We’ve just heard on the grapevine that the education secretary, Nicky Morgan is to follow up her demand that ‘British values’ be taught in nurseries with a similar call to today’s youth services. Allegedly funding, if available, will be withdrawn from youth work projects, which promote social justice, equality, democracy, indeed any such expressions of ‘anarchic extremism’. In seeking to defend within the creche all that is great about Britain , not least its corrupt financial institutions and decaying welfare system, Morgan, is seeking to revive the Jesuit maxim, ‘give me the child until he/she is seven and I will show you the wo/man’. Evidently Morgan has her civil servants hard at work compiling a directory of ‘British values’ as approved by her government, alongside a list of extreme ideas and extremist groups. Immediate progress is proving tougher than expected as there’s been a bust-up about whether Peace is extreme and the Quakers extremist.
Indeed this quarrel has been mirrored within the Youth sub-group, where the Woodcraft Folk has been singled out for investigation on the grounds of its open character and belief in cooperation. Privately, it is claimed, Morgan admits that imposing values on ‘troublesome’ youth might be dodgy, but has taken comfort in the way that what’s left of youth services has in the main embraced the ideology of targeted, early intervention, the language of individualism, entrepreneurialism and competition. Whilst many youth workers opposing this trend have been made redundant there is a rumour she is irritated by the IDYW campaign’s insistence on youth work’s part in the making of active, critical citizens, conscious of ‘the common good’. Legal advice is being taken as to whether the notion of the ‘common good’ can be defined as ‘extreme’ when the market should rule. More on this when the civil servants have finished their endeavours, although this might not be completed before the next General Election