In Floating Voters Week we are presenting views from teachers who didn’t vote Labour at one or both of the last two general elections. Stuart Lock is a deputy headteacher in Waltham Forest who will be taking up a headteacher position in Cambridgeshire in September. He occasionally blogs at mrlock.wordpress.com. He considers himself to be to the left of Labour.
I don’t have much to say about the election. I voted Labour, but I’m not that bothered about Labour losing because I’m most interested in education. And Labour doesn’t appear to be. I haven’t voted since 1997, when I voted Labour. I wouldn’t ever vote Tory. This ‘floating vote’ is Labour or no-one.
A colleague at work said he was voting Tory for the first time due to education and because he didn’t want the era of reform to end. He’s not particularly political, but he recognises that kids in deprived areas like ours should be entitled to an academic curriculum. I said I was voting Labour despite the same reasons – I didn’t want the era of reform to end but there was enough in other areas to separate the Tories from Labour and give my vote to Labour. I supported much of what Gove stood for. I didn’t support the way he often went about it, and hence he made an enemy of too many people.
I thought that successive Shadow secretary of states for education lacked the gravitas or the knowledge to lead any kind of opposition to Gove. Stephen Twigg was lightweight. Andy Burnham and Ed Balls were only interested in perpetuating the orthodoxies or being opportunistic with their opposition. A vision with regard to education was secondary to political point scoring.
Then we had Tristram Hunt, who’d made noises suggesting he could be far stronger in the shadow role than his predecessors. He spoke about the role of knowledge in history, was academic himself and lectured part-time. Since he got the education brief though, Hunt has appeared to me to have turned into his predecessors. Opportunism over Trojan Hoax stories at the expense of schools, teachers and students combined with a desperation to please the orthodoxy of the educational establishment – those Gove had made enemies of by opposing but also shouting ad hominems (for example ‘the blob’) at. Hunt appears to not have any position on education that is not given to him by someone else in the party or amongst the establishment that Gove took on.
And through that, education wasn’t an issue in the election, but I thought Labour would probably undo much that I value that has been done – ensuring an academic curriculum even for the poorest, eliminating ‘gaming’, and increasing expectations. And hence, I’m not that bothered about Labour losing.