NEW POLL: should BNP members be banned from teaching?

by Stephen Tall on June 22, 2009

Today’s Guardian reports that Labour’s schools secretary Ed Balls is seriously considering a possible ban on British National Party members working as teachers in schools:

A source close to the schools secretary, Ed Balls, said there had been several meetings on the issue with teaching unions which are lobbying for a change in teachers’ contracts to prevent them from working if they are members of far-right groups including the BNP. The issue was being “actively looked at”, the source said.

There are two things which are absolutely clear to me in all this. First, the BNP is a loathsome political party, and the views of it and by extension its members are repulsive. And, secondly, that the government has absolutely no right to prevent citizens from joining any legal organisation they wish so long as it does not interfere with their jobs.

To be sure, if a BNP member starts abusing their position of trust within a school to advocate voluntary repatriation of non-whites the school is well within its rights to sack them. But if that’s merely the personal view they hold, and which they do not seek to advocate publicly, it’s no business of ours. ‘Thoughtcrime’ is not more legitimate when practised against fascists rather than by them.

What do you, LDV’s readers, think? Do you think the NASUWT is right to call for teachers who are BNP members to be banned from teaching? Or do you think it’s an infringement of individual freedom too far?

The poll question is: Do you think there should be a change to teachers’ contracts to prevent BNP members from teaching? And your possible answers are:

Yes
No
Other [please state in comments]

Over to you…

Enjoy reading this? Please like and share:

No comments

This is just typical New Labour control freakery. I do not support the BNP in any way, shape or form – but people are entitled to join any official political party no matter how unpalatable their ideas.

Freedom of association is not something that should be curtailed.

We should engage with those with whom we disagree, expose their flaws and allow people to make an informed decision. Banning achieves nothing other than a very cheap headline that allows the BNP to claim to be victims

by Simon on June 22, 2009 at 9:56 am. Reply #

No. That’s just mental and completely ignoring the problem-cause and effect etc.

Which is unfortunately typical Labour…

If we’re to get to the route of the problem it’s actually within the curriculum, what is actually taught and making that more transparent to pupils and parents in a way that they will understand effectively what is being taught, why they are taught and this and what they will gain in terms of knowledge/skills/competency relevant to the 21st century in order to progress ethically and liberally within society.

Once that happens, (And I’m not just saying what we have now, which is again ‘there’ but not ‘there’ unless you ask and it’s still not accessibly explained)then when a teacher decides to skip Slavery-that took up centuries of British resources and contributed immensely to the economy, because it deals with black people, then the pupil can raise the flag to parents…school etc..

I also think there should be some type
of program were pupils can whistle blow..

Of course this will never happen against the Tories-another extreme party to Labour, so therefore we will continue to breed a bunch of pissed, angry, violent and un educated people who have no idea that the UK was one of the greatest catalysts for globalisation and colonisation..which might explain a little to them why immigrants know about this little Island..

by rantersparadise on June 22, 2009 at 10:05 am. Reply #

I voted other. As a (non-practicing) teacher, and as a Liberal Democrat, I refuse to condone any move to prescribe peoples personal opinions, so long as they don’t parade them in the classroom. For that reason I should vote NO, but…. I can’t.

Why? Because as a society we already condone, indeed encourage, the teaching of opinions, indeed of propaganda, in the classroom – it’s called ‘Religious Knowledge’.

by Martin Land on June 22, 2009 at 10:50 am. Reply #

What about far-left teachers teaching in private schools? Should that be allowed?

Why do only far-right groups get picked on? If the Communists were running the country we’d suffer just as much as under the BNP.

by Richard on June 22, 2009 at 11:07 am. Reply #

Witch-hunts will not defeat the BNP. Remember the absurd attempt to get the “BNP ballerina” sacked from the English National Ballet? (For which the egg-throwers at Unite Against Fascism were responsible.)

