Thursday, January 03, 2008

The old Tory Party is alive and well

Don't believe all you read about the new green, liberal, decenteralised Conservative Party. The headbangers are still with us.

The evidence?

First, Nadine Dorries (known as "Mad Nad" by her many admirers) has written to Ofcom to complain about Catherine Tate's Christmas show. Her reasons?
It was offensive and violated the expression 'family viewing'.
On what is, whether you are religious or not, a day which is special to all, her own version of the Christmas special was astoundingly inappropriate.
This link comes via Iain Dale, who points out that the programme was transmitted at 10.30 p.m. and was preceded by a warning that the programme contained extreme language right from the start.

Surely the Tories believe that it is parents' duty to see that young children are in bed by then or do not watch such programmes? Or are they saying that there should be nothing screened that is unsuitable for children?

My own view is that we have seen quite enough of Catherine Tate already and that the addition of the words "Christmas Special" renders the best comedies instantly unfunny, but that is beside the point.

And there is a second example.

On 27 December the Daily Mail published an article under the headline: Smart school uniforms linked to academic success of UK's schools.

It reported that the Tories had published figures showing that successful secondary schools tend to have a traditional uniform policy. That is not a great surprise and I am old enough to believe that there may be a connection that cannot wholly be explained away.

But what is remarkable is what the story went on to say:

Mr Gove, the Shadow Schools Secretary, has called for all state schools to copy the ethos of the best.

A Tory government under David Cameron would encourage state schools to introduce the blazer as a key element of their dress code.

They would not be forced to do so, but Ofsted inspectors would mark schools which have blazers as the "gold standard".

The Tories would also monitor the price of blazers - often the most expensive item on the uniform shopping list - to make sure poorer parents were not excluded from dressing their children properly.

Not only do the Tories want every school to have a uniform, an incoming Conservative government would stop only just short of specifying the items of clothing that should make up that uniform.

And what will they do when they have monitored the price of blazers? Bring in subsidies or price controls? Nationalise Trutex?

When you add this to the Tory obsession with synthetic phonics, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Conservatives believe that the trouble with this Labour government is that it has not centralised education enough.

But then anyone who remembers the Thatcher years will know that the Conservatives are instinctive centralisers.


Anonymous said...

My only discomfort with this post, Jonathan, is a worrying concern that our own New Leader is showing alarming tendencies in a smiliar direction to Mad Nad and other "ban everything" exponents. His weird, and largely unnoticed, New Year message laid emphasis on giving British families back control of their lives apparently by banning television advertising from programmes intended for young children. In other words the parents aren't to have the bother of telling their kids what's what. The state will ban what parents object to on their behalf. Nanny state indeed! And this from someone who is supposed to be "Liberal from birth". I hope the underwhelming Mr Clegg brightens up his act in the New Year.

Tristan said...


Personally I don't like Catherine Tate, I think that Christmas Specials are often pretty dire too.
Guess what? I didn't watch it.

Unfortunately, as Robin points out, it seems the LibDems are subject to similar attitudes in other areas.

I can also imagine LibDem proposals on education which emanate from the centre in a similar way...

Joe Otten said...

So Gove and the Mail don't know the difference between correlation and causality. Yawn.

Actually I can imagine that the uniform has a use. Uniform policy infringements might be a good barometer of the level of disaffection with the school. Now if only that could feed into a strategy for addressing the disaffection rather than punishing it.

And perhaps we should all wear uniforms, so that the disaffected among us can be put on the ASBO-jail treadmill before we do anything wrong.

Anonymous said...

Tristan and his Tory mates are getting a bit boring. Nadine Dorries' fanatical evangelism and the uniform point are two sides of the same coin.