Pollyworld: a glimmer of light at last? Nope.

No, don’t get too excited. Oh, you weren’t.

Remember the Polly Conundrum: ‘Is she a moron or a liar?’ Hm, tricky.

Polly Toynbee, rousing the comrades to continue flogging their dead horse fighting the class war, writes without a trace of either irony or self-reflection:

The postwar years did see an exceptional upward surge, as a great increase in white collar and middle managerial jobs changed a two-thirds working class society into two-thirds middle class: it’s worth noting it happened not via education but the changing labour market.

‘Not via education’? Oops, missed the critical link, there, Pol. See, in that expanding labour market, the new, better-paid, white-collar, ‘middle-class’ jobs increasingly went to the millions of people educated in the ’11-plus’ education system of the 1944 Education Act, the system which you and your privately-educated and relatively wealthy friends so hated and still do, and which your party ‘of the working people’ abolished purely for ideological ‘class war’ reasons. And ‘up the workers’, you might say, because look what happened next:

Then social progress stopped a study comparing the fate of children born in 1958 with those born in 1970… 

… (almost all of them forced into your mate Tony Crosland’s comprehensives)…

… shows the latter more hermetically sealed into the social class of their birth.

No! Well, fancy that.

Is this the law of unintended consequences swinging into play? Or could it be (perish the thought) that the aim was not merely to épater la bourgeoisie (that comes later… now, in fact) but erode them to destruction, ‘via education’?  Cynically and nihilistically, to replace the increasingly educated and socially mobile (translation: ‘increasingly liberated’) lower- and middle-middle classes with an unemployable lumpenproletariat, a rioting, looting, business-destroying, terrifying, socialism-dependent advance guard of the violent revolution-in-England (sic) so long the objective of the Hard Left, as dreamed of by both Marx and Lenin?

We need the real, nation-wide terror which reinvigorates the country and through which the Great French Revolution achieved glory.

No, not Polly. I doubt she’s that brave. That was Lenin.

And remember that it was the evil idealist Lenin, not the cynical opportunist Blair, who coined ‘education, education, education’:

  •  Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. 
  • Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.

And – we’re back in the room. Here’s Stephen Pollard in the Times (no £)

The proportion of public-school-educated undergraduates at Oxford was, for instance, on a steady downward path after the Second World War. In 1946 65 per cent of male students were from independent schools. By 1967 only 53 per cent of male students were from public schools. The pattern was even clearer with women, the share falling from 57 per cent of arts undergraduates in 1946 to 39 per cent in 1967. For all the problems with technical and secondary modern schools, grammar schools did a fine job of lifting children out of poverty and into opportunity. Yet today, our comprehensive system has one of the worst rankings in the developed world.

And still Toynbee can’t or won’t see it. That Polly Conundrum just keeps on giving.

But, of course, she is casting her pearls before swine. Well, all right, Guardian readers. She doesn’t matter much to anyone else, outside Labour royalty and the BBC, who incidentally have given her another series. On ‘class’. Hahahahaha. Now, aren’t we all looking forward to that? I know everyone at the BBC is.

Me, I’m torn between the old rage and… pity.

An old lady I know is entering her dotage and a certain bewilderment is overtaking her. Kind confusion shields her from the terrible truth that she and her friends were not only wrong but guilty of blighting the lives of millions of children, and the lives of their children, too. She plucks at our sleeves and breathes her rank breath into our faces as she insists that we look at her faded snaps. She spends hour after hour on her insane and incomprehensible scribblings which she is leaving to posterity which, will of course, vindicate her. 

She warbles the old rebel songs to anyone with the patience to listen and says Billy Bragg could almost be her son if it were not for his dreadfully common accent. She dotes on that handsome Marcus Brigstocke and shouts at people to pipe down when he’s on the telly. Most of the time she just hobbles around muttering, ‘historical inevitability’, and ‘dialectical materialism,’ but no-one pays any attention any more.

