Almost a year since the General Election that gave jobs to men and women most of whom had already been Ministers for 5 years it is disturbing to watch how so much of their decision making and posturing is adolescent in nature. The video of Nicky Morgan speaking in defiance in front of experienced teaching professionals who she should treat with respect and should have listened to is like watching a teenager speaking defiantly in front of her guardians or parents who know how the world works but have concluded their views are considered irrelevant by the person speaking. I don’t mean to suggest that the collective NASUWT response seemed wise and statesmen like but this is a strange situation. After all the person in a position to make decisions that will impact the rest of the room is the one person behaving like an adolescent, and after nearly 6 years of a Tory led Government, this is the first time many of these delegates have had the experience of a Government Minister having the guts to speak to them. The delegates were at the conference en masse which greatly increases the likelihood of a group reaction (remember Tony Blair and the WI!). Standing up in defiant mood Ms Morgan said “I want to be clear there will be no pulling back from that vision, there is no reverse gear when it comes to our education reforms,”
A day later the Prime Minister made a complete mess of his Easter address. Almost as though this was his first such attempt. Once again he spoke rather uncomfortably about values that he claims to understand and even to share, yet his actions and policies are so clearly counter to these values. As other commentators have pointed out his list of values are no more exclusive to Christianity, than he is in charge of storm Katie. He must know that this sort of statement just like his previous ones will not satisfy those who celebrate Easter as the pinnacle of their religious year and who want a focus on the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus and leaves those who don’t believe, bemused and frustrated at his foray into organised religion. Its as though he has no advice that he can take apart from the others in his gang who are willing to egg (sorry!) him on irrespective of what he chooses to do or say.
The rest of us are left with a dilemma. If we ignore these approaches sadly the issues won’t go away. If it is not Nicky and her crazy ideas about education, then we have Jeremy and his tin pot plans for the NHS and Amber and her foolish notions about the environment. However those who do stand up for their jobs and their beliefs on such themes get isolated and ridiculed by the gang leaders who claim to be the most popular in the class while the rest of society appears to be silenced, in part by the media voices. What is needed is for all of us to stand up and explain to Nicky that we don’t accept that forcing Schools to become Academies is the right thing to do, to Jeremy that actually a 7 day a week NHS is not something we need, apart from the emergency cover that protects us all and that whilst Amber may be right that paying a bit more for clean energy is not easy, that creating problems for our grandchildren is doubly irresponsible. And finally that if David wants to sound like he cares about Easter and its relevance to some of us, that he needs to dig a bit deeper than his circle of advisers who appear to give him the same advice every year and make him sound ridiculous on each occasion.