There’s no doubting the seriousness of the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal – the partially successful plot by a group of Muslim extremists to gain control of five state schools in Birmingham.
However, amid the understandable concern, it is worth noting that the scale and extent of the problem is limited, that it clearly hasn’t gone unnoticed, and that firm, if belated, action has now been taken.
Compare that to another plot to infiltrate our schools and expose our children to a deeply damaging and dangerous ideology. Starting in 1960s, leftwing extremists have waged a relentless campaign to spread their insane ideas throughout the state education system – establishing a powerful presence in hundreds if not thousands of schools, not to mention university departments, teacher training colleges, examination boards and the civil service.
It is a record that the Islamists of Birmingham could only dream of.
So, where’s the outrage? The Ofsted reports? The public inquiries? Where’s the justice for the ten of thousands of people left needlessly illiterate and innumerate as a result? Or for the millions more whose education was blighted by the tolerance of indiscipline and the encouragement of ignorance?
Robert Peal is the author of Progressively Worse – a history of how leftwing extremism became the orthodoxy in our schools. Writing on his goodbyemisterhunter blog, he argues that it is those who dare to resist who are portrayed as the fanatics:
“Of all the slings and arrows thrown at the book, the accusation that it is ‘right wing’ or ‘ideological’ is the most angering, but perhaps the most predictable. Reviews of Progressively Worse on blogs and amazon have accused the book of being a ‘politically motivated polemic’; ‘part of an ideological campaign’; a veil for the ‘privatisation’ of schools; a precursor to my ‘inevitable move into Tory politics’…”
Peal is not, in fact, a Tory, describing himself as a “centrist swing voter.” He goes on to note that not all of the politicians who resisted the ‘progressive’ takeover were on the right either:
“Whilst researching Progressively Worse, I gained a great admiration for two Labour party politicians from the 1970s: the Prime Minister Jim Callaghan and his Policy Director Bernard Donoughue. Both were Old Labour figures from modest working class backgrounds, who lamented the spread of progressive education during the 1970s. They saw that it was stripping many of the virtues of the education they received during the 1920s and 1930s from British schools.”
Meanwhile, there’s been a long history of right-wingers blowing every opportunity they had to stop the left’s “long march through the institutions”:
“…between 1981 and 1986, the most zealous neo-liberal thinker of the Thatcher years – Sir Keith Joseph – reigned as education secretary. Joseph’s attempt to introduce a vouchers system to British education was an ideological drive based upon the mistaken idea that market forces could cure Britain’s educational ills. His time in office was an embarrassing failure, and having become aware of Keith Joseph’s struggles, I would oppose anyone who believes that Britain’s schools can be improved simply through market based reforms such as a vouchers system.”
The reason why Michael Gove has had more success in turning the tide than all of his Tory predecessors put together – including Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher – is that he hasn’t been afraid to use the power of the state to do the right thing.
We sometimes labour under the misapprehension that the state ‘belongs’ to the left and that the only hope for the right is to make the state smaller. But the state actually belongs to the people and it is the people who elect the government of the day. It is therefore incumbent on Conservative-led governments to drive all forms of extremism out of every one of our public institutions.