by MP John Hayes
In his poem ‘The English Flag’ Rudyard Kipling wrote ‘what should they know of England who only England knows?’
As a champion of the British Empire, Kipling was keenly aware that experience of other cultures often gives us a fuller appreciation of what is unique and special about our own way of life.
At that time it was taken for granted that everyone here was part of a shared British culture, deeply ingrained in every part of our society. If he were writing today though, Kipling would doubtless worry that many no longer have such an understanding. It is a cause for concern, not celebration, that some know far more about the habits and practices that prevail in the world beyond our shores than they do about their own country.
Recent appalling revelations about Islamic fundamentalists distorting the curriculum at six schools in Birmingham is a timely reminder of the need for constant vigilance in protecting the British way of life.
There can be no excuses for such people and no compromise with them. As the Prime Minister said, our values are inclusive, enabling everyone to play a full part in our society. They are the values of freedom under the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and, above all, respect for the British institutions that safeguard our wellbeing by maintaining our sense of shared belonging.
This week I met the Education Secretary Michael Gove to support his announcement that from September all schools in England will be required to actively promote British values – as good schools here in South Holland and the Deepings and elsewhere always have done. We should be proud of the values and traditions that have secured peace, freedom and democracy for us and for the generations of Britons that came before us. It is our duty to pass these values on, so that generations to come can draw inspiration from all that is special about the British way of life.