Clegg promises he won’t let Gove scrub out Seacole


by Shantel Burns    
10:09 am - February 5th 2013

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Nick Clegg has pledged that he will “not allow” Michael Gove to remove 17th 19th century Crimean war nurse Mary Seacole as part of changes to the National Curriculum.

The Deputy Prime Minister told activists and campaigners within his own party that the removal of prominent historical figure Mary Seacole “will not happen” after leaked documents from the end of last month reported the Education Secretary’s plans to remove ‘the black Florence Nightingale’.

Gove hopes to favour more traditional white male figures such as William Churchill and Oliver Cromwell. A group of 24 MP’s from the three major parties have signed an Early Day Motion which declares themselves as ‘greatly alarmed’ by Mr Gove’s plans.

Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote (OBV) told The Independent that without the social history of people like Mary Seacole children would develop a “very distorted view of black people and of Africa”.

Woolley stated that Africa and its history was about more than just “extreme poverty…and slavery” and that it was “fantastically important” to have people such as Seacole taught in the classroom.

The Daily Mail was unsurprisingly supportive of Mr Gove, calling Mary Seacole’s story “poor history” and challenged the significance of her work by saying that it “has been spun out of all proportion” and her “achievements embellished in order to provide a role model”.

Simon Woolley told the Independent that he thought it was “very brave of the Deputy Prime Minister who has said he will no longer make pledges he knows he can’t keep. Let’s just hope that Gove listens to him.”

OBV have created a petition to keep Mary Seacole on the National Curriculum – which currently has over 35,000 supporters – and can be found here.

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About the author
Shantel Burns is a News Editor at Liberal Conspiracy, and a publishing and journalism student and current affairs nerd. Blogs at: ramblepolitics.blogspot.co.uk too.
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Reader comments


Nick Clegg has pledged that he will “not allow” Michael Gove to remove 17th century Crimean war nurse Mary Seacole as part of changes to the National Curriculum.

Hoo boy.

@1 Yeah I’m also wondering how he’s actually going to manage to instead purge three times as many Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum. That is what ‘pledge’ means when Nick Clegg uses it right? To do 3*The opposite of what’s been promised.

I’m all in favour of removing any references to the “17th century Crimean war nurse Mary Seacole” from the National Curriculum, not least because the Crimean War took place in the 19th century.

D’oh!

4. Chaise Guevara

“Gove hopes to favour more traditional white male figures such as William Churchill and Oliver Cromwell.”

I can’t stand Gove’s politicised, revisionist approach to education. But I think you’re grossly misrepresenting him here, unless you can provide a link to where he said he wants to pursue a white-male-based policy.

I’ve never heard of Seacole, btw, so either she wasn’t mentioned in my school, or she was a small enough part of a lesson that I’ve since forgotten. I don’t think my view of Africa is particularly distorted as a result.

3 – Yep, hence the weary sigh at the top…

4 – I can’t see how an absence of Mary Seacole from a curriculum could affect your view of Africa one way or the other, what with her not being from Africa, or African. She was a Scottish-Creole from Jamaica. What Simon Woolley is on about is anybody’s guess.

She was a reasonably high-profile figure in a relatively significant part of a not terribly important war. Far less important historically than, say Lord Palmerston. Probably less important on a ethno-social history front than Tom Molineaux (about whom pretty much nothing gets heard these days).

What’s odd about the whole thing is that there isn’t exactly a shortage of non-whites born in the British Empire who were of truly world-affecting importance…

I’m all in favour of removing any references to the “17th century Crimean war nurse Mary Seacole” from the National Curriculum, not least because the Crimean War took place in the 19th century.

She was ahead of the times in so many ways.

Clegg’s pledged it? Oh man, she’s GONE.

Who is William Churchill?

What a nastly little brownshirt reactionary tory bully boy Gove is. But what do you expect from a puppet of Murdoch?

Murdoch and the 1% want to take over public education and health. They see a big pile of money and like the vultures they are, they want it for themselves. They also want to destroy the public sector unions. Which is one of the main aims of Goves free schools and private hospitals. Murdoch has two of his loyal puppets in Gove & the equally creepy, dishonest Hunt in the departments that will achieve this goal.

On both sides of the Atlantic the Right wings agenda is to destroy the publica sector unions. Making it easier to steal more of tax payers money for themselves,and to defund both Labour and Democratic parties. A classic double wammy. And they get to do this without a overall majority. Lib dem voters working in the public sector must be so delighted their politicians are kicking them in the teeth, while appearing in court to plead guilty of perverting the course of justice. And Cleggs word is about as honest as his speeding colleague.

Fascism in all it’s right wing glory as former employees of big business get into govt and then start looting the treasury to give to their corporate masters.

10. Shatterface

Who is William Churchill?

A noted ethnologist – do they teach you nothing these days?

11. Shatterface

Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?

