Thursday, 1 October 2009

The BNP and teaching

Ed Balls has announced a review into the necessity of banning teachers from being members of the BNP. Put simply, he is suggesting that one lawful political party should limit the rights of another because it does not agree with it. I believe that it is already unlawful to be party political under the provisions of the 1988 Education Act and rightly so. After all, many of us who were educated in the 1970s and 1980s will surely confirm the fact that the image of the socialist teacher, wearing elbow patches and preaching left-wing views to the class, was not a product of the imagination. Indeed, good teachers should not impart political views and they should surely allow youngsters to develop the skills to make up their own minds. That being the case, if a teacher were to be found preaching party political propaganda, they could presumably be pursued under current laws and provisions.

I find it deeply unsettling, and an affront to democratic values, that an illiberal Ed Balls will seek to limit the rights of a legal political party merely on the basis of disagreement. We are supposed to be living in a free country respecting the suggestions of Voltaire who said. " I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Compare that with Chris Keates of the NASUWT who said, " All right-minded people understand that an agenda of hatred, bigotry and intolerance has no place in education."

So long as the intolerance and bigotry are not right-wing eh Chris?

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