The response to Tristram Hunt this morning and the idea that he is promoting, that of an oath for teachers have not been hugely positive. Indeed had UKIP not just had a good week, the subject may well have come up on the Marr show this morning. From a quick check on the internet it is clear that the idea is not one of Tristram Hunts own making. The Chancellor of Brighton University, David Watson proposed the idea in 2007 in the context of higher education. The paper for this idea was recently deposited at the University of London which perhaps explains why Mr Hunt has announced it this weekend. However in Massachusetts teachers had to swear an oath as early as 1935 to teach in the Schools. Good ideas are worth spending time developing, gimmicks always tend to be a matter of surprise. If the Labour Party were serious about introducing an oath for teachers, they have had 5 years to explore the idea with the teachers themselves, perhaps building on the work of Dr Watson and taking the people who are affected with them.
One of those reacting to the idea this morning on twitter was Fraser Nelson who pointed out that an oath for MPs and Politicians would be a great deal more popular than an oath for teachers. Its been my experience that most people who are paid from the public purse are acutely aware that they have responsibility to act in a fair manner, and many do have to sign a document confirming they adhere to the Nolan principles. That is the case for our MPs and yet far too many of them have proven that their grasp of fairness and transparency is sadly lacking to an extent that would shame most governments, let alone most public servants in the UK including our teachers.
Although Marr this morning did not focus on Tristram Hunt, he did allow Boris Johnson some air time to explain how close in his thinking he is to people such as Douglas Carswell. He was very direct in his argument that ‘beloved kippers’ should come over and join him and his colleagues. What he seemed to have overlooked is that people are rejecting his way of doing politics, not necessarily the things he believes.
The link between Boris and Tristram Hunt is clearly not their politics, not even their education, but despite this they both seem to assume that leadership is something that is exercised by people such as them on people such as us, where they impose their ideas and policies in a manner that will improve our lives. That may have been what was acceptable for people such as Tristram and Boris to think 30 years ago when Margaret Thatcher wanted to tell us about an enemy within in the hope that the rest of society would turn on a few militants in their midst. However if we are going to change the society of 2015 we need a new approach that depends on all of us beginning where we are and changing what is in our hands to change. If Tristram and Boris can demonstrate their own willingness to change their context, eradicating the dishonesty, prejudice and corruption in the Commons and at City Hall, then perhaps, just perhaps they will be listened to by you and I when it comes to the big issues, that are beyond individual change.