Speaking Against Insidious Plans to "Teach EU" in Schools

Friday, 23 October, 2015



Thank you Chairman.  Well, as colleagues know I do try my best to be cooperative in this committee, and see its added value in many cases, but I profoundly question the value of this, and I profoundly question and indeed resent the conflation of Euroscepticism with zenophobia and extreme nationalism, they are not all the same thing.  It is entirely legitimate in this house and across the continent for people to have scepticism about some of the activities of the European Union, which is very well grounded in many cases. The sense of assumption that I’ve heard that teaching EU in schools is somehow about teaching about how good the EU is, is exactly the problem with this report and exactly the danger of it.  Information about the European Union is something that is to be welcomed for people to make critical judgements about it, propaganda about how great the European so called project is, is anything but and is extremely unwelcome.  I’ve heard a lot about the political project, I’ve heard a lot about how scepticism is somehow a bad thing and we should try and teach people not to be sceptical.  That’s an assault on their democratic rights and their freedoms as citizens to make their own assumptions.  And I particularly question this assumption that the more people learn about the EU the more wonderful they’ll think it is and the only reason there’s euroscepticism around is that people don’t understand how fantastic everything we do at all times and in everyway possibly is.  It’s not a competence for the European Union to dictate educational curricula to its member states.  Member states should have civic education, it’s already taught in the United Kingdom, and it is increasingly stressed by both main political parties.  But the spectacle of MEPs saying what textbooks should be like across the Continent is just breathtaking.  So, yes, I welcome opportunities for different member states to share their best practice and learn from one another.  But from what I’ve heard doesn’t represent best practice at all. Certainly something like Europe for Citizens doesn’t represent any kind of best practice, and, I’m particularly alarmed by the comments about Erasmus+. Because Erasmus+ is a project that when I’m in the right sort of mood, I actually use as a reason for Britain staying in the European Union.  It’s a positive project, it’s a positive project that nearly everybody agrees adds value, does useful things. But turning into what has been suggested here would turn it, instead of being one of my main planks for staying in the EU, into another reason to leave.  And I’d Finally, just ask why there is this assumption that one form of nationalism is bad and another form of nationalism is good? So apparently it’s a bad to be a nationalist in the sense of believing in your own country but it is a good thing to believe in another fictional entity that tries to become a country called the European Union.  So why is one sort of nationalism a good nationalism and another sort of nationalism a bad nationalism? And what about the rest of the world? And why don’t we actually try to be more outward looking?  Educational Competence is a line in the sand.  It’s an area that is not an EU competence and therefore in terms of best practice fine, but in terms of this sort of mission creep it is not acceptable to be put into any sort of regulations, any sort of law, and, is something the United Kingdom simply would not do in any case. Thank you.