“Nick Clegg has pledged that he will “not allow” Michael Gove to remove 17th century Crimean war nurse Mary Seacole as part of changes to the National Curriculum.”

lol.

Gove has more talent in his little finger than you silly lickspittles.

On both sides of the Atlantic the Right wings agenda is to destroy the public sector unions.

Unions full stop you mean, here’s some choice notes from the builders blacklist:

“ex-shop steward, definite problems, no go”

“Gone from being a normal good electrician to being squarely in the electrical union camp”

“troublemaker is politically motivated”

“A Dundee hillwalker, writer and poet Syd Scroggie, who lost his sight and his legs while serving in the armed forces, found himself on a blacklist because he wrote to the press congratulating Dundee City Council for awarding the freedom of the city to Nelson Mandela”

Also worth bearing in mind that ‘troublemaker’ was code for ‘raised health and safety concerns’.

Gove is the most odious politician in world history.

I had never heard of Mary Seacole until about 10 days ago, yet the universities of Salford, Birmingham and Brunel apparently have buildings named after this obscure, if benevolently inclined, person.

Her elevation to the national curriculum is evidence of the imbecility and absolutism of a certain section of the ethnic left, not least its wish to revel in perpetual victimhood. And also evidence of a bizarre inversion of anti-racism: that somebody should be considered important largely because of the colour of their skin.

If Mary Seacole had been white, then the people at Operation Black Vote would have ignored her. And, yet, it seems she was white – three quarters white. And Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Oliver Cromwell, Michael Faraday, Chareles Darwin, Isaac Newton etc were only marginally less black than Mary Seacole was.

@ Chaise

I can’t stand Gove’s politicised, revisionist approach to education.

I can’t stand anyone’s politicised, revisionist approach to education. Especially to history.

The danger is that as long as education is controlled by the state and government has the power to shape the curriculum, our kids can be indoctrinated with any old claptrap.

As they are being.

@ Tory
Gove is a lickspittle for his billionaire bribe masters…

Why should we NOT learn about people from all walks of life, and what they did? Surely history is about where our species was in the past? Instead of triumphalist trumpeting of only a tiny subset of people you like because they were that eras scum that rose to the top?

Who would you prefer us to learn about? What would you suppress in the name of your own kind of political correctness?

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 pagar

“I can’t stand anyone’s politicised, revisionist approach to education. Especially to history.”

Agreed.

“The danger is that as long as education is controlled by the state and government has the power to shape the curriculum, our kids can be indoctrinated with any old claptrap”

Thing is, that’s equally true if education isn’t controlled by the state. More so, in fact, because at least if the state decides that kids should learn lies, the people have the opportunity to put pressure on it.

@ Pagar

In many of the old private boarding schools the elite sent their children, they were taught that people like Kitchener was a hero of the British Empire. Not once were they taught about stuff like this…

http://angloboer.com/crimes.htm

So like Chaise says, it is wrong to think education of our children shouldn’t be taught by the state. There is no democratic control of what is taught in private schools. Given the way children were all too frequently treated in such schools, I also question the motivation of those parents too…

But will Clegg allow Gove to scrub out the Opium Wars, over the inalienable right of British traders to sell opium in China to the Chinese, and General Dyer and the massacre at Amritsar in 1919?

20 – I find it very hard to believe that either the Opium Wars or the Amritsar massacre are integral parts of the history curriculum.

Why are you so het up about Amritsar by the way? It was a very long way from being the worst atrocity carried out in the Empire.

Are Simmon Woolley and OBV to be taken seriously.
It’s the Lee Jasper end of divisive race politics I had thought. Simon Woolley once stated in the Guardian that he thought that ”most non black people in the UK thought that black people were inferior”.
I think they are almost his exact words.
Even if it was true, is it the kind of thing you’d want to say in a national newspaper?
Like highlighting perhaps that ”most black people” in the UK are homophobes or something. It’s best not said in that way.
As for Mary Seacole and Black History Month, is it not patronising and even divisive too? I saw how at Chapeltown library in Leeds last Black History Month, they put out a table whth books like this one on it.
When We Ruled.

”When We Ruled” … when we the black people ruled.
How silly and dumbed down. And divisive I think.

@22 – tbf, I doubt Chapletown libary has that many patrons who are sober enough to read.

@ 21

Oh I dunno, the Chinese view the opium wars as being very important. In fact many Chinese people were rather offended that Cameron wore a poppy when he visited China in the run up to remembrance day a few years back. Apparently they viewed it as a symbol of Chinese humiliation at the hands of the western powers and asked him not to wear it – he of course – being an expert in diplomacy and tact – told them to fuck off much to the delight of the Daily Bigot.

And if it bothers the Chinese, then it should bother us. At least if we want affordable laptops so that we can make inane comments on Liberal Conspiracy. Fortunately, the Chinese don’t seem to have quite the same attitude to trade that we did when we were being represented by drug dealer Napier.