To be sure, if a BNP member starts abusing their position of trust within a school to advocate voluntary repatriation of non-whites the school is well within its rights to sack them.

Stephen hits the nail on the head here. I have argued elsewhere that speech can only be made unlawful by its content, not by who is speaking.

by Niklas Smith on June 22, 2009 at 11:12 am. Reply #

I’m voting yes, for the same reason that those with publicly held racist ideologies aren’t allowed to serve in the police, in the NHS, and the Army: these people are in a position of trust with our children, and are required to treat them all equally. Is it totally unfeasible to think that a black or immigrant child would be ignored and bullied by a BNP teacher?

by Robson on June 22, 2009 at 11:57 am. Reply #

It has to be no.

I have in my life come across plenty of people holding responsible positions as teachers etc and who are affiliated to extreme left-wing parties which have endorsed the nastiest of regimes. In fact, anyone who was a member of the Communist Party in the McCarthyite era falls into that category.

So, if we endorse the witch-hunt against BNP members, we should also agree that we would have been with, not against, McCarthy in those days. Otherwise, we’re hypocrites.

On “rantersparadise”


when a teacher decides to skip Slavery-that took up centuries of British resources and contributed immensely to the economy, because it deals with black people, then the pupil can raise the flag to parents…school etc..

Well, what about a teacher who DID teach “Slavery” but in a way that was “British people, inherently evil” rather than put it in context, noting for example the strong British campaign against slavery? Or the awkward fact that the West African elites (descendants of whom now form the majority of black faces in our schools) selling on prisoners of war were as much a driver of the slave trade as anyone? Or that the radical Cobbett argued that anti-slavery whigs were hypocrite because workers in their factories lived worse lives than West Indian slaves? Or that the Muslim world carried on the slave trade long after Britain tried stamping it out?

There is a problem in trying to endorse any one line as the politically correct one. The correct attitude to history should be to note there are various ways of interpreting it. We should try and be careful not to use history for any sort of propaganda reasons, not even for what we think of as good lessons in liberalism.

by Matthew Huntbach on June 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm. Reply #

Robson – the problem with those bans means that the BNP is able to claim to being singled out for special attention and that it does nothing to change the unpleasant views that you seek to oppose.

There are racists in all walks of life. There are homophobes, sexists and many other bigots in every workplace.

Banning membership of the BNP does nothing to protect anyone – it just gives that party something more to complain about.

You cannot legislate to abolish hatred. An Act of Parliament does nothing to change the hearts and minds of the population

by Simon on June 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm. Reply #

Would you vote “Yes” if the question were “Do you think there should be a change to teachers’ contracts to prevent Jews from teaching” ?

School should be about teaching children how to think critically, rationally, how to search for information and evaluate it once they’ve found it.

As long as teachers teach that and not their opinion or unprovable ideologies then it shouldn’t matter which party/ideology/crazy-cult they belong to.

If they then do preach, or try to evangelise/recruit, sack them for failing to do their job. Sack them for something they do, not something they might do.

by Martin on June 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm. Reply #

Cameron’s Tory MEPs today joined up with Latvian SS apologists, Gipsy haters & gay bashers:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6554672.ece

They presumably would have no problem if BNP teachers did push race hate in the classroom.

by ColinW on June 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm. Reply #

I vote no, as a Liberal, but with a heavy heart, as a mother.

by Jennie on June 22, 2009 at 2:44 pm. Reply #

I’m so glad the “noes” are running ahead in this poll. I’ve seen a few people this morning suggesting this is a good idea. It is not. And since most of those answering are also members of a political party I would have thought the answer was that obvious. Ban one, ban the lot one day? Anyone whose political opinions, however sincerely or privately held, has no right to a job, career and so on? It’s a very dangerous way to go and as many others have said will give them even more leverage.

But also this…by Niklas Smith:

speech can only be made unlawful by its content, not by who is speaking.

