life's imponderables. Prescottian logic therefore dictates that the solution is to have uniform mediocrity.

Not content with that stunning display of gargantuan ignorance, he then went on to comment on the recent election of David Cameron as the Conservative Party leader. He was pleased with the election, he said, because Mr Cameron went to Eton, and this shows that the Conservative Party is now run by what he called 'The Eton Mafia'. He is happy about this, he says, because he always feels better fighting class. He feels that it brings 'the spirit back into the Labour Party'.

The foregoing paragraph alone should render further comment superfluous, but one more point: Prescott's comments have been welcomed by Angela Eagle, a Labour MP, who stated that he has only voiced what many in the Labour Party were thinking. I don't know whether to be relieved or alarmed by this. Relieved because at least such poisonous views are now out in the open, so we can better deal with them; or alarmed because the people espousing them are those to whom we have entrusted the running of the country, and the education of our children.
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