The brutal killing of an off-duty soldier outside Woolwich Barracks in south-east London two days ago has shocked many. But some have seen an opportunity in the aftermath to push their agenda, and demonstrating that Grant “Spiv” Shapps is not the only right-leaning purveyor of dodgy motahs, the loathsome Toby Young has fetched up with his briefcase full of samples.
Someone with zero military experience
Tobes is, to no surprise at all, using the killing as an excuse to push his favourite subject, that of free schools. “How do we stop young British Muslims falling into the hands of Jihadis? A new, military-style free school in Oldham is a good start” he proclaimed. Yes, roll up Ladies and Gents, honest Tobes Young has the answer to all your Daily Mail induced fear of those who follow The Prophet.
So what is this wonderful new school? Well, it’s going to be called The Phoenix Free School, and the blurb says it will “combine all the best features of a traditional grammar school or an independent school with the military virtues of loyalty, commitment and honour ... Our teachers will embody the Army’s core values of moral courage, self-discipline, respect for others, integrity and loyalty”.
What’s more, the headmaster will be a serving officer who is both British and Muslim. So that’s going to prevent its pupils from going wrong, then, is it? Well, I hate to rain on Tobes’ parade, but this military stuff might not be all it’s cracked up to be. For starters, National Service in the UK didn’t straighten out Donald Neilson (the “Black Panther”) and made no impession whatever on the Kray Twins.
And when we come to followers of Islam, the story is no better. Remember the “Beltway Sniper Attacks”? John Allen Muhammad, the main perpetrator, served for seven years as a US soldier, including the first Gulf War. He also became a trained marksman. Military discipline didn’t stop him putting his training to lethal use, and at least ten people lost their lives as a result.
Moreover, achieving officer rank is not proof against someone losing it and going on a shooting rampage, as witness the Fort Hood multiple killings in 2009, apparently carried out by Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army Major who had been working at the base as a psychiatrist. Thirteen died during the rampage. And there’s no great difference between military values either side of the North Atlantic.
Maybe Tobes should stop and think first, but no: “If the Phoenix is successful, Michael Gove plans to use it as a model for a chain of military-style free schools that will be rolled out over the next few years” he gurgles enthusiastically. So that’s the promise of more taxpayers’ money being sprayed up the wall on the off-chance that another idea disliked by the educational establishment will make everything better.
And if it goes pear-shaped, Tobes won’t be around to catch any crap for it.