Dead Men Left

Friday, November 19, 2004

Sudden outbreak of agreeing with Charles Clarke

Just what is going on? First Aaronovitch on Islam, and now the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke on education: I find myself suddenly on the same side as two larger-than-life public characters I'm more used to chasing off the stage (in one case) or heckling loudly (in the other). But there you go - the bearded ex-Communist bruiser turned sharp-suited jug-eared Cabinet minister for selling off schools speaks out against residual feudalism, and wins friends in all manner of places. (Very temporary friends, I expect, as what Clarke plans for education more generally isn't funny.) But hey - at least we can all agree that Prince Charles, when suggesting that schools encourage pupils to get ideas above their station, is "old-fashioned and out of time". Anyone with even the remotest pretence to sit on the Left, at least.

Which would exclude - oh, you're ahead of me - this happy band of wannabe iconoclasts. Railing against the "kneejerk consensusmongers" who dominate politics to such an extent that, um, they've been completely unable to roll back the dreadful league table and testing regime this government pushes in schools, Marcus of Harry's Place approvingly quotes another rallying to the Prince's tattered flag:

The PC conspiracy to abolish school league tables, from football scores to exam results, is all about pretending there are no winners or losers; that anyone can win just by asking. And that falsehood - which Charles Windsor was pointing out in his own inimitable, wonky style - is the cruel fantasy the modern PC elite are using to hoodwink our young folk.

Ah, the all-powerful PC conspiracy. What next? The "cosmopolitan elite", perhaps? "Guardianistas" is this man's favourite tag for this insidious fifth column of tofu-munching muesli-knitters - perhaps Marcus could adopt it.

(By the by, the only other "Marcus" I can think of with such gloriously Georgian views is the pseudonymous author of an early nineteenth century pamphlet advocating infanticide as a means of population control. Sure, it's controversial, but, after all, "Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear".)