We all hope she’ll be with us for years yet, making us laugh with her delightfully batty encouragement to fight the Kaiser evil Thatcher what’s his name… Eton… no, it’ll come… give her a minute…


Something like this appears at my own blog.

6 comments for “Pollyworld: a glimmer of light at last? Nope.

  1. August 31, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Well, all right, Guardian readers. She doesn’t matter much to anyone else, outside Labour royalty and the BBC, who incidentally have given her another series.

    The galling thing is the influence such as her have wielded through a piece of drivel here, a piece of drivel there, appearing to have the stamp of truth to it but as you’ve just fisked, a load of codswallop when dissected.

    The demise of education has been an ideological demise – part of the broader society, yes but also able to be sheeted home to inside-educational reasons as well, from curriculum research through to the inexorable placing of Guardianista types in key recruiting roles and thought leader roles.

    The open plan education of the 70s didn’t affect the 11 plussers but did hit the next lot. What is not conceded by Tories is that this process was going on, either under their noses or with their collusion and it was not called out nationally until the results began to accrue.

    But is was going on steadily and the wrong people were being feted – Dewey, Piaget, Neill of Summerhill, all the child-centrists and then the spelling and grammar suppressing PTB in education began their “thou shalt not”. Standards were mocked and no young teacher dared to question the new orthodoxy.

    Far from it. The young enthusiastically embraced the new “child-centred” claptrap, which essentially said that children could determine their own educational outcomes.

    This could go on forever so best to stop here.

    • August 31, 2011 at 11:47 am

      I started to respond to you, James, but you did it again. Provoked me to get it off my chest. So I did, but ➡ elsewhere. 😈

  2. August 31, 2011 at 7:06 am

    I escaped the worst of the demise of Grammar Schools, having passed the 11-plus I found the local Grammar turned into a comprehensive by the time I arrived for the 1st year. Luckilly some of the best old teachers stayed on and I benefitted from their instruction for 7 years as civility retreated up the hill and the rest of the school turned into a jungle.

    As for Polly and her class war/social mobility mania. She would have gone down a storm in the Hitler Youth whose first priority when indoctrinating new mini-nazis was the destruction of class conciousness. Everybody was equal in Hitlers Germany (not).

  3. steng
    August 31, 2011 at 10:33 am

    The key to the failure of education was someone’s half-baked (wait, no, it never even got near an oven) idea of mixing the non-achievers in with the ones who could do the work and who understood. In the brave new world of leftwing nuttery the idea took hold. The theory — and all theory is perfect in socialism — was that the ones at the top would magically encourage the lower orders to do better.

    “Hey, young ruffian, come and join me as we together explore the delights of calculus.”

    It was, of course, sheer bollocks. The net result was the feral layabouts dragged down the high-achievers and as there were more of them than the ones at the top, they simply threatened the ‘toffs’ and ‘snobs’ and ‘brainboxes’ until those kids stopped doing well. After all, nothing makes the scum feel better than threatening someone, and they were pretty good at that.

    “Oi, nerd, put that fooking book down or I’ll thump you.”

    At the same time the provisional wing of the Socialist Claptrap instituted plans where teachers would ‘talk’ to the brats and not ever discipline them. As all were victims, so they needed to be soothed and praised for not spitting on the floor. But if they did, hey, it was their culture and none shall raise their hand or voice to the poor misunderstood darlings.

    I went to a secondary modern school in the early sixties because I failed the 11 plus… so it goes, but I ended up in the top stream at the sec mod where even in those unenlightened times we could see that out of the six classes in our year, things were pretty hopeless down in the bottom layer. But there was discipline then as it hadn’t been beaten out of teachers, so mayhem had yet to appear.

  4. August 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    “Is she a moron or a liar?”

    Who can tell? She sells confirmation bias to those prepared to buy it.

  5. September 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    yeah that were very fine for me….

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