Brexit and “Generation Snowflake”

By Chris McGovern

The “Brexit” vote confirmed a stark generational difference between the views of the older and the younger generations. A pre-referendum YouGov poll indicated that 72% of 18 to 24 year-olds wished to stay in the EU with only 19% wanting an exit. In contrast, amongst pensioners, 59% wanted to leave.

The subsequent post-referendum petition and the mass protest event in London, attracted widespread support amongst young people. Democracy had produced the ‘wrong’ result and a second referendum was, and is, being demanded. There have been tears, tantrums, even. Why?

If you are a “Brexit” supporter you might be perplexed. If, however, you have some knowledge of what goes on in our classrooms these days you will be much less surprised. Sadly, our schools have achieved a brilliant success in terms of convincing many young people that a knowledge-lite education is no impediment to thought or opinion. Indeed, the perceived ability to build ideas and ideologies on limited understanding is a crowning achievement of educational reform over the past 30 years.

“It was our futures that you were voting on, not yours,” is the refrain of many disappointed young people. “What right does an older generation have to interfere with our demands?” There is an emotional, even poetic, allurement in all of this, of course. Its sinister and beguiling attraction was beautifully expressed in the “Cabaret” song, “Tomorrow belongs to me”.

Much the same cry was heard during China’s Cultural Revolution. Mao’s Red Book addressed the young and was unequivocal as to their ownership of the future:

“The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you … The world belongs to you.”

Placing ownership of the future in the hands of the younger generation has a seductive but very flawed logic. Being readily open to manipulation it is, also, extremely dangerous, especially when it is based, at best, on lack of experience and, at worst, on lack of knowledge.

Survey after survey has shown, as I outlined in my CIB pamphlet Generations Betrayed, that most young people have very little knowledge of British history. Knowledge and understanding of how our democracy has evolved, for example, is largely unknown territory.

The latest version of the History National Curriculum is, in many ways, a surrender document to the European Union. It does not require the teaching of a single landmark event or personality from British history. Where specific events and individuals are mentioned they are only given the status of “examples (non-statutory) of what teachers “could include”. The Napoleonic Wars have not even been awarded that status. They do not get a mention.

The Curriculum is a ‘free for all’. Do what you what. It is Sex Pistols history – anarchy! The Times Educational Supplement resources website publishes model lessons for and from teachers. It is illustrative of how the Curriculum translates into classroom practice.

So, what history are teachers choosing to teach from, say, the 19th century? The site offers 23 model lessons on Lord Palmerston, 27 on Cecil Rhodes, 35 on Nelson and 37 on Pitt the Younger. In contrast, there are 143 model lessons on Jack the Ripper. Topics are chosen on the basis of how far they allow history to be presented as ‘detective work’. These days history teaching is all about developing so-called ‘skills’. Content is largely irrelevant to this process. The History National Curriculum does, however, make an exception for the history of Islam, West Africa (Benin) and Central America (Mayas). These three topics appear on a statutory list, one of which must be taught.

The ‘knowledge void’ amongst young people has been filled in part by apathy. A willingness to participate in the EU referendum was much stronger amongst older people.  The majority of 18-24 year olds, at least 57% it seems, chose not to vote at all.

This unwillingness to engage in the democratic process, a consequence of ignorance, surely, further emphasises a dangerous failure in our education system. Charles Moore suggested as much in a piece for The Daily Telegraph (28th June):

“In a democratic system, if you wish to affect your future, you must vote. This does not seem to be taught in schools any more – and nor is the impressive history of our parliamentary democracy – but it is the key point.”

We should not, therefore, be too surprised by voting apathy amongst the young. Our school curriculum ensures, quite simply, that mostly they do not know enough to recognise the importance of political engagement.

Ownership of the future, consequently, should always be shared and cross-generational. The duty of older people to the young should never be benign acquiescence. Indeed, many young people, but not all, understand and expect direction and leadership from those who have seen and experienced rather more of the world.

Those young people who are now struggling to cope with the stress of the referendum result might have been better prepared had their education taught them that in a democracy one does not always get one’s own way. It should, also, have taught them why their ancestors fought and died to preserve liberty, including the right to cast a meaningful vote.

Chris McGovern is Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education

“Generation Snowflake” refers to young people, typically university or college students, who react with distress to the expression of ideas that they believe to be offensive or emotionally challenging.

Scrapping student fees on withdrawal – an appeal to younger voters?

We need to engage younger voters in the referendum on leaving the EU. One argument which may appeal is that taking the EFTA option would allow us to scrap student fees.

Firstly, for the benefit of those who are not aware of EFTA, is is the European Free Trade Association (See  www.efta.int.)  Norway is a member of EFTA and is one of the wealthiest countries in Europe.  The majority of its electorate do not want to join the EU.

EFTA countries have an economic agreement with the EU, allowing for free movement of goods, services, people and capital. However Liechtenstein has ‘special provisions’ for controlling immigration, far more powerful than the feeble “Emergency Brake” which David Cameron needs to ask permission to apply.

But what are the issues for younger people and students?

