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Labour; the elite of hypocrisy

Top professions must be less elitist, warn ministers | Society | The Observer.

Once again the oaf Milburn is lecturing the professions on elitism. Once again, I tell him there were more state educated lawyers in firms like mine when I first entered the legal profession than now, 26 years later. Once again, I tell him that it's Labour's fault. Labour introduced and has consistently championed non-selective education. Labour, for its own ideological reasons, destroyed the bottom rungs of the best educational ladder of social mobility this country ever knew. Labour corrupted the once-glorious profession of teaching into a dispirited, unionised rabble of second-class social workers, wasting their precious time on political indoctrination and bureaucracy.

Don't you dare tell us to lower our standards to accommodate yours. Don't you dare ask academic institutions to make allowance for the "contextual information" that you have trashed the educational opportunities of the majority of our young people. We have businesses to run and clients to satisfy. We do not exist to cover up your failings. Instead, why don't you act yourself on the "contextual information" that your apparatchiks in the Colleges of Education are training teachers to believe that achievement = elitism and that ambition is a social disease?

Fix state education. Fix it now or get out of the schools business entirely and let someone else do it. And until you have fixed it, shut up!


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Jeremy Jacobs

Half the problem Tom is the fact that Education Secretaries have walked all over the teaching profession. Having 8 trade unions doesn't help.


let me begin by saying how amused I am that anyone would take the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy quite so far as to say "It was better under Thatcher" + "It's worse now" = "It's all Thatcher's fault."

1) I'm saying I don't agree it is worse now, and you haven't cited any *actual evidence*, as opposed to anecdotes, that things are worse now. Your observation of "declining standards" in your industry could be because since graduating *you* have developed and matured, and those you interview for junior positions now have not yet had that opportunity. Or maybe your bosses saw something in you that you can't see in contemporary graduates?

2) When I said "I could make an argument" I meant it, and was in fact alluding to your similarly fallacious reasoning that any problems that do exist (inasmuch as there are) are necessarily the fault of the current administration.

3) Your point 2 is actually quite a good one. Which might have something to do with the fact that streaming *already* takes place in schools. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

4) The problem with your points 4 and 5 is that they both conflict with your stated aim in 1 - that of mirroring a French/German/Russian "elitist" approach.

Your point 4 conflicts because "diversity of thought" is the exact opposite of elitism. Elitism implies there is a widely recognised standard of what constitutes an elite, diversity of thought implies otherwise.

And if a school *is* elitist then your point 5 becomes a problem. No decent parent would accept potentially lower standards of teaching for their kids if they can help it (especially if their kids are thick), so having parents "judge" schools if those schools are determined to be elitist might be a problem.

Note that French education is characterised by huge amounts of centralisation, Taylorisation, and standardisation. It may be "elitist" but it hardly encourages "diversity of thought" in education policy.


...aaand Tom J.. Your maths might be up to some basic subtraction but your logic and rhetoric are maybe not so sharp.

Absolutely - What Diogenes said.

Tom said "first entered the legal profession than now, 26 years later".

That basically means Tom thinks things were better then (1984 ish) than now. You don't argue he is not right, just want to blame Maggie Thatcher.

Now I get that she is a hate figure for you... and Yes Maggie was in power back then...

But It does not follow that any change since then is because of her. She was in power till 1990 I think. After that it was John Major, I don't see you getting all hot under the collar about him.

Labour came to power in 1997, They were elected with an overwhealming mandate. They have had 13 years to fix anything they figured needed fixing. To make things better. They had overwhelming parliamentary majorities so no one could stop them.

They take away our liberties. They go to war. If you even imagine they didn't damage the education system or the NHS then I am just plain sorry for you. And all that is only a tiny part of just how badly they have messed up and betrayed people.

All they did was prove the state is not competent and they are not fit.


Well I can't find anything to argue with in your post at all.


The great majority are good kids who want to learn. That's the tragedy. I have a godson who begged his teacher to be locked into a store cupboard to study quietly, rather than continue to waste his time in the uproar of her class. Most kids are far from "underclass", but the underclass dictates the agenda in the schools.

As for getting the state out of education altogether, I couldn't agree more. But I fear there's no democratic appetite for it, yet.

Good luck with your new business venture!


Mr Paine,

I feel you should have added Mr Bodman's point to your action list (and perhaps then deleting every other one!) - get the state out of education altogether.

The more I see, the less I believe that there is any role for the state in the provision of education.

And you are right to be so passionate about this. I am now trying to recruit for a new business venture (yes, I am mad to be contemplating such an idea in this broken country) and almost without exception the better applicants, solely on the basis of their ability to express themselves in English, are from Eastern Europe or the Antipodes. To even have the idea to impose this ill-educated underclass on the professions is laughable.


Thanks for your comment. Glossing lightly over the sustained sneer (and having fixed your broken links so I could read them) let me begin by saying how amused I am that anyone would take the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy quite so far as to say, "It was better under Thatcher" + "It's worse now" = "It's all Thatcher's fault." Even by the standards of Britain's conventional thinkers, that's quite a corker. Perhaps it has simply become a habit to blame her? So much so that you are proud of yourself when you only make the argument to say you are not making it?

Did I defend Thatcher? Did I say I was a Conservative? How did this sad binary view of the world become so entrenched in British politics? Mrs Thatcher's life work was wasted and I am sorry she lived to see it. I hope she is not quite compos mentis enough to understand. We are back to a massively unproductive public sector dominating the economy (actually less productive than it was in 1978, since it actually made some - poor quality - manufactured goods then and makes little but trouble and cost now). That's partly because she failed to understand the importance of educational reform. There was little point in breaking the closed shop in manufacturing and exposing the dark nooks of the economy to competition, without breaking the Marxist grip of the educationalists.

