There seems to be great rejoicing over the fact that the Tories have revealed themselves to be the friends of the home educators. Also, I observe, a good deal is being made of the petitions which have been presented in parliament and how well all this bodes. Well, yes........and no.
In the first place, it has to be borne in mind that Conservative MPs would cheerfully support the Waffen SS and their right to ethnically cleanse Poland, if they thought it would enable them to score a couple of points against the government. Any cause will do at the moment, provided that it makes the Tory party look as though they care about the rights of the ordinary person in this country. Home education fits the bill a treat. Fortunately, none of this makes a blind bit of difference to the actual outcome of the present administration's legislative programme. With the majority they currently enjoy, the Government could force anything through the House at the moment. The Conservatives know this, which is why they feel able to play these games and present themselves as the party of principle.
As far as the high level of support for opposition to the provisions of the new Children, Schools and Families Bill, how many people have actually signed these petitions so far? I know that the latest online petition has two or three thousand signatures, but what of the ones presented by the MPs? Does anybody know the total number there?
I do not wish to appear a Jeremiah, but I would not personally trust the Conservatives too much on this issue, when once they get into power. Being tough on standards of education is very popular these days and I would be very surprised if a similar proposal did not crop up under the next Tory administration. The point to remember with our democracy is that a lot of the time the laws that are brought in do actually reflect the concerns and wishes of the man in the street. Of course, the man in the street might be an idiot, but his vote does count and so governments like to pander to him whenever possible. I can remember many occasions when the opposition has denounced some government move as iniquitous, only to introduce an almost identical law as soon as the keys to ten Downing Street have changed hands. I suspect that this is what is likely to happen if the Conservatives get in before the Children, Schools and Families Bill has reached the Statute Book.