I admit an extreme bias against the Daily Mail. The newspaper that in pre-war Britain encouraged Oswald Mosely’s British Union of Fascists with the banner headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”.
These Black Shirt admirers of the Third Reich and Hitler’s fanatical anti-semitism were vigorously opposed in the UK and most famously in London’s Cable Street where trade unionists, communists and tenants pushed them back in a celebrated defeat.
In Germany Pastor Niemoller who initially supported Hitler wrote after his detention by the Nazis:
First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me band there was no one left to speak out for me.
The African American civil rights leader Angela Davis wrote about the onion of discrimination. Davis wrote that when you peel away the first layer of racism underneath is sexism, beneath that homophobia and so on.
History is unequivocal. Discrimination is deadly dangerous for all but the rich and powerful and their lackeys.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” said Edmund Burke.
So when Daily Mail columnist Kathy Gyngell describes the three women who lead the UK’s biggest teaching unions as the “ugly sisters” and the “three witches” she carries on the true tradition of that paper.
The three leaders, Christine Blower, Chris Keates and Mary Bousted opposed school privatisation, the reintroduction of the 11-plus and other measures that will turn the clock back to the bad old days.
There is much that could be improved in our primary and secondary education system but the coalition has demonised teachers and teaching assistants who oppose change for the worse.
The coalition closed down the school improvement programme and cut off Education Maintenance Allowance and of course the teachers' leaders spoke up forcefully because they know that the built environment matters and that some pupils do need help with bus fares to attend lessons and do well.
The fact that three articulate and capable women command the position of union leaders is cause for celebration. Their collective crime is to stand up for a universal education system based on structures and teaching methods that are evidence based. I know whose side I’m on.