So am I impressed by the text you cite? Not as much as by:

(1) My personal experience as an unwilling pioneer of comprehensive education.

(2) My wife's experience teaching in comprehensive schools (she says, with feeling, that she would clean lavatories before she would work in such hell holes again)

(3) 26 years of recruitment experience - watching standards steadily decline; young people arriving for their first day on the job with their heads full of unquestioned ideology and a capacity for independent thought only marginally more impressive than their ability to express themselves clearly.

(4) 17 years of comparing the idiocies at home with the rigours of education in post-Soviet countries, where maximal academic achievement (dependent on aptitude, of course) is a priority and a matter of family pride.

26 years ago, I was part of a group of trainee lawyers; all state educated and all working for privately-educated bosses. Today, I am part of a group of largely state-educated bosses disproportionately hiring (to my bitter personal disappointment) from the privately-educated. Not that I will discriminate against them, you understand. Quality comes first. I am just sickened by the knowledge that kids such as I once was no longer have a fair chance.

If I am not allowed to learn from my own life, without being accused of being a Yorkshireman (a snooty regional sneer from such a right-on commenter, I thought) then to hell with it.

Specific elements to be repaired, you ask?

1. Close all teacher training colleges and recruit again - from overseas if necessary. Just like Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers. It shouldn't be hard. After all the Soviet Bloc never succumbed to Labour's daft theories on education. There are plenty of rigorous Polish, Russian, Czech and Hungarian professors of education. Not to mention the French and Germans, who have also retained a two or three school selective system and a thoroughly elitist approach. Without a purge of the Marxists in control of educational doctrine, there is no hope. Margaret bribed the steel-workers into taking redundancy. Maybe Dave can bribe these comrades into an early retirement; preferably to Cuba, or the Taliban controlled bits of Afghanistan.

2. There's no need to restore Grammar Schools as such. We simply need to introduce rigorous streaming (with plenty of opportunities to be promoted/demoted between streams) on a subject by subject basis. This would be better than the Grammar Schools because, just sometimes, there's a child who is hopeless at everything except, say, Geography - and such a student can at least have the chance to be in the top stream at that.

3. We need to remove all ideological content from state schools, secularising them thoroughly. Moral guidance, religion, politics, these are all matters for family and community and have nothing to do with the state. The only contribution of schools to social education should be to send home any child who falls short of minimum standards of behaviour, particularly in any way tending to the disruption of the education of others. Better that they get no education, than that they prevent dozens from getting it. If their parents object, let them teach them to behave.

4. We need to acknowledge that diversity of thought is a good thing and empower local schools to set their own curriculum. No more regular announcements from Ministers about how children are to be taught x, y or z. How school get to the standards set by examination boards should be a matter for their management team.

5. Judging whether schools have reached a good standard should be a matter for their customers; the parents. One advantage of retaining a single-campus venue for all streams is that even quite rural areas can then offer two or three schools to choose from.

Any other ideas, dear readers?


Firstly your links don't work, they are in fact a comprehensive failure.

Secondly Thatcher didn't close grammar schools Labour controlled local authorities did. My local authority was never Labour controlled, so my grammar school was never threatened. You could argue that Thatcher failed to protect the selective status of schools but that is not what you did.

Blaming Thatcher for a situation that was better under Thatcher than it is now, after 13 years of Labour government, is desperate and not a little confused.

As to the effectiveness of grammar schools. Purely anecdotally, in my year, my school sent all but one child to university and 20% to Oxbridge. If such a school does not add value then it is a mystery why Harman/Dromey, Benn, Blair and de Gruchy took the trouble to send their offspring for the entrance exam.

Tom J

Labour, for its own ideological reasons, destroyed the bottom rungs of the best educational ladder of social mobility this country ever knew.

Do you have any new evidence that this is true, though? I mean, beyond your obvious ideological predilections for believing it be so?

In this paper by Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessman ( in which selective systems are compared with nonselective on a global basis, it is claimed that:

...early tracking increases educational inequality. While less clear, there is also a tendency for early tracking to reduce mean performance. Therefore, there does not appear to be any equity-efficiency trade-off.

And even if you are right and grammar schools are the dog's b*llocks then it is rather strange to claim that this is Labour's fault, as it was Margaret Thatcher who closed the largest number of grammar schools (

Also, this is weird:

when I first entered the legal profession than now, 26 years later

Let me see if my comprehensive math-em-at-ical educayshun can aid me in answering the question: "who was in power 26 years ago?"

Lessee. That would be 2010 minus 26 equals *1984*! And who was PM in 1984? Um. Let me think.

Oh yeh.

*Margaret Thatcher*.

I could make an argument, therefore, that the Baroness is responsible for all the problems[1] of the British educational system at the moment, but that would be childish. Instead I'll ask which specific elements of the British education system you wish to be repaired? (assuming you accept my point that the evidence that grammar schools aided social mobility is less than persuasive).

[1]: Which you haven't actually specified, beyond citing a spurious [yorkshire_acc]"back in t'day"[/yorkshire_acc] anecdote.

Dick Puddlecote


Labour: lowering standards since 1929


It's not so much their destruction of the middle class and they hope, the capitalist society but they must needs lecture. One is almost tempted to support capital punishment for high treason of their pernicious kind.

Kevyn Bodman

You seem to be rather angry in this post,justifiably so I think.

But you are asking the impossible,there is no way to fix state education and offering the choice is just delaying the only step that will work, the step that must be taken As.Soon.As.Possible.

Get the state out of education altogether.

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