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Monday, September 26, 2005

How to burn in hell, part 3

This is from the website of the Independent Working Class Association ( If, to quote Orwell, "hope lies with the proles", the IWCA are one of the few bodies left keeping that hope alive in England. This is a good a comment on the Reverend Blair's plans to give the god botherers a field day as any in recent weeks.

Integration or disintegration , 10 August 2005

The chair of the Commons education select committee, Labour M.P. Barry Sheerman, has attacked his own government's drive to create more faith schools and city academies, according to a report in The Observer.
Sheerman is quoted as saying that the government runs the risk of creating "divided, ghettoised communities" adding, "we have to be very careful of this enthusiasm that some in the Department for Education have for faith schools… and we have got to be very careful about the growth of very religious minorities getting a hold on academies."

The government's apparent devotion to faith schools has been a concern of genuine anti-racists for some time now, but in the wake of the horrific bombings in London and the wider acknowledgement in society of a failure of “multi-culturalist” theory and practice, it may seem something of a surprise that New Labour should remain so wedded to the idea of creating schools which have the potential to “divide and ghettoise”.

But perhaps not so much of a shock really, when you consider Labour's (not forgetting the role of the liberal left for a moment) track record in supporting ideologically-driven multiculturalist strategies since the early 1980's.

When taken literally, as it should be, 'promoting diversity' is all about setting out to consciously deepen each and every existing division be they racial, cultural, or religious, and where none exists, inventing them. When over time this strategy results in weakening working class communities, by pitting one against the other, who can be surprised?

Thus Blair's support for religious minorities, many of whose reactionary beliefs actively prevent social integration, is, if nothing else, consistent.

Since coming to power in 1997 Labour, under his leadership, has been an avid supporter of faith schools, and has stepped up the pace of change more recently, even in the face of mounting concern from its own MPs.

An article from 2004 on the BBC News website states:
“A report by a committee of MPs, prompted by race riots in the north of England in 2001, said giving parents more choice about their children's school had led to the development of racially segregated schools in some cities. It said the growth of faith schools could worsen the divide between racial groups, with children being sent to schools with the same racial background because of cultural "ignorance and fear".

Pause for thought? Not a bit of it. Less than a week after the failed bombings of July 21st 2005, Tony Blair was leaping to the defence of faith schools, saying “it was "perfectly consistent" in a multi-racial, multi-religious society for people to want their children educated in their own faith” (source: BBC news website).

Meanwhile, a relatively new opportunity has arisen for faith groups to reach a young, captive audience: City Academies.

As reported on here and elsewhere, Labour's flagship education scheme allows private financiers to “sponsor” new schools to the tune of £2 million, allowing them control of ethos, intake and curriculum.

As the Observer article points out “Originally blue chip businesses were expected to back them, but in fact over 40 per cent of the sponsors for the Academies due to open over the next two years are either faith-based charities, Church of England figures or well-known evangelicals”.

As if it wasn't bad enough getting privatised education through the front door we have faith schools by the back door as the working alternative.

For the reasons outlined the IWCA is solidly opposed to the growth in faith schools and the state funding of schools that are designed to divide working class communities along racial or religious lines.

So, while some on what still passes itself off as progressive left embrace whichever religious groups they can to win votes, we believe that the best and only way to foster social cohesion in working class communities, and in wider society, is to educate children of whatever religious background (or none) together, not separately.

Such a measure will not be a remedy for everything that has gone wrong but it would at least represent a recognition that the situation cannot be left to fester, and active steps must be taken to prevent things getting worse. For if it wasn't entirely obvious hitherto there is indeed an alternative to integration. Disintegration.


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