Most people are “for” the environment.We are in favour a range of initiatives which are designed to reduce the disastrous effects of global warming on our planet.For many people, I suspect, “Green” is good and Green politicians and cuddly and nice and harmless.Perhaps, though, we have all been fooled!
As I consider how I will cast my vote on 3rd May, a key issue for me is the Education policy of all the political parties, in particular their attitudes towards Catholic schools.This is where the Greens lose my vote.For they have published in their election manifesto – in a tiny sentence tucked away at the very bottom of page 9 – a commitment to “move towards the integration of state-funded religious schools into non-denominational education”.In other words, they intend to abolish almost 400 Catholic schools in Scotland or to force them to become private schools.And all of this because – the Greens claim – schools across the world have become ‘secularised’. They should try telling that to the 40 million students who attend 250,000 Catholic schools across Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere.
The Scottish Greens’ policy is all the more puzzling, given the success story of Catholic schools in Scotland, well supported by evidence collected by Her Majesty’s Inspectors.Do they not wonder why the best 4 HMI reports published this year have all been on Catholic schools?Do they believe that it is merely a coincidence that these and many other Catholic schools punch well above their weight when it comes to leadership, ethos, achievement, support for pupils and so on?Do they not wonder why about 20% of the school population choose to enrol in Catholic schools when they are so many other choices available to them?
We live in an age when some people may think that it is time to let go of Catholic schools in order to ensure a ‘more integrated’ society.Such thinking is naive in the extreme.Those who lead the attacks on Catholic schools will not be happy until they have outlawed religious faith from public life, until religious education is merely a historical study and religious observance in schools has been replaced by a secular “time for reflection” in the place of prayer and liturgy.Their intention is to impose their own secular stance on the rest of us – and this, ironically, all in the name of “freedom” and “equality and diversity”.The educational, social and cultural consequences of such a policy would be disastrous for Scotland, not just for the Catholic community.
Now you might say, “So what?”After all, the Greens are a minority party who are not going to be forming an administration.Should they not be allowed to indulge themselves in such gesture politics which will never come to fruition? Yet, given the nature of the voting system, they could obtain enough seats to place them in a strong bargaining position to commit a coalition government to abolishing Catholic schools in the lifetime of a new Parliament!
If you vote Green in this election – be very clear on this – you could be voting for an end to Catholic schools in Scotland.