Will there be a West Lothian Question over whether it’s taught in schools
The latest move in Gordon Brown’s “Britishness” initiative is that it should be compulsory for schools to teach “core British values alongside cultural diversity”. The problem is that this will only apply in England and as the BBC’s Daily Politics programme reported this morning – it will not apply in Scotland.
For while the Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, can lay down policy for schools in England, as he did today, his writ does not run north of the border. He has no say over Scotland’s schools and the only way that “Britishness” can be taught there is if a separate decision is made in Edinburgh.
According to Andrew Neil on the programme this is not likely to happen. So, potentially, we have the faintly ridiculous situation of pupil being forced to study this in one part of the Kingdom but not in another.
You have to question whether Gordon has got the whole concept of Britishness right? It’s one that does not ring true and as a recent survey showed the English are increasingly likely to think of themselves as that and not British. The way the policy is developing looks as though it’s something being foisted on the English to deal with the Chancellor’s concern over his own cultural heritage.
Meanwhile the Gordon Brown price on the Labour Leadership betting market weakened to 0.21/1. It has moved out from 0.17/1 in just a fortnight.
I am not suggesting that anybody should bet against the Chancellor but his handling of the issue has raised doubts in my mind.