Underpinning Tory values

The Head of East Bridgewater Community School pens a letter to the Times Educational Supplement:

Dear Mr Gove,

Thank you for taking the trouble to send me a copy of the King James Bible (“What should you do with the King James Bible from Michael Gove?”, 18 May). I appreciate you spending this considerable sum of money on distributing these weighty tomes across the country. In lieu of the capital monies that our school requires, I have placed this book under the corner of our main block to stop it listing any further. I see this as a highly cost-effective solution to scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme.

If you are looking for further inspired ideas about how to spend money wisely, we are in desperate need of a series of umbrellas to place on the flat roof to stop the rain coming in — maybe you could have your face printed on them so the pupils would know who had been so generous.

Well said, Peter Elliott!

Malcolm can guarantee there isn’t a secondary school in the country without a dusty cupboard and a stack of King James Bibles. There may be a similar, smaller pile of discarded Milton, Dickens, Tennyson, those quite adequate late-Victorian Shakespeare (but sadly, no pretty piccies for the yobs to draw penises on).  The Religious Studies Department may occasionally actually use a few of the King Jameses — though, equally sadly, for some linguistic reason, decadent modern versions are preferred.

As for Bibles, should new ones be needed, the Gideons and other worthy charities rush to fill the breach. Try that with a physics or a maths text-book, and a swift refusal may offend.

But Gove believes every school should celebrate his enstoolment and the Jacobean text — in that order, as the book’s gilded title proudly displays (see top of post). In case anyone misses whose effable name should be honoured, there’s a preface with Gove’s name and title subscribed in every copy. To think, once upon a time, only Robert Barker of Datchet, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, was licensed to produce the text.

A Malcolmian aside

effable, adj.

a. Of sounds, letters, etc.: That can be pronounced (obs.).
b. That can be, or may lawfully be, expressed or described in words. Now only arch. in antithesis to ineffable.

So not what you first thought, my grubby-minded friend.

And the whole business has cost £370,000:

Gove said: “It’s important to stress that the money for the distribution of these Bibles came from a variety of philanthropists, some of them people who have given money to the Conservatives, some of them people who have given money to the Liberal Democrats, one person who never would support any political party but thought that it was a good idea.”

Thanks to another Guardian piece, such self-effacing “philanthropists” can be revelated:

It has now emerged that leading Tory donors – mostly former hedge fund and private equity bosses – are footing the bill. They include Lord Stanley Fink, the former co-treasurer of the Conservative party who was once chief executive of the listed hedge fund Man Group. Fink, a life peer, has donated more than £2.3m to Tory projects.

Lord Robert Edmiston, a motor trade entrepreneur who gave more than £3.2m to the Tory party between 2000 and 2010, has also sponsored the Bible project. The life peer is an evangelical Christian who set up the charity Christian Vision.

Others who have funded the scheme include Ramez Sousou of the private equity firm TowerBrook, who has also given support to Cameron’s party, Michael Farmer, the Conservative party co-treasurer and City financier who has donated more than £3m to the party, and Lord Harris, a regular donor to the Conservatives and the chairman of Carpetright.

The Liberal Democrat donor Paul Marshall, a hedge fund boss and committed Christian, and his wife have also donated funds for the scheme, as has Sir Peter Lampl, the founder of a private equity firm who is an education philanthropist.

So far, so goody-goody

And now to ConHome for the partisan bit.

Here we find an unsigned — and faintly Stalinist — piece (though, since it is in the local government slot, we may presume that saturnine Harry Phibbs had a hand) denouncing Mr Elliott’s sneering ingratitude, representing East Bridgwater Community School as bog standard, and continuing:

He seems to have rather missed the fact, which has been widely reported, that no taxpayers’ money was spent on sending out the bookIs he really so ignorant about the matter he has chosen to write about? Or is he seeking to deliberately mislead? Either way, if I lived in Bridgwater I wouldn’t want my children to go to his school – not because of the deficiencies of the building, but the deficiency of imagination and leadership.

The sooner a free school is set up in Bridgwater to give parents a choice, the better.

From which Malcolm draws the following lessons:

  • A headteacher is not supposed to complain about the conditions of his premises.
  • Only cheers of approval are required to any Govian enterprise.
  • “Free schools” are a political device, where the true orthodoxy can be indoctrinated.
  • Harry Phibbs, or whoever, doesn’t have a clue or a care about education as it is generally practised.

As for “sneering”, here’s an interesting comparison:

  • Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags. [Isaiah 57, 4-5, King James version]
  • Whom are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars? You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags. [Isaiah 57, 4-5, New International version]
Wide mouths. Rebels (remind us: what was a tóraidhe?). Liars. Sacrificing children. A bit of lust.

Hmm: sounds fair account of Tories.

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Filed under ConHome, Conservative family values, culture, education, Guardian, History, reading, schools, Shakespeare, Tories.

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