The majority of teachers are treating Leave voters with disdain and contempt, referring to them as “pond life” and “thick”, a politics teacher from north London has revealed.
Thursday’s shock EU referendum result delivered perhaps the largest peaceful uprising of the masses against the establishment, yet Britain’s mostly left-leaning teachers are not celebrating. Instead, they are siding with the establishment to dismiss the democratic result as having come about thanks to “uneducated” working class voters ignoring the better judgement of the so-called experts, a Leave-voting teacher has reported.
The idea that the popular vote to leave the EU may foment racist feeling is popular among Remain supporters, and teachers are no exception. The TES published an article just two days before polling day, written by a former union leader, warning that: “The Leave campaign has given permission for intolerance and racism in society.”
The author used words such as “xenophobic”, “nasty” and “racist” to describe the Leave campaign, adding: “It feels as though the Leave campaign and the media support for it have given permission for intolerance and racism in a way that makes the job of schools in upholding those values that much harder.”
But politics teacher Kevin Rooney, head of social science at Queens’ School in Bushey, North West London, has said that, in his experience, Leave supporters are more likely to be the victims of intolerance than its perpetrators.
Mr. Rooney defied the trend within education and voted to Leave – but he says his elation at seeing the result on Friday morning quickly turned to dismay that afternoon as, at an education conference attended by hundreds of teachers, he witnessed his fellow teachers write off the democratic will of the people.
Far from Brexit precipitating an outpouring of hate and racism, he says “the intolerance and anger I encountered was directed at people who voted Leave”.
Throughout the conference the contempt his fellow teachers showed for working class people in particular was laid bare:
“A teacher in the first debate I attended described the voters of Sunderland as “pond life” and proceeded to label working-class people in the north of England as “thick”. Many speakers at the event regularly departed from the topic at hand to publicly ridicule Leave voters as, among other things, ‘narcissistic, ignorant, selfish and racist’.”
Calling for unity, he asks: “surely teachers can do better than meeting intolerance with more intolerance? And showing such disdain for democracy is hardly sending a great message to our students. For years we have been urging pupils to take citizenship classes, to value democracy and to use their vote in elections. Yet the reaction of many teachers to this expression of democracy is to rage against the result and suggest that such fundamental questions should not be ceded to the great unwashed.”
His colleagues’ views are troubling in themselves, Mr. Rooney says, but he points to a much deeper problem running through the rhetoric:
“What is striking was that so many people within education now feel they can speak with such open contempt and disdain about Leave voters without fear of being challenged. Why is it now acceptable to talk about sections of the British public in such terms?
“The disconnect between the people and the political class is well-documented, but I fear we are witnessing a similar disconnect between teachers and many of the working-class communities we are supposed to serve. In my view, that is something that should worry us.”