No, it cannot. Or at least in a liberal society. Free speech and freedom to publish opinion are an inextricable part of freedom of thought and conscience such that, as Mill said, you cannot ban the former without effectively banning the latter. Hearers/readers/listeners bear the responsibility to sift whatever speech they hear or opinions they read, however obnoxious or personally offensive (which is necessarily subjective), and conclude for themselves whether they should believe it or act upon it.

Speech or publication itself should never be banned, no matter its content – and to do so, however repulsive some may find that speech, crosses an important line in curtailing freedoms:

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

by Jock on June 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm. Reply #

No.

Where do you stop. Utterly and thoroughly illiberal.

by Cogload on June 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm. Reply #

What Jock said – with bells on.

This is utterly illiberal and should be strongly and totally resisted by our party.

Just because BNP members “aren’t allowed to serve in the police, in the NHS, and the Army” doesn’t make this ban morally legitimate, any more than those are – which they are not!

Of course it is not “totally unfeasible to think that a black or immigrant child would be ignored and bullied by a BNP teacher”, but there is a plethora of employment law and other legislation to deal with harrasment, child abuse and neglect without taking another misguided, if well meaning, step down the road to 1984.

by Andrew Duffield on June 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm. Reply #

@Jock: when I say “content” I mean in the sense of incitement to murder (as I explain in the comment I linked to). Even Mill argued that some speech was unlawful, though he (rightly) set a very stringent standard for judging speech unlawful.

My point is that there is no legitimate reason to limit someone’s right to free speech simply because of their membership of a repulsive organisation.

I am something of a free speech fanatic, but I still don’t think ordering someone to kill somebody should be legal. Nor do I think it is acceptable for a teacher to tell children that people with dark skin have no place in this country.

by Niklas Smith on June 22, 2009 at 4:40 pm. Reply #

@Andrew Duffield: I agree entirely – it’s a typical New Labour wheeze, introducing a new, wide-ranging law when the existing laws are perfectly able to stop any wrongs that might be committed.

by Niklas Smith on June 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm. Reply #

@ Matthew..

I know that! But it’s not relevant to the UK curriculum is it??

Personally as someone who allegedly went to a good school, we didn’t learn anything of use. And my sister who went to a school that did international b, did.

My point is, and I was using slavery as example because that was how it was taught in my school. It was as important economically as the industrial revolution. I was making an economic point not emotional like you are but if we’re to go further then I agree.

People are people, what ever skin colour, race, class or sex they come in.

People are shit but be shit in a equal and fair market not one were you have no right to get involved in and if you do, take it like a man/woman, instead of making excuses a la Bush with the Iraq war etc etc.

You want oil, so you had to get it all costs.

You want slave labour, so you had to get it all costs.

P.S The arabs are terribly honest but their role in slavery and still so as it hasn’t stopped in West to North Africa!

And it’s not as blanket as the West African chiefs like had a tonne a slaves hanging about and then these like white dudes came with these cute little guns with a bible in the other hand, they bumped fists, had cofee and exchanged money and were like ‘great doing business with you!’

by rantersparadise on June 22, 2009 at 4:56 pm. Reply #

I voted “Other” too, as I couldn’t bring myself to vote an absolute “no”.

I think that the fears and problems that people who would vote “yes” are trying to solve, are wrapped up in a hugely disfunctional society on many levels.

Our education system does not teach children to make empowered choices, and to create an empowered life. Instead it teaches something that is already very much in the vein of the BNP: elitism.

The BNPs racism is not far removed from the equally insane situation of judging the “intelligence” of children on the basis of their aptitude in arbitrary subjects which are *forced* on them from an early age, irrespective of their ‘buy in’.

There are alternative teaching systems that bring children along at a more natural pace, and allow them to find the value in learning, not for the sake of them becoming “good consumers with stable jobs”, but for the sake of them having lives that are worth living.

I do believe that there is ‘danger’ in our education system and an opportunity to damage our children, but the BNP are the least of my worries as a soon-to-be parent.

