The problem with ‘British values’: another case in point

It is amazing how the nebulous, amorphous and still, as yet, ill-defined ‘British values’ continues to be pushed as though they contain enforceable boundaries. Nevertheless, it has quickly become clear that the concerns of the LGBT+ lobby are at the heart of the drive. It bears saying, the concern isn’t for the rights of LGBT+ people per se but enforcing the strident, politically virulent views of lobby groups such as Stonewall.

That is, so long as the words and views they deem ‘homophobic’ aren’t coming from Muslims, which is ironic given the whole ‘British values’ drive came about because a certain section of Islam kept encouraging its followers to kill crowds of people. Who knew mass murder wasn’t a British value? Good job we’re getting that one covered. Apparently when a handful of jihadists think suicide bombings and mass hit-and-runs are a proper outworking of the Muslim faith, it is reasonable to insist that Christians, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs affirm that homosexuality is great and gay marriage is just the best. It stands to reason because Christians, for example, aren’t going round killing anybody so forcing them to insist homosexuality is not sinful – and to endorse it contrary to their 2000 year old doctrinal stance – is bound to stop Salafi-Wahabbi Islamists from blowing up buses and the like. Problem solved.

In truth, barring ‘killing people is bad’ and ‘gay marriage is great’, the government has consistently failed to define British values at precisely the same time as they are being legally enforced through Extremism Disruption Orders and other avenues. This ultimately means the government can bring anyone to book for just about anything on the grounds of not upholding ‘British values’, which they seem to define as the opposite of whatever happens to irk them at any given moment or whatever appears to be politically expedient.

Of the ‘British values’ they have made clear, nobody seems willing to address the elephant in the room: the majority of people throughout British history have specifically not seen gay marriage as a British value. Indeed, just a few short years ago, the idea of gay marriage was politically unthinkable and not endorsed by the majority of Brits. Not many of our Great British icons would have endorsed homosexuality at all, let alone gay marriage. How can something be defined as a British value – irrespective of how good and upright it may or may not be – when you would struggle to find almost any historic British support for the value in question? It feels a bit like deciding sushi is a Great British delicacy simply because it is now available. It either means the LGBT+ agenda is not a fundamental ‘British value’ or it means, historically, even as recently as a decade ago, the majority of Brits didn’t subscribe to the very values that apparently define us as British.

Of course, the government will point to the fact that they have defined British values. They are: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. But these are clearly quite loosely defined concepts and the government doesn’t feel any great need to abide by them. For example, OfSTED have just punished a Jewish school for failing to endorse the LGBT+ agenda. The Telegraph report:

Last month, Vishnitz Girls School failed its third inspection in less than a year, with Ofsted complaining that pupils are not “taught explicitly” about LGBT issues.

It would appear the school was praised for its ‘good subject knowledge’ and ‘high-quality classroom resources’ yet because it determined not to endorse the LGBT agenda it was failed. Seemingly respect for Jewish orthodoxy doesn’t come under the remit of ‘mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs’.

This comes off the back of Dr Joanna Williams comments in the last week that LGBT policies in schools are doing more to confuse children than to help them. She states:

We are increasingly reminded that schools are struggling financially. Yet the time, effort and money that goes into producing and monitoring Transgender Policies is out of all proportion to the tiny number of trans children currently in British schools.

She went on to note:

However politically well intentioned teachers may be, criticising the views and values of home vastly alters the remit of the school away from education and towards the promotion of a distinct political outlook.

It does rather seem the British value of democracy is only important when democratic elections and results happen to go our way (see here). The rule of law only matters if you have a chance to sit down in government (cf. Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland or the SNP 79 Group in Scotland). Individual liberty is permissible unless you run a B&B or you happen to bake cakes. Tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs seemingly doesn’t extend to Jewish Schools, street preachers, or readings from the Christian Bible in chapel. Indeed, it would just be simpler if the government stopped calling them ‘British values’ and instead called them ‘agreeing with our secularist agenda’.

The problem is that the British values drive hits the wrong target. The government insist they wish to tackle ‘extremism in all its forms’, which seems foolish given that the primary extremist issue is violent Islamism. Rather than tackle the root of the actual issue, the government are now insisting on applying ‘British values’ across the board for fear of being called out as Islamophobic. In the process, British values neither encapsulate what Britain stands for nor are they equitably applied. Instead, we are seeing millions of pounds and countless hours spent enforcing ideological political positions while ignoring the traditional, liberal, British value that parents are the arbiters of the best interests of their own children.

Wouldn’t it be great if rather than teaching our children what they must think, our schools went back to teaching children how to think? I’m sure my grandfather would be delighted to know that he fought the war to win me the freedom to send my children to a school that will call me an ‘extremist’, undermine our family values and ultimately tell us that we must assent to government prescribed orthodoxy or face the consequences. If the government really believe in their so-called British values, it would be terrific if they actually followed through on their values of individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. Thus far, I’m struggling to see them.

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