EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

What is Brown’s legacy for Education in the UK? — “Gordon Brown proposes a comprehensive initiative to protect schoolchildren around the world.

In Commentary on May 14, 2014 at 11:57 am

This post by form British PM Gordon Brown caught my eye, not because I find it compelling on its own terms. After all, to say that one is against the kidnapping of children and/or depriving them of education is not exactly a difficult position to take. Of course saying and doing (as I’ve said before) are two different things, and Brown is to be commended for his work on this file…assuming the proper cause of the problem has been identified (a dubious assumption, to be sure) and good results flow from that work (things are getting dubiouser and dubiouser). Rather, what drew my attention was the word “war.” If you’ve been around for the past few decades you know that all kinds of wars have been declared on this, that, and the other social problem. Some of these wars have been declared on social programs themselves, especially those seen to be wasteful, overly generous (heaven forbid), and/or ineffective by some criteria. At any rate, this particular claim about a “war on education” got me to wondering about Brown’s legacy for education in the UK.

As with all powerful politicians of the last three to four decades (and probably extending even farther than this into the past), it seems likely to me that there are some who probably see Brown as the enemy of all things education*, particularly given that he had his fingers on the purse strings in his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He served in this role from 1997-2007 under PM Tony Blair, the Labour Party leader closely associated with the rather Orwellian “New Labour.” Now, I would normally recommend that you run away screaming from anything with “New” tacked on, especially when the “N” is rendered in capital letters. In this case, however, I invite you have a look at a variety of claims that amount (depending on your perspective as a reader) to an accusation of war on education crimes perpetrated by the government of which Brown was a powerful member. I do not necessarily endorse the views presented in any given article, and there are no doubt many, many more that would make for worthwhile reading. Beyond these, I’ll leave that reading and sense-making to you. Please feel free to comment and help me to make sense, too.

  1. Failed, failed, and failed again
  2. Education, Education, Education
  3. Tony Blair Biographer Says Government Education Policies Have Failed
  4. Going further? Tony Blair and New Labour Education Policies
  5. Why universities owe Tony Blair a debt of thanks

Original post by Brown: Gordon Brown proposes a comprehensive initiative to protect schoolchildren around the world. – Project Syndicate.

* In my home province of Alberta, the Education Minister is presently under siege from left, right, and parties of hard to pin down leanings alike (read this,  this, and this) for his involvement in something called Inspiring Education.


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