I want my child to be happy, to be empowered to stand up for their friends, and to be able to grow up in an education system that is funded and managed for them, not for government growth targets, and certainly not for the vested interests of the companies paying to put dodgy science into sponsored materials.

The mention of the end of slavery is a myth. It hasn’t ended, and we are closer to Brave New World than is often acknowledged. It’s just that it’s cheaper to enslave people you’re not responsible for providing food, cloths and shelter for!

by Neale Upstone on June 22, 2009 at 10:57 pm. Reply #

Pardon, Ranters Paradise?

Would you vote “Yes” if the question were “Do you think there should be a change to teachers’ contracts to prevent Jews from teaching” ?

MARTIN

What on Earth do Jews have to do with this? Jews are a religio-ethnic group; BNP supporters are self-selecting members of a political party (never mind that membership is restricted to certain ethnic groups; not all individuals in those groups do join).

Or the awkward fact that the West African elites (descendants of whom now form the majority of black faces in our schools) selling on prisoners of war were as much a driver of the slave trade as anyone?

MATTHEW HUNTBACH

I’m not disputing the fact of the involvement by local states, but I would be surprised if a “majority of black faces in our schools” were descended from partipants. Shurely a majority hails from the West Indies?

Remember the absurd attempt to get the “BNP ballerina” sacked from the English National Ballet? (For which the egg-throwers at Unite Against Fascism were responsible.)

NIKLAS SMITH

Reading BNP blogs at the time, it was grimly humourous to see them arguing that Simone Clarke and he mixed-race child should be elligle for ‘special’ treatment under their vision of race-laws.

Richard makes a point about far-left groups in teaching. Those extremists behind UAF are generally SWP or Socialist Action who, if they have proper jobs, are almost exclusively in teaching or further education, and have had IMHO a thoroughly malign effect on British politics.

I voted no, if only because one million or so voters cannot all be hard-core Nazis and racists. Many are simply confused, or reaction (wrongly) against the damage caused by the SWP/SA, and discplining them for a theoretical risk would only galvanized the BNP more than a thousand eggs from the street-thugs of UAF.

by Efrafan Days on June 23, 2009 at 10:38 am. Reply #

Also apologies for the atrocious spelling. Well, I had the correct spellings. Just not in the correct places.

by Efrafan Days on June 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm. Reply #

As long as they’re a legal party, there’s no reason to ban their members from being teachers.

However, I disagree with this statement:

“Speech or publication itself should never be banned, no matter its content – and to do so, however repulsive some may find that speech, crosses an important line in curtailing freedoms”

So would you allow libel, slander, perjury, and lots of other examples, to be legal??

Never mind that restricting speech that is incitement to violence, or racist, isn’t illiberal under the harm principle, although it is difficult to do so.

by Alex on June 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm. Reply #

i voted no because what right do people have to stop others beliving what they want to belive but if a teacher was parading racist views in a lesson then they should be fired or suspended for discrimination but then again so is firing someone just for being bnp if they dont show it

by cal on June 26, 2009 at 12:43 am. Reply #

Anyone voting ‘yes’ is by definition not a Liberal.

by john zims on June 26, 2009 at 9:55 pm. Reply #

I vote no. But I am sure it won’t be long before the looney left will try and sack anybody from their job if they VOTE BNP. What happens if someone joins the police force and say I am not a member of the BNP, nor shall I ever be a member, but I support them and vote for them. This will be the next freedom lost. Personally I think anyone of the far left doctrine should also be singled out along with the BNP as they are equally as narrow minded and discriminating. Also why don’t they teach in schools how many African countries (e.g. Zimbabwe and S. Africa) have racist rules where they only employ blacks and ban whites from jobs, or focibly take their businesses. Oh sorry forgot, only white people can be racists and bigots!

by Josiah Soap on July 5, 2009 at 9:31 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment

Required.

Required. Not published.

If you have one.