Michael Gove approves ‘creationism as a scientific theory’ as fit to run free schools

Which is as good a reason as any to point out that both are wrong.

Creationism (the theory that evolution did not happen and God’s creation of the world is “not just a theory but a fact”) is a dangerous doctrine that should not be taught in schools, for the very simple reason that it undermines the basis and integrityof all science education.  Now, I’m as stereotypical a liberal arts student as they come, but I do believe in teaching based on fact over superstition.

This evening, it appears, Michael Gove has mystifyingly given the go-ahead for three so-called free schools to be run by groups that subscribe to this doctrine.

In the run-up to the 2010 election I corresponded with constituents concerned that Reading East’s Tory MP was advocating the teaching of creationism in schools, at least as a matter of balance.  I disagreed, on the grounds that creationism has no basis in empirical evidence, and replied at the time that it was ‘ is highly dangerous for religious beliefs such as creationism to be taught in a way that blurs the boundaries with science.  This is, in brief, one of the reasons why I’m appalled at the way creationist benefactors have been able to become part of the City Academy structure, and is a major flaw of that structure.’

The scandal surrounding Emmanuel College in Gateshead, allowed by Labour to be taken over by fundamentalist Christians, lingers in the memory.  Whitehall may bleat about safeguards but in practice it is very hard indeed for the state to intervene retrospectively where a school is found to be teaching on such a basis – not to mention inefficient.  This is yet another case of Michael Gove veering well off the script; and perhaps it is time for him and his Tory colleagues to set out what are the limits of such superstition being taught in schools.  Starting in Reading East.

PS last post was my 200th.  That didn’t take long!

Strong and stable Government

It’s clear that Britain needs a strong and stable government that can govern in the national interest.

Liberal Democrat negotiators in Parliament have been working hard on some difficult and important talks. In forming a Government, our commitments to fairness and a stable economy are paramount, as is our commitment to overhaul Britain’s rotten political system. It is also – as my mailbox reminds me – important for politicians to enter this important time in a spirit of openness. While Nick Clegg and his negotiating team need support to conclude their discussions successfully, it is important that people are reassured that the talks are being pursued with the national interest in mind.

That’s why, at this stage, I believe there is no longer anything to be gained in pursuing the leads from a Labour Party that has decisively lost the election and which has been shown to be weak, divided and unable to submit to compromise on a number of key issues. An alliance with Labour, even if it included other parties, would be neither stable nor strong. The verdict of the electorate means that any Government that did not include the Conservative Party would be exceptionally weak.

It’s clear that it’s in the national interest that these discussions should not continue for longer than is absolutely necessary.

On electoral reform, Labour has shown in the past that it cannot be trusted. Therefore any offers it makes must be treated with considerable scepticism, however they may sound. A minority of its MPs are already publicly undermining attempts to reach consensus on this issue. While I do not believe the Alternative Vote system, promised as a referendum option by the Conservatives, is a sufficient step towards a system that reflects the will and choice of the electorate, it is nonetheless a step towards fairness and a significant offer by the Conservatives.

Given the urgent importance of achieving economic stability and stable government in the national interest, I hope the Liberal Democrats nationally will now move to swiftly conclude an agreement that will give the country the stable government we need, with significant safeguards to entrench fairness in that government. I hope we are now indeed in that final phase.

Transparent Government

Big Ben

Recently I got an e-mail about lobbying transparency from William Goring who runs iwishiknew.org.  William has written to all the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates in Reading East about the 38Degrees lobbying pledge which calls for a statutory register of lobbying activity.

Of the 4 candidates in Reading East that William wrote to, only 2 – including myself – actually signed the pledge (you can read all about it at his site), but in particular I was happy to point out that many years ago I was personally involved in campaigning and winning support within the Liberal Democrats for a compulsory register of lobbying activity. Thankfully, William thought that mine was:

… the best of a good bunch of responses.

But transparency in Government goes further than lobbying, especially considering the recent expenses scandal, and that is why I backed the Kelly Report on the reform of MPs’ expenses in full and why I openly pledged not to take a second home as Reading East’s MP, and why I also committed to publishing all my expenses.

I have also pledged to be a full-time MP with no second jobs or directorships…. can that be said of the others?