As many home educators are now aware, I have been called to give evidence next week at the enquiry into the review of elective home education. Fairly predictably, a campaign is now well under way to discredit me by telling as many lies as possible. Since the people involved in this have no hesitation about using old posts of mine from a private mailing list, I see no reason at all not to name them and detail their actions. Step forward, Maire Stafford, who sent an email to the select committee yesterday stating that;
"He is now on both of the message boards he mentions under a false name despite being removed by the list owners, as he freely admits on his blog".
This is of course a lie. Some members of the list forward messages to me, this is quite a different thing from joining under a false name. I dare say that some will remember Maire Stafford's agony a few weeks ago when she thought I was going to quote from one of her emails. In a truly breathtaking display of display of hypocrisy and double standards, she has copied a huge chunk of this Blog in her email to the select committee. Astounding!
Next up is somebody called Debs on the home education forums. She says of me;
"The inclusion of Simon Webb is also of grave concern. He is in fact an EX home educator, not a current one, who now spends his time writing vitriolic, insulting and personal articles about home education (especially autonomous home education, which he appears to know very little about) on his blog and in various publications. He has assumed various guises to infiltrate home education email lists"
Two things strike one about this email to the select committee. The first is the repetition of the lie that I have infiltrated home education lists under false names. As I dare say everybody knows, I actually joined under my own name and personal email address and never made any secret of my views. The second thing is really quite funny. Home educators, particularly autonomous ones, often claim that the idea that education starts at five and ends promptly at sixteen is quite ludicrous and wholly artificial. I agree completely. Now however, many of them have apparently decided that in the case of home education, it should end in the June of the year that a child turns sixteen. This means of course that I am no longer educating my daughter and should not therefore be allowed to give evidence on home education. How ingenious is that? Another A* for hypocrisy, I think! A cunning idea, but unfortunately the select committee have a fairly detailed biography and know my daughter's age. But a good try, never the less. Just to be scrupulously fair, I have contacted the select committee and reminded them about this. They assure me that they will now amend their records and list me as a formerly home educating parent.
Wendy Crickard is keen to denounce me to a member of the select committee, Lynda Waltho MP. She wishes to use old posts of mine from a private list. Janet Ford duly obliged by providing her with these. Unfortunately for these two, Lynda Waltho will not actually be sitting on the committee that day, but ten out of ten for trying. Julie Garret wants to know if there is a good way to discredit witnesses in advance of the hearing. There are many more, but these examples give one the flavour of the affair.
What none of these individuals seem to realise for a moment is that they are busily engaged in subverting the democratic process. The whole point of a select committee is to examine the actions and intentions of the Executive. It is our Legislature at work, a most vital constitutional check against the Executive. This is not one branch of the government rubber stamping another government department's decisions. The contempt displayed by these people for the constitutional processes of democracy is astonishing. I hope that this is the last post that I shall have occasion to make on this subject and that I will now be able to get back to discussing the wider aspects of home education.