The moral panic the Tories and their friends in the press are whipping up over the issue of Muslims and education is about racism. There was no “Trojan horse” plot of Islamic fundamentalists to take over Birmingham schools.
But Tory education secretary Michael Gove sees Muslims, even primary school children, as a threat to some mythical vision of a British way of life.
The level of Tory hypocrisy at least is impressive. So while outpouring bigotry and bile they lecture us about “tolerance” being a British value that must be upheld.
There is a danger that the argument about religion in schools can resonate beyond those who sign up to the Islamophobic consensus years of scapegoating has created.
That is because the Tories are now using the notion that they support “secular” education, a view which many on the left subscribe to.
But secularism is a smokescreen.
In France the state banned school students wearing the hijab in schools in the name of secularism.
Many on the left supported this policy because they said religion had no place in schools. The effect was to increase racism and intolerance not decrease it.
There is no panic about symbols of Christianity in schools either in Britain or France.
In Britain today Muslims are routinely demonised and their right to express their faith is challenged.
This is not an abstract debate about the role of religion in society.
This is about a brutal Tory government that wants to scapegoat minorities and divide workers. They know that there is nothing like a moral panic to distract people from looking to the real causes of poverty and cuts they experience every day.
Socialists need to expose their racist agenda while pointing to a very different vision of education to anything on offer from the mainstream politicians.
Education should be about encouraging all children to reach their full potential and not simply about passing tests to become an efficient and compliant worker.
Education should be the responsibility of all society. It shouldn’t be hived off and privatised so schools can turn a profit for a few business tycoons.
We think that every child, regardless of wealth, religion, race, gender or ability should go a local school together.
Tories and Labour constantly use the education system as a political football to wage ideological battles.
Today they are united in targeting Muslims as the enemy while using the cover of secularism as cover for their racism.
We need to be united in opposing them.