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My conclusion to Kafka’s Cycle – if lawyers let me say it – When “Wouldn’t it be nice if” goes terribly badly wrong
I write about the dark, hidden side of the human behaviour. I touch on the subconscious that guides people’s thoughts and actions without their realising.
Many people don’t realise it. Although there will still be the odd skirmish, when Equality is of the essence, in Western democracies the battle has been largely won. When it comes to suffrage and jobs, by and large you wont find discrimination by colour, race, creed or gender. If you are a patient in your NHS, you will see its total victory in those who care for you. Visit London. Never forget all those who gave their lives to achieve this.
However, some people still assert Equality when they want to advance the interests of the disadvantaged. Inequality offends. Human Rights lawyers create rights like lollypops, all of them of equal size – the right of the cyclist to be on the road, for example, even though they are only two per cent of road users paying no tax or insurance. Their rights, yes. Their equal rights, question mark.
Equality has a rival. The value of individual difference. Diversity. The pursuit of individual excellence. Individual DNAs. I have said elsewhere, “we are equal only sometimes, unequal most times, different always.” It is the same with our rights.
Homogenising people, trying to engineer them through a multiplicity of identical tiny holes in the name of equality feels wrong. What you need, but what is so often lacking today, is fair play. Its absence also offends. Today, more than ever before, income differentials without any justification. Fair play is needed here, not equality.
It goes far beyond that. Equality of opportunity to go to University and parity of esteem between the academic and the technical have dominated the agenda for schools in recent years. The National Curriculum an integral part of it. Exams too. Closing special schools under the banner of Inclusion a consequence.
We are now paying a terrible price for the pursuit of Equality without respect for difference and diversity.
When education should be about giving kids self-esteem and the self-confidence to go out into the world, we have branded those who don’t get to University as failures -every year half a school cohort – and we have not equipped them for that journey. Tens of thousands of NTAs recruited to help teachers cope regardless of expense, not needed in my day. Egalitarians please note. Bullying still rampant, now cyberbullying too. Special needs kids always the most vulnerable. Many kids off-rolled or excluded to help school performance stats. Many medicated with Ritalin. Mental health problems abound. School disturbance logged by the hundred. Increasing drug and knife culture.Today’s Times – “£400m schools funding diverted ….with limited places in special schools there are more pupils in mainstream schools who need extensive support.”
“Wouldn’t it be nice if “gone terribly badly wrong.
There should be an alternative curriculum with an education in life skills, including music, the arts, culinary skills & dietary know-how. A conversational foreign language. Sport and fitness. The Internet and, yes, intelligent games. These are all squeezed out by the core curriculum. Not equal. Different. Schools for the kids, not the other way around. Lessons that they will look forward to.
Read about the success of Jenny Smith head of Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow, east London who used music to turn around her school and of Truda White who did the same in Islington, north London.
Don’t aim to give every child equal worth. Simply recognise their intrinsic value – each one of them.
Because the State cannot afford free further education for everyone it is no good reason why it shouldn’t again give State Scholarships to encourage ambition, reward talent and effort, and invest in them when the country needs their skills in the future. Yes, unequal but not unfair. Instead we spend all our money on student loans that can grow to £50k and talk about improving social mobility. Ho Ho.
Here is another trap for the unwary, especially for lawyers. They create rights to something you haven’t got, maybe ideally you should have, research the need for it and then say everyone has an equal right to it. That cracks the problem. Does it? They bake their bread without the yeast of practicality. Never see the need for it.
The latest wheeze – there are others in this book – encouraged by the EC, they give you a right to clean air.
They then direct local authorities to deliver it. Drive old cars off the road. Tax those least able to pay. Narrow their road space and lengthen the tailbacks in rush hour, with consultation, of course. The rights of others to lead their lives of absolutely no consequence. In their world they never are. You don’t crack problems by creating human rights to the solutions. You crack them by practical policies, here thousands and thousands of fast chargers for the new wave of electric vehicles and the clean electricity to power them.
The legal profession, not my favourite breed these days but it helps that, for a short time, it was my chosen career. They parade equality before the Law but some hope if you are pitched against the State or an insurance company or a multinational company, and if you are in court without a lawyer. Or if you are in a Disability Tribunal without good legal advice. Again, I plead for fair play and bemoan its absence.
But the biggest trap of all if subconsciously Equality is your Utopia. Not to see and acknowledge the relativity of human knowledge and knowhow. Some people are book wise. Others are street wise. Some are not wise at all. They are not old enough yet for that.
I write about the arrogant gene. “What I want, should have – everyone else should want, should have.” But they don’t always want it, and they don’t always need it. Cycle lanes for example.
Isn’t this true? People project for others what they want for themselves when others want something quite different? For example, some people wanted mainstream education for their children with special needs and thought others should also want it whereas, for example many parents of children with autism, prefer a special school – without bullying and with specialised teachers and carers. But give them all a right to mainstream schools, a right they must exercise, but a right that often doesn’t deliver.
And they never allow for human frailty including their own. Never do their homework first. They never anticipate that anyone would be corrupted by power given to them by their position or by wealth. They themselves wouldn’t be. Or wouldn’t they to keep their job? In a word the shamateur, the shabby amateur. Sloppiness triumphant!
There are two sides to the coin. On the Right, complacency and short-termism. The culture of the Termite “They build and defend their own nests. That’s all they have done, all they ever do.” Tracy’s last words in my play Death of a Nightingale. On the Left, piety, naivete and, at times, hypocrisy too as they try to create a world in their own image taking no account of human frailty, fallibility, venality and diversity.
“Do not base your thoughts on an imagined realty.” That is what this book is about.
A convoy goes at the speed of its slowest ship. After the Brexit debate is all over, Britain will either be part of a convoy or on its own. Either way pursue excellence, don’t excuse mediocrity, don’t defend incompetence. This is the best way to keep the flag flying.
It is for the day after tomorrow
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