From book to letter: the Trojan Horse of Michael Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove is a neo-conservative and Zionist who shares the views of Samuel P Huntington that a ‘clash of civilisations’ along cultural and religious lines is threatening Britain. In 2006 he published Celsius 7/7 with a chapter entitled ‘The Trojan Horse’. Gove writes that, ‘if we believe in the superiority of our way of life’ then ‘we should be working to spread democracy around the world’. This was his motivation in voting for the bombing of Syria in the House of Commons. For Gove, ‘a sizeable minority’ of Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims hold ‘rejectionist Islamist views’ which he compares to Nazism in Germany. He describes fundamentalists as both violent and secretive as they smuggle their views into British society. The original Trojan Horse of the ancient war between Greeks and Trojans was left as a Greek gift inside the gates of Troy but was filled with soldiers who leapt out at night and destroyed the city. The most recent Trojan Horse plot was exposed by an anonymous letter, widely believed to be a fake, describing a supposed plot by Islamic fundamentalists to take over schools in Birmingham. Gove has used this letter to attack, not only the entire Muslim population of Britain, but also Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

Gove and May mis-remember the inconvenient truth

Traditionally members of parliament do not accuse each other of ‘lying’. The words used are that the ‘honourable’, or ‘right honourable’ lady or gentleman, ‘deviates from the truth’. A recent term imported from the US is ‘mis-remember’. Theresa May and Michael Gove engaged in a full blown row over who knew what about the ‘Islamist threat’ to Birmingham schools and who mis-remembered. Both sides used the full range of parliamentary tactics, lying, leaking, briefing and spinning for the media, parliament and the public, to defend their position and status. The threat of an ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ school takeover was explained to Gove in 2010 and he took no action, says May. This was a deadly affront to Gove, the warrior of ‘western values’, who accuses the Home Office of a failure to ‘drain the swamp’ by confronting extremism before it develops into terrorism.

Clash of careers

The real agenda behind the hostility between cabinet colleagues Gove and May is a fight to position themselves for succession as leader of the Conservative Party should David Cameron have to resign after an election defeat in 2015. Every blunder, like the Home Office passports delays, is fuel for this bitter struggle for prominence. When Gove accuses May of being soft on Islamic activists in Britain like Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, May responds by sponsoring the posters-on-vans campaign telling immigrants to go home. Migrant people, poor people and Muslims are collateral damage in this game of thrones.

Prevent – the theory and the strategy

As long ago as 2008, MI5, the state security organisation, rejected the idea of a ‘conveyor belt’ from religious practice to terrorist action among British Muslims. Nevertheless in 2011 the government introduced the Prevent Strategy which includes advising public sector workers, including teachers and medics, how to spot and report on individuals likely to be either propagating or vulnerable to ‘Islamic radicalisation’. For Gove, the Prevent Strategy is not enough. He laid out his manifesto for the Tory right and to win back the UKIP vote, saying that British values must be taught ‘positively’ in all British schools with moral clarity and there must be an end to cultural relativism.

The blow back of education reform

As FRFI has noted repeatedly, the intention of the parliamentary parties to dismantle the state education system at the bidding of the ruling class is having disastrous consequences for working class children. The academy and ‘free’ schools programme provides a conduit of public funds to private sponsors, ranging from education businesses to religious foundations. Vested interests rush in to fill the spaces left when local education authorities have their community schools taken away. State funding of ‘faith’ schools is one example of this dismemberment of the education system and the greatest beneficiary of all is the Church of England with over 2,000 schools.

However, the entire system is open to the possibility of takeover once the ideal of a state education system with equitable resourcing and fair standards throughout the nation is abandoned. In setting up thousands of autonomous schools and inviting sponsors and governing boards to dictate the curriculum, staffing, ethos and policy, accountable to no one except the Education Secretary, Gove has created a schooling system out of control. This is the inevitable downside of parental choice and ‘localism’ when there are large streams of government money involved and huge salaries and expenses to be claimed and shared out by a group of committed people.

Ofsted clashes with itself

All British schools have a requirement to be inspected by Ofsted. This includes the whole range, whether state or private, faith, ‘free’, academy, maintained or community school. As head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshire has to explain why and how Park View Academy in Birmingham, with an intake of 98% Muslim students, was put into ‘special measures’ following the Trojan Horse letter, when there had been no change in staff, curriculum or pupils since it was graded ‘outstanding’ two years ago. Ofsted claims ‘commitment to transparency’ but its role as a political tool of the government becomes ever clearer. Fundamentalist Christian schools teaching ‘creationism’, Steiner schools that do not teach writing skills before the ‘second dentition’ (adult teeth), all these and many other cult schools have been rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted over the years. But under instruction directly from Gove, in a deliberate vendetta against the Muslim population, 21 Birmingham schools were inspected with no notice. Five of the six schools found to be ‘inadequate’ and not offering a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ are academies controlled directly by Gove, not by the local education authority.

Antidisestablishmentarianism

This is the longest word in the English language and it means being opposed to those who are for the separation of church and state in the United Kingdom. There is no such separation where the monarch is Head of State and the Church of England is the established church of the state. A battle was fought and lost with the 1944 Education Act which extended the right to schooling for all. Religious interests lobbied for and won the requirement to have a daily act of worship ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ in all state schools. This holds today, although many schools adapt assemblies to introduce singing and presentations of a general cultural kind. When Michael Gove talks in the House of Commons about ‘secular secondary schools’, he does so for the purposes of the moment and in the service of his racist attack on Muslims.

Never mind the joke lists about British values like ‘losing at cricket and loving curried chicken’. Never mind the deranged Tony Blair who has linked the ‘Trojan Horse plot’ to the terror network Boko Haram. Gove is seriously determined to stamp his ‘British values’ on us all, which is why he organised the sending of the King James Bible into every school in the country inscribed ‘presented by the Secretary of State for Education’.

Susan Davidson

 

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