BORIS Johnson stands accused of inciting verbal violence against MPs with his language in the chamber of the House of Commons. Opposition MPs are going to absurd lengths to pin the murder of Jo Cox on him for some reason. It is curious that they do not see Jeremy Corbyn’s affinity for the murderers of MPs Ian Gow and Anthony Berry in the same light, not to mention the crippling of Margaret Tebbit. But this might be because the PM’s accusers are socialists.
And as socialists, they should have a greater understanding of exactly why they are receiving online abuse and threats. And it has nothing to do with either Brexit or Boris Johnson.
Readers familiar with my previous articles will know that I have referred from time to time to my secondary education in Dagenham and not in the most glowing terms. In fact the opposite. What has been of interest to me is how many of the readers have shared negative experiences of state secondary education of their own in the comments section.
The primary catchment area of my school was an enclave of Dagenham that differed from the remainder in returning councillors not even from the Conservative Party, but from the ratepayers’ association. Dagenham was host to Europe’s largest council estate, but that was literally on the other side of the tracks. North of this enclave was a new council estate, separated by a fearsome arterial road crossable only by two pedestrian subways. This estate also had its own school. At some point, the local authority’s education inspectors must have concluded that the low standards of this school were even too low by their lax standards. So it was merged with my school at the same time as I started.
Encountering the pupils from this school was a culture shock for me. Discipline in my junior school was generally good, with minimal classroom disruption. Even though I was in the grammar stream, as were some of the pupils from the other junior school, the contact I had with a definable set of pupils who came exclusively from the other school outside of my normal lessons was almost entirely negative. What was worse was the passive attitude of the teaching staff to the thuggish behaviour. It created an atmosphere of hopeless struggle where there should have been a culture of academic excellence. Worse still, it validated the yobbish culture of thuggery that drove some of the more vulnerable female teachers to tears.
It is not unreasonable to believe that this culture of thuggery and the helpless response to it was more or less uniform across the country in what Alistair Campbell described as ‘Bog-Standard Comprehensives’. Indeed it persists to this day in academies captured by Left-wing staff. My son’s Spanish lessons were being repeatedly disrupted by two pupils, who drove the poor female teacher to threaten to quit the school or teaching, or both. When I wrote to the head teacher to tell him what was going on, and also to point out that their own literature allowed for pupils not to attend lessons for which it was demonstrably not academically appropriate, I was rebuffed. It was clear that the school was placing the interests of the disruptive pupils above those of the teacher and the pupils who were willing to be taught. There were other such incidents of ‘daylight yobbery’ that made me pull my son out of the school.
Education should be character-forming, rather than character-moulding, but it should also act as a corrective to unruly behaviour. The Conservatives are set on increasing classroom discipline as a way to improve the quality of education, and to show to aggressive yobs the error of their ways or to stop them from disrupting learning. This is opposed at every single step by the education establishment and the Labour Party. When an academy whose discipline policy was reported to be one of the strictest reported major exam success, Angela Rayner was silent. But she was all guns blazing when the government suggested that increased classroom discipline was part of its education policy.
And this is where I return to the start of my article. There has been a technological revolution in the last quarter century with the arrival and growth of the internet. The first domestic users were people who had computer expertise and could afford the relatively complex and expensive equipment. Over time the user-friendliness of the equipment has increased and prices have dropped. In the last decade or so there has been the consumerisation of IT, where the barrier between computing and consumer devices, such as mobile phones and video recorders, has disappeared. But as access to information technology has increased, so the final wave of user take-up has occurred: the ignorant yobs and thugs.
It does seem, however, that these female Labour MPs who complain about the online abuse and threats have never seen the inside of a state comprehensive school. What did they think would happen to all the thugs whose behaviour is not modified by their educational experiences? Labour politicians at all levels seek to reduce or eliminate the number of exclusions schools make, meaning that the avoidably put-upon teachers and the normal, well-behaved children they try to teach both have to contend with permanently blighted classrooms. What do they think happens to these thugs after they leave school? Do Labour politicians seriously believe they suddenly become socialised productive model citizens? Newsflash: they don’t. And now they all have smartphones with social media apps that even a complete moron can operate. So they hurl abuse over the internet as they used to mindlessly fling it in the corridors and classrooms.
I have less than zero sympathy for these hapless socialist MPs. Serves them right. They have reaped what they have sown. They are the victims of their party’s own education policies. They are just too dim or ideologically blinkered to realise this. I look forward to a Labour MP acknowledging that their opposition to school discipline has a consequence. I will not, however, be holding my breath.