Since, under the leadership of Theresa May, the Conservative party has been turned into the Labour party, we can see signs of class war and the politics of envy breaking out all over the place.
The party’s manifesto declares that at least 100 of the public schools must sponsor schools in the state system.
This is a proposal of such palpable unfairness that any manifesto committee with a shred of moral fibre would have thrown it out when it was first mooted.
Why should a public school, already providing good teaching, be made to support places where educational standards are abysmal? What next – will the quality butcher who serves first rate cuts of meat be obliged to support the junk food restaurant across the road where they sell only inedible kebabs, burgers and pizza?
We need to understand why parents, usually at great personal sacrifice, choose public schools for their children. It is because the state system is ineffably lousy. And it continues lousy despite the record amount of funding it receives from the taxpayer. The taxpayer is not getting value for money and governments of all hues must never be allowed to forget that almost 50% of pupils leave school after eleven years of compulsory and expensive state education unable to read, write and count efficiently.
From whence derives this notion that schooling in the basics of arithmetic and the English language requires massive funding? In Castleton County Primary School, Armley, Leeds by the railway line, the jail and the gas works, we children of poor working class families managed to imbibe the times tables, fractions and decimals and the rudiments of sentence construction with the aid of chalk, slates, the blackboard and repetition. Hundreds of thousands of children learned this way and very few left at the age of eleven functionally illiterate and innumerate.
Now nearly half of all pupils do not achieve by age sixteen what pupils in the 1950s had mastered by the time they were eleven.
Most of the public schools who are being asked – compelled – to offer sponsorship to the failed state sector are not themselves wealthy establishments.
Their long-enjoyed charitable status, which now a Conservative government is threatening to remove, is deserved because education is itself a good, an act of charity in the deepest sense.
Besides, the parents who pauperise themselves to obtain a good education for their children also continue to pay through their taxes to support that ineffably lousy state sector.
As a matter of fact, many public schools already assist the state sector significantly – through the loan of their sports fields and their willingness to offer state schools the services of their teachers of subjects particularly inadequately supplied there: for instance, music – I mean instrumental training in the western classical tradition, not pop, rap and the steel band.
In its persecution of the public schools, Mrs May’s new Red Tory party – well to the left of Tony Blair’s New Labour – has perpetrated an act of monstrous vindictiveness.
There are many words to describe May’s government – not all of them suitable for utterance in polite society – but “Conservative” is not one of them.