Certainly Andrew Neather is using the Guardian to deny that it was the main aim. And I don't see the Labour Government as a sort of Doctor Evil, cackling over their latest scheme to ruin the country. It's not that simple, that cartoony.
But Neather has already admitted that:
- Mass migration to the UK was a "deliberate policy"
- It "especially" suited "middle-class Londoners"
- "A driving political purpose" was the fostering of multiculturalism
- He (Neather) had "a clear sense that the policy was intended... to rub the Right's nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date", even though he himself thought that was going too far.
From what I've seen, read and heard, the political parties do relish giving each other one in the eye; perhaps that's why they can't clearly see the other consequences of their actions. And we need to be aware that driving motives are often not disclosed, even if they may have appeared in "earlier drafts". Indeed, the unstated motivation is often more important than the overt.
Education has always been a pit for these cockerels to fight in. In the nineteenth century, it was the Board Schools competing with, and seeking to supplant, the Church schools (and abolishing school prayers and hymns within my teaching career); in the twentieth, it was comprehensive versus grammar (since no-one dared go so far as to destroy the private schools). And, like Mao's Red Guard ripping up the bourgeois turf of parks, and Mao's peasants obediently exterminating the crop-eating birds (only to see the crop-eating insect population explode, disastrously), they bring in the reign of destructive ignorance and irrational hatred.
It is especially destructive in teaching, where individuals and society live with the consequences for generations.
When I came to