Thursday, 3 December 2009

Political Division Over Social Cohesion

A school in Slough became the centre of a political firestorm at PMQs last week as opposition leader David Cameron accused it of being a 'front' for a terrorist organisation and that money from a Government fund designed to combat violent extremism was being diverted to promoting terrorism.

The Conservative party leader launched a volley of attacks, followed up later by shadow education secretary Michael Gove, criticising the use of £113,000 of taxpayer money. They claimed that the head teacher of the Slough school had links to the Islamic Hizb-ut-Tahrir group (which campaigns for a single unified relgious state among Muslim people) and who had previously described western culture as "dangerous" and democracy as a "corrupt tradition".

Mr Cameron was later forced to apologise for getting his facts wrong when it emerged the money did not come from the 'Pathfinder' fund.

Nonetheless bloggers have passed judgement.

Jane Griffiths is clearly very angry that her former comrades in the Labour party have accepted the politicisation of the education system - particularly when the politics is not her own.

Steve Borthwick is equally forthright. He opposes faith schools on the principle that they are by nature divisive.

This lead to the somewhat unusual action of BBC Berkshire taking a formal stance in trying to explain the political contention in an attempt to defuse the explosive emotional atmosphere.

Interviewing a spokeperson for the Centre for Social Cohesion and a local member of the ACCORD group they highlighted how the episode does raise ongoing questions - particularly about the existence of 'faith schools' and the place of certain political groups in society.

Meanwhile South Today political correspondant Peter Henley explains that the storm was deliberately brewed in order to drive a wedge into public opinion and create a clear dividing line between Labour and Conservatives ahead of the next election.

He says the simple existence of controversy does give the indication that the government is not doing its' job properly.


Update: Urban Complexity quotes from Richard Bellamy's introduction to citizenship:
"Citizenship is a condition of civic equality... [which] not only secures equal rights to the enjoyment of the collective goods provided by the political association but also involves equal duties to promote and sustain then - including the good of democratic citizenship itself."

A powerful statement, indeed. It is all about education!

1 comment:

  1. what rubbish. I am angry and disgusted that the Labour Government is cosy with the racist far right, especially in education, where huge damage is being done - it's got nothing to do with my politics or anyone else's - and "politics" is a singular noun


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