It appears as if a MPs from across the Conservative Party are determined to stop other people and other organisations from responding to our society or our history with a political perspective. They are not trying to prevent their influence from getting through, but they don’t want to allow other views to be expressed. A few years ago when the coalition Government set out to establish a Lobby Bill to try to stop corruption entering Parliament, the Conservatives managed to add two extra elements to the Bill and they slimmed down the lobby barrier for the professionals. They introduced a section that was focused on Trade Unions and another section regarding Charities. Ironically the charities have been set out to avoid politics for many years, but the MPs were wanting to prevent charities from appearing to ask too many difficult questions in the run up to an election. Moving forward a few years, there was a discussion a few weeks ago that involved John Hayes and Jacob Rees-Mogg on the day after Armistice Day and John Hayes raised his same concern again this week during a debate to focus on the National Trust 125 Anniversary. Here is a short aspect of his comment back on the 12th November.
Can we have a debate on how these charitable organisations’ purpose is being perverted by political posturing…defending our history and heritage is our era’s battle of Britain.
And then again on Tuesday when he stated
On that point, has not the National Trust become preoccupied by the political polemic and flirted with a number of ideological causes that are far from its core mission of preserving and promoting Britain’s heritage through the houses and land of which it is the custodian?
Back in November the response from Rees-Mogg was also very clear
I would like to reiterate the points made in the letter sent by my right hon. Friend the Culture Secretary to museums recently that they are not political campaigning institutions and they should not be intruding into today’s politics.
It is clear that John Hayes and Jacob Rees Mogg are not alone in their desire to prevent organisations from daring to raise questions and encourage people to pay attention to politics. Last week on the 11th December, Jonathan Lord who is the MP for Woking and who had asked a written question, got a response from Nick Gibb. The question from Jonathan Lord was
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to (a) monitor and (b) enforce schools’ compliance with the requirements on political impartiality in the provisions of the Education Act 1996.
The response from Nick Gibb was a bit more balanced in his comments than the question.
The law is clear that schools must remain politically impartial. School leaders and staff have a responsibility to ensure that they act appropriately, particularly in the political views they express. When political issues are discussed, schools must offer pupils a balanced presentation of opposing views and should not present materials in a politically biased or one-sided way. As Ministers have made clear, political impartiality in our education system is an incredibly important principle to uphold. The Government is committed to ensuring children and young people receive a balanced education. The Department is committed to enforcing this and it, and Ofsted, will not hesitate to act where necessary to help schools meet their legal duties.
However the reality is that we are under a great deal of challenge from this political party and whilst they are not all so strongly viewed as Hayes, Lord and Rees-Mogg the fact is that we need to encourage people to find out more about Politics as voting once every five years is only one small aspect of what our political engagement should be and indeed some of our understanding is being prevented from us by people like Hayes, Lord and Rees-Mogg far too often.