Lower income – poor job opportunities and downward pressure on wages from immigration

Middle income – high rents and house prices, making it difficult to save for a deposit, due to immigration demand on housing, also downward pressure on wages from immigration and also student loans to pay off.

In 2014, the UK paid a net £11 billion to the EU. Norway does not pay to be part of the Single Market, it diverts some of its foreign aid to the EU – something the UK could also do, and use the £11 billion savings for getting rid of student tuition fees and also outstanding student tuition fees.

At the end of 2014-15 there were 4.6m borrowers with outstanding student loans, with a total debt of £64.7 billion. So with £11 billion to spend in the UK, that would allow, all loans to be paid off in 7 years.

Maintenance loans could be worked out using the minimum wage for the weeks studying and not working. For example £7.20 per hour * 35 hours in a week = £252 per week

Average weeks studying, winter 10 weeks, Spring 10 weeks, summer 8 weeks = 28 weeks

28 weeks * £252 = £7056

For 3 years is, £7056 * 3 = £21168

Perhaps the after tax amount could be calculated and also an expectation that students have some sort of part time job during studying time. I.e. working out the amount using 25 or 30 hours a week.

There are other ways to speed up the paying off of all outstanding student loans, by reviewing how easy it is for new immigrant to access benefits, for example needing to contribute for 5 years, or only receiving the amounts they would get in their own country.

Current benefits to EU immigrants include: Housing benefit, tax credits and unemployment benefit of £2.5 billion – a significant amount. With more immigration, this amount could increase even more. If other people in other EU countries avoid paying their taxes and vote for corrupt, irresponsible and incompetent politicians, there is no reason for the UK taxpayer to be held financially responsible.

Some studies have shown that every person unemployed costs the taxpayers around £10,000 in benefits and lost tax revenue. So if the UK had Norway’s and Switzerland’s average unemployment rate of around 4% instead of 5.1%, that would be around 1.36 million, instead of 1.7 million, an extra 340,000 paying tax, or another £3.4 bn. If the UK had 3% unemployment, this could add another £6.8bn.

All helping pay off outstanding student debt faster.

Free Student tuition and maintenance grants, calculation

250,000 students with £35,000 debt = approx £9 bn

Current outstanding student loans = £64.7 bn

Savings from leaving the EU and switching to a win-win EFTA Single Market + Opt Outs agreement

Current net EU contribution = £11bn a year

Cost of projects due to higher population HS2 = £42.6bn

Cost of projects due to higher population, Hinkley point nuclear power subsidy potential = £20bn

Since the foreign aid budget is set to increase from £11bn to £16bn by 2020, this extra money could be used for any aid projects in Eastern Europe.

Likely the fastest way to increase the paying off loans is by having a trade balance, and so an increase in tax revenues. Leaving the EU and joining EFTA is the easiest and fastest way. Increasing average income to Norway’s level would also help i.e. £ 36,000 compared to the UK of £24,000. Younger voters and undecideds voting to Leave the EU would be voicing their emancipation proclamation, freeing themselves from financial serfdom.

Since the UK also has a trade deficit with the EU, which means loss of jobs and loss of company sales, then a trade balance will help in increasing government revenues from more: income tax, corporation tax, VAT, council tax, fuel duty, business rates and other taxes. So allowing the student loans to be paid off, and restore free higher education, as before the UK switched to the EU, from the EEC. The reduction in regulations would also be like a tax cut for businesses, helping making it easier to grow their businesses. In addition the hidden cost affecting the public sector of the EU style of top down ideas, centralisation/mergers, poor communication, and low morale would also be lifted allowing better decisions, communication and higher morale.

More University bias

After reporting the appalling bias of Dr Tony Arnold of Birmingham University, we have recently been sent another illustration of the way our universities are trying to manipulate the student vote. Our correspondent has requested anonymity, so the identity of the university in question has been withheld.

In this instance,  the culprit was the Vice Chancellor, no less. “I have been speaking out on the benefits that being part of the EU brings to us,” he wrote. “This view is shared by the national representative body for universities, Universities UK. We take this position because we recognise the enormous value of the partnerships: the free movement of talented students and staff through EU-funded schemes such as Erasmus and the access to the research community and sources of research funding that membership of the EU can offer.”

Then follows some statistics: “More than 125,000 EU students study at UK universities and 15% of academic staff working at UK universities are from other EU countries. This is hugely beneficial nationally to the success of the UK’s knowledge-based economy and to our success as a leading research and teaching institution. It is also invaluable in enabling the creation of the diverse cultural, social and intellectual mix here at the univeristy of Xxxxxx. Here at Xxxxxx, in the past five years, 18% of our research funding has come from European sources and this has supported more than £58 million of research activity here.

This is rather a distortion of the picture. No one is suggesting that withdrawal from the EU means withdrawal from the Erasmus scheme. A quick glance at the flags on the home page of the Erasmus website indicates that several non-EU countries participate.  Why shouldn’t an independent UK continue to support  it too? This also applies to wider co-operation with universites, not just within the EU. Any idea that leaving the EU means that the UK will pull up some sort of academic drawbridge is a caricature of the reality.

