Curriculum Vital

Fair is foul, and foul is fair
The Cameron Delusion, by Peter Hitchens

Why are secondary schools no longer allowed to select by ability? Why is there no direct train between Oxford and Cambridge? Why did the media become so fond of the Conservative Party and so hostile to Labour around 2008? What’s the difference between ‘racism’ and ‘racialism’? In The Cameron Delusion, award-winning journalist Peter Hitchens answers these and many other urgent questions. The result is a fascinating and depressing analysis, or as Hitchens would say, ‘obituary’ of the United Kingdom.

The Cameron Delusion is an updated edition of Hitchens’ 2009 book The Broken Compass. The revised title jabs at Richard Dawkins’ 2006 polemic The God Delusion, but the New Atheism (of which Peter’s brother Christopher became a central figure after the publication of his book God Is Not Great in 2007) is just one of many beasts Hitchens attempts to slay in this erudite and insightful charge sheet.

The central problem, as Hitchens sees it, is that in the last 40 years or so the Right has moved to the Left, and the Left has moved onto a plinth of unmerited smugness. Scornful of marriage, Christianity, grammar schools, and many of the other institutions on which our slothful modern age now squats, the post-1968 generation today dominates British politics, media and education. The situation is comparable, Hitchens writes, to the final scene in George Orwell’s Animal Farm:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The results of this crossover are dire: lower standards of education and worse schools; rampant drug use (some of it inside and around school gates, as Hitchens describes in his 2012 book The War We Never Fought: The British Establishment's Surrender to Drugs); the destruction of much of our railway network, coupled with (as it were) the growing dominance of the motor car; an asphyxiating level of political correctness in matters of immigration, race, sexual relations and marriage; and, above all, a loss of the adversarial system of politics that helped make this small, windswept archipelago such a great power.

For regular readers of Hitchens’ Mail on Sunday blog this book will cover familiar ground. For teachers or pupils wondering how Britain came to be as it is, The Cameron Delusion is a powerful introduction.

Topics for teachers

English: semantics (e.g., difference between ‘racism’ and ‘racialism’ and how and when this change came about; the fatuous use of ‘fascism’ in modern political discourse, as first described by George Orwell in his essay ‘Politics and the English Language’).

History: Dr Beeching’s railway cuts; Britain’s adversarial political system (‘I do not know’, Hitchens writes, ‘whether this contest had its roots in the ancient hostility between Norman and Saxon, or in the English Civil War, or in the British class system’); the War in Iraq; the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 (much more to do with the USA’s support for Israel than many on the Left would like to believe, according to Hitchens); the rise and fall of Britain’s grammar schools.

Religious Studies: the decline of Christianity in Britain and the subsequent recent rise of Islam in its place.

Politics: the infamous “lunches” between ministers and journalists; Britain’s adversarial system and why it matters; Britain’s wars in Kosovo and Iraq; how Right has become Left in Britain and why it matters.

PSHE: whether granting homosexuals the right to marry strips heterosexual marriage of its privileges. 

By Ross (rgrainger@educationumbrella.com)


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