Corbyn's grievance-mongering manifesto shows the shape of things to come

Corbyn's grievance-mongering manifesto shows the shape of things to come

Under a Labour government, the UK's historic misdemeanours would be taught in schools

Earlier this year, footage of the annual conference of the "Democratic Socialists of America" went viral, to the delight of many social media users. It has to be seen to be believed. Each speaker,  address ingtheir gathered  comrades,  begins  their  introduction  by  expressing  their preferred  pronoun.  One  delegate (“James Jackson, Sacramento, he/him”) appeals for the noise in the hall to be kept to a minimum, being “very prone to sensory overload”, only to be castigated  by  a  fellow  attendee for deploying “gendered language” (Jackson had used the word "guys").

This may be top entertainment for cynical Brits, but as they say in Glasgow, it’s all fun and games  until  someone  loses  an  eye.  Wokeness,  as  practised  by  the  US  Left,  encourages  the eager  grasping  of  offence  in  order  to  depict  oneself  as  a  victim –the  highest  status  in  the burgeoning wokeocracy. Worryingly, it’s heading in our direction.

There was more than a glimmer of this political we a ponising of victim hood in Labour’s launch of its Race and Faith manifesto earlier today-much of which is simply adding flesh to what was already announced in the manifesto last week: a government audit of the legacy of the British Empire.

Under a Labour government, Britain’ se vil doings across the globe from the 17th to the 20th century will  be  taught  in  schools.  Of  course  there  is  nothing  wrong  in  teaching  history  and being open about our own country’s historic misdemeanours. Many British schools and syllabi do so already. But I confess to some uneasiness when politicians –especially those with little academic  or  teaching  background –aspire  to  tell  parents  what  they  believe  is  in  the  best interests  of  their  children  to  learn.  The  clear  intent  is  to  stoke  up  even  greater  levels  of discontent onuniversity campuses and beyond than exist today.

Rather than coming to terms with our colonial past, students are increasingly demanding that statues  and  portraits  of  figures  who  died  centuries  ago  be  removed.  These  students  are apparently  "offended"  by  the  statues  and  as  we  all  know  by  now,  the  giving  or  taking  of offence is notto be tolerated under any circumstances.

It’s even happening in Glasgow. Various street names that reflect Britain’s colonial history –Jamaica Street, Virginia Street and Tobago Street, for example –were named for the wealth various Scottish merchants brought to the city via industries such as tobacco, which used slave labour. A hideous legacy, to be sure. But surely changing the street names to something more modern and inclusive would serve only to relegate such concerns to the back of our minds? This would be an easy alternative to facing the difficult truths of the past, not a means to do so.

Labour hope to redraw the National Curriculum in order to add topics that the party believes should shape the  opinions and minds of our future generations. This is an essential part of the worldview of the Left–particularly the far Left, from which Corbyn hails. While most of the  population  manages  to  move  beyond  the  self-flagellation  and  self-loathing  that  often accompanies an inspection of Britain’s imperial past,  the  Left  rejoice  in  blaming  modern Britain for 19th century Britain’s sins.

Shortly  after  the  end  of  the  Falklands  conflict  in  1982,  I  was  approached  by  a  canvasser working for the Revolutionary Communist Party (she’s probably in the Shadow Cabinet by now) asking me to share her opposition to Britain’s occupation of “the Malvinas”. She then explained  patiently  why  it  would  have  been  better if  the fascist junta  in Argentina  had  not been prevented from imposing its will on the Falkland Islanders.

Britain,  to  be  sure,  was  responsible  for  a  great  deal  of  terrible  things  done  in  the  name  of patriotism  (and  some  good  things  too).  But  why  the  need  to  explore  such  topics  any  more than  they  already  are  in  classrooms?  In  order  to  lay  blame,  presumably.  Yet  the  guilt  for appalling acts of violence and subjugation lies with long-dead men; British citizens need feel no more responsible for the evils of Empire than modern day Americans should for slavery.

If there is a shortfall in schools’ syllabuses about the empire (or any other subject), then it should be filled by teachers rather than politicians. Otherwise this will not be an attempt to reconcile ourselves with our complicated past, but to create unnecessary division.

A far more instructive and informed addition to the curriculum would focus on Russia and its own, rather more contemporary, imperial ambitions. But I suspect that’s unlikely under a government ledby Jeremy Corbyn.

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