What is more to the point is that, as with so many other pro-EU statements, the Vice Chancellor’s statement does not even touch on the EU’s raison d’être. It is a project to create a federal superstate. The benefits (or otherwise) to our universities of EU membership are very secondary issues compared with whether we want the democratic institutions of our nation to be hollowed out and, to quote Ken Clarke, our Westminster Parliament reduced to “just a council chamber in Europe.”

Still considering that the recent government booklet makes no mention of the critical subject of sovereignty, can we be suprised that a leading academic has adopted the same strategy? Europhiles will talk about anything except what the EU project was been designed to do.

Across the Channel, a few people on the Continent are prepared to be honest about the objective of the EU, but such openness looks to be very much the exception here.

A letter from Chris McGovern

CIB members will be receiving a copy of Generations Betrayed by Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education with the next newsletter. Chris recently had this letter published in the Financial Times:

Sir,

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for not joining in the national anthem at the recent Battle of Britain Service. However, the Prime Minister has done the country an even greater disservice. His new National Curriculum for History omits any requirement to teach about either world war, let alone the Battle of Britain.

Chris McGovern

Chairman, Campaign for Real Education

A copy of Chris’s excellent booklet, Generations Betrayed, which illustrates how history teaching has been dumbed down, will be included with the next CIB members’ newsletter,which is due to be posted imminently.

 

Photo by Airwolfhound

No summer holiday for the Government as Lord Stoddart keeps the pressure on

Parliament goes into recess this week but Lord Stoddart of Swindon is keeping the pressure on the Government in regard to its agenda for dealing with the EU, by submitting the written questions below.  We are not sure when the answers will be supplied as the recess means that they are not answered on a daily basis and will appear in a weekly round-up.  We will keep you posted.  Alternatively, you can keep up with the many written questions Lord Stoddart puts to the Government at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenanswers

You might be interested to know that Lord Stoddart was named by the Freedom Association as Parliamentarian of the Week on 3rd July.  Read more about it here.

Written question HL1436: Lord Stoddart of Swindon 14-07-2015

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Asked on: 14 July 2015

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to challenge the imposition of a £642 million fine on the United Kingdom relating to the administration of Common Agricultural Policy farm payments; and whether in their negotiations for a return of powers to the United Kingdom they will include the removal of European Union powers to impose financial penalties on Member States.

Written question HL1437: Lord Stoddart of Swindon 14-07-2015

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Asked on: 14 July 2015

Department for Education

Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Nash on 16 June (HL521) concerning schools’ compliance with sections 406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996, whether they are aware of campaigns by the European Commission to promote the European Union in primary and secondary schools; and how those educational establishments will provide a balanced treatment of the issue of United Kingdom membership of the European Union.

Yes we can – sell your country, know your history!

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of presenting CIB’s latest booklet, Generations Betrayed, to the Better Off Out group – a meeting of MPs, Lords, think tanks and eurosceptic campaign groups. This excellent booklet, written by Chris McGovern, Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, illustrates how history teaching has been dumbed down in British schools, producing a generation who have left school with a severe lack of knowledge about our past. Those who do not know the history of our country with its great distinctives, says Chris, are harder to win round to supporting withdrawal from the EU.

The presentation led to an interesting discussion and some helpful conversations afterwards. One theme to emerge is that we who are campaigning for “Out” must be unashamed to tell our country’s history to those who don’t know it. “In” supporters are belittling the country that has nurtured them. “Poor little England can’t stand up on its own in the 21st Century. We have to be part of the European project.” What nonsense! (I could use a stronger word, but don’t want to offend my readers’ sensibilities!) A nation with such a great past can look forward to what Owen Paterson described as a “spectacular” future outside the EU. It is so unfortunate that, in an age which is seeing a growing national self-awareness among, for example, the Flemings in Belgium or the Catalans in Spain that patriotism in this country is frowned upon and history is taught from a curriculum devised by people consumed with national self-loathing. As I mentioned to the group yesterday, our history does contain a few blemishes, but the balance overall is of a very positive story. We have far, far less of which to be ashamed in our past than not just (obviously) Germany but also France, Spain and Russia, to name a few others.

Much of the debate in recent weeks has revolved around economic issues and CIB fully recognises the need for an exit strategy which is feasible, watertight and at least economically neutral. The “out” campaign must be realistic, rather than aspirational when it comes to the nitty gritty of the withdrawal process. However, this needs to be set to some very optimistic mood music. It is the supporters of “in” who are the Little Englanders – belittling our abilities, decrying our history, undermining our confidence. Barack Obama may now appear a lame duck president, but he won the 2009 US Presidential election by setting a positive note – “Yes we can.” If we can sell an equally positive vision for the UK on independence as well as convincing the electorate that the sky will not fall in economically, it will be greatly to our advantage. This year is particularly rich in anniversaries – Magna Carta 1215, Agincourt 1415, Waterloo 1815. Has there ever been a better opportunity to harness our past successes to the service of selling our future success to a public who must surely be receptive to a positive vision for our great country?

(Copies of Generations Betrayed can be obtained by contacting CIB at the address on the home page of the website or by e-mailing [email protected]. Price is £2 per copy plus postage & packing)

Photo by David Jones