A British cultural revolution? Clueless UK education secretary may need some history lessons

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 January, 2011, 12:00am

It's official: the British coalition government really is a Maoist enterprise. It's not only its critics who make the charge. Now, even Michael Gove, the education secretary, admits it - and proudly, too. Writing in The Daily Telegraph this week, Gove said he wanted nothing less than a 'cultural revolution' for Britain's education system that would make the Great Helmsman proud.

'The government has been responding to the economic and social crises we face with big and comprehensive programmes,' he wrote. 'And nowhere has that been more needed than in education, where I am happy to confess I'd like us to implement a cultural revolution just like the one they've had in China.'

Oh my gosh! He said he was surprised during a recent trip to China and Singapore, where the students were so much more advanced than their British counterparts. He must be the last education minister in the world not to know that. But now Gove thinks a British cultural revolution will halt national and cultural decline.

'Like Chairman Mao , we've embarked on a Long March to reform our education system,' he went on. 'Sometimes we will have to manoeuvre less than elegantly to get around obstacles. But the alternative, simply accepting the inevitability of our decline, is not an option.'

So all that cost-cutting, fee-raising, economising and efficiency enhancement is not enough? I can already see fresh-faced Oxbridge students putting dunce's hats on frail elderly professors and dragging them through broken glass in once-tranquil garden campuses in front of vicious, cheering crowds; and first-edition copies of Darwin's On the Origin of Species and Newton's Principia Mathematica being thrown into bonfires.

Perhaps the recent student riots in London were a foretaste of things to come. Unfortunately, the English alphabet does not readily lend itself to the kind of 'big character' posters used to denounce anyone over 30 and with an education beyond primary level as an intellectual and a member of the bourgeoisie.

Gove truly spells the decline of the West. What else can that be when the education minister of a major Western power knows so little about history?