It is now nearly 14 months since Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families, asked Graham Badman to conduct a review into Elective Home Education. I have obviously followed this story of democracy in action through the ensuing review process, the publication of it's report, the CSF Select Committee enquiry, the drafting of legislation as a result of the report, the Consultation on the proposed changes to statutory law, the introduction to the CSF Bill and its procession through the House of Commons. Next week we will see it move on to the House of Lords where it will be scrutinised and debated through three more readings until it passes back to our elected representatives either for final amendments and enaction, or dismissal in part or in full, or (as we hope) - to be lost in the pre-election bargaining process known as 'the wash up'.
The process by which the legislation we choose to live under is formed is something that, to my shame, I have hitherto known nothing much about. I believe I am in a very large majority in this. Some people may make it their business to keep an eye on the doings of ministers, but I think for most of us we never find out about how laws are made until we find ourselves or our families directly threatened by them. The progress of the Children, Schools and Families Bill, and in particular those sections of it pertaining to home education, from Review to Statute has been an education for many.
One commentator in The Times says, "Home educators have no faith in government after being treated so badly by Labour. How can this be rectified?"
My feeling is that it can't. Our initiation has been into a world of lies, half truths and new speak where an "independent reviewer" is one with a vested interest (but we hope nobody notices), and "vulnerable people" are those not under the state's direct control. The phrase "children's rights" is often laid solemnly before us as final proof that they have young people's best interests at heart. Meanwhile they are shushing and kicking away the very children whose rights they claim to be protecting. In New Labour's minds it seems that children's rights are whatever the government thinks is good for them, and have nothing to do with what the children themselves, or God forbid their parents, think.
It has been said that democracy is the rule of the mob, and the New Labour government has proved this in exemplary fashion. The presence of a comfortable majority in the House of Commons has meant that this mob, through use of the handy whip system, can get any piece of spurious ideology passed off as law without the inconvenience of having to persuade anyone it is necessary or even practicable. The ethos of the Blair/Brown administration is that all they need is a sheen of believability to fool the casual observer. Those who take the time to dig beneath to find the truth will be outnumbered and in some cases bullied and discredited. Whether it's 45 minutes to Mass Destruction, or home educated children being particularly vulnerable to abuse, New Labour will peddle lies as truths and twist facts to fit a different agenda, secure in the knowledge that not too many people will notice. And those that do? Well they're home educators aren't they? And we all know what they're like!