The Amritsar massacre was so outrageous that both Churchill and Asquith condemned it, describing it as “monstrous” and “One of the worst outrages in the whole of our history”. I’d reckon that this is pretty apt when you consider that in 10 minutes British troops managed to murder anything up to 1,500 unarmed civillians after firing about 1,650 rounds into a crowd after having blocked the exits. O’Dwyer, the butcher who gave the orders was later assasinated in London by a sikh who’d witnessed the massacre – oh dear, what a pity, never mind. What goes around comes around, or as Indians might say “that’s karma for ya”. It’s worth poining out that the sikh guy could have killed more, but he was being careful not to shoot women – something that hadn’t bothered O’Dwyer. Yeah, the British Empire did do worse things, but nevertheless, Amritsar was pretty bad by any standards.

As for Clegg, I take anything he says with a very large pinch of salt.

And Gove? Well, I just hope someone will lock him in a cupboard and forget where they put the key before he comes up with the bright idea of putting butcher O’Dwyer and drug dealer Napier on the bloody national curriculum under the chapter heading “Great heroes of British foreign policy”!

@22 damon.

Thanks for the link, that book looks pretty interesting.

I’ll have to get a copy.

@19 Dissident

Interesting link. I’ll never look at Corporal Jones in the same way again.

Wibble: “The Amritsar massacre was so outrageous that both Churchill and Asquith condemned it, describing it as ‘monstrous’ and ‘One of the worst outrages in the whole of our history’. ”

And a grateful British public – prompted by the Morning Post, destined to be merged with the Daily Telegraph – donated a purse of £29,000 to General Dyer on his retirement from the army he had so conspicuously disgraced. Rudyard Kipling was a notable donor. Let’s hope these illuminating incidents will be incorporated in Gove’s approved history syllabus for schools.

24 – sure, there are lots of important events in history. But given that the British Empire as a whole (first, second or third) isn’t a part of the national history curriculum, it’s hardly a surprise that Amritsar and the Opium Wars aren’t there.

27 – If the history curriculum is broad enough to cover the history of British India, there’d be no-one more delighted than me. Hell, lets make it all-encompassing – I want the ins and outs of the Caprivi Strip to be the talk of the playground. The Fashoda Instrument should be a part of key stage 2.

@ 27 Bob b

It would be nice to think that would happen… but the as the new curriculum will probably be sponsored by the Telegraph I doubt it.

Japan is an awful warning of what happens when politicians and governments become engaged in deciding the text in school history textbooks – to the supreme annoyance of neighbouring countries . As governments have changes, there has been much rewriting to do in presenting “comfort women”, what really happened in Nanjing in 1937, and the barbarous experiments conducted during WW2 on prisoners to test endurance.

The press has raised the question of whether Japan’s new nationalist-minded government, with prime minister Abe, will lead to another rewriting of school history texts.

28 – Fashoda Incident ahem.

Gove will be doing Britain and British education a serious disservice if we were to become one of those countries where only government approved history is taught in schools.

33. the a&e charge nurse

Can we not strike Gove from the history books? – hang on, make that Gove AND Clegg.

As has been said, “History is a tool used by politicians to justify their intentions” (Ted Koppel)

Ir has also been said that: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana: The Life of Reason

I don’t normally pick people up on spelling, but in the title it should be ‘scrub’, not ‘scrube’ (which confused me at first).

Well, for what it’s worth she’s still there:

Britain’s social and cultural development during the Victorian era, including:
? the changing role of women, including figures such as Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, George Eliot and Annie Besant.

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/n/national%20curriculum%20consultation%20-%20framework%20document.pdf

A good teacher will not rigidly stick to the NC. They never will and never have.
Also why not have positive black and female role models.
I cannot see the Tories problem. She was independent, non state, Christian, lover of the empire, and hardworking. Also her story is an interesting component of the Crimean War.
Gove, beloved by the likes of Nick Cohen and Martin Bright is a political opportunist. He loves a sound bite. He would love to be PM. Unfortunately he has a manner and face that reminds people of that student in the corner that rats (or dobs which is the modern vernacular) on others.
I imagine his acolytes have that unfortunate demeanour.

38. So Much for Subtlety

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 pagar

“I can’t stand anyone’s politicised, revisionist approach to education. Especially to history.”

Agreed.

So you’re both supporting the removal of this irrelevant addition to the national history curriculum which is only there due to a politicised and revisionist approach to modern history education?

39. Chaise Guevara

@ 38 SMFS

“So you’re both supporting the removal of this irrelevant addition to the national history curriculum which is only there due to a politicised and revisionist approach to modern history education?”

I don’t actually care either way. But “revisionist” doesn’t mean changing from covering one topic or another, it’s a nice word for “lying”. Any topic of choice could be called politicised, but fudging the facts to suit one’s agenda is more political than most. So I don’t accept these terms RE Seacole (based on what I currently know; if they’re falsely canonised her I’ll be all for chucking her out).


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