When Tony Blair said “Education, education, education” we all knew it was the beginning of the end. What we didn’t know was that the former Conservative and Unionist Party would turn up to finish the job. Cameron even proclaimed himself the ‘heir to Blair’ without any apparent irony. Then the insipid, chubby-cheeked PR mediocrity set about recruiting the meek and mild, the liberal and wet and he held hands with Nick bloody Clegg.
And so the rot set in, as surely as if the party rules had been written on biodegradable paper and kept in a damp and mouldy cellar. Decades of child-centred education-education-education, putting feelings before achievement and prioritising the popular over the useful has brought us to where we are. Marketing twonks use dishonest phrases like ‘plant-based’, as if the hoi polloi have no grasp of vegetarianism. Jeremy Hunt says he will ‘halve inflation’, apparently believing that people will think that means prices going down rather than increasing a little bit less quickly. Sadly, he’s probably right.
Listening to The Moral Maze last Wednesday, discussing maturity as a moral issue, one of the witnesses was an almost perfect example of Aristotle’s depiction of the young: “[they] have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things - and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning - all their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything - they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.”
This modern-day cult of the child is the result, at least partly, of increasingly dire education, leading to under-developed adults possessing warped thinking, short-termism, tunnel vision and an utter inability to connect in any meaningful way with people who actually work. Too busy scratching a living we haven’t the luxury of new-age ideological wishful thinking and have to get by on the stuffy but solid learning we were exposed to, over fifty years ago. But we are dying out; the literate and numerate generations are retiring from the battlefield to be replaced by the schooled but ignorant slaves to woke and all it portends.
Education should ridicule the influencer generation, point out the shallowness and fleeting life of celebrity, shine a brief light on the broken careers and miserable lives of those whose star ascends for a fleeting time before fading. Celebrity, of itself, has no value, and respect must be earned. We need rigour in the hard but essential subjects and should bring back competition, glory in achievement, and most of all, revel in inequality – to the winner the spoils – all need not - must not - win prizes.
Sit them in rows, work them hard, and if they don’t perform back class them, send them down a stream, find out what they CAN achieve. But for pity’s sake return us to a world where adults can read, write, understand numbers and statistics and make informed decisions about their lives. No matter where the future leads us we will always ned technicians, tradespeople, and simple labour; the replacement robots aren’t coming any time soon. You do not need a pretend degree to be a plumber, or a nurse. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
And as for the Tories? They died three decades ago and it is about time they recognised it. An actual Conservative Party would have recognised the direction of travel and resisted it. Instead, they aped the New Labour experiment and ended up being indistinguishable from all the other pigs at the Westminster trough. Simple venal corruption is one thing – it is honest dishonesty, at least – but the current crop of members resemble the outcome of Blair’s indoctrination, indoctrination, indoctrination putsch far too closely for comfort. Short of a people’s pitchfork revolution I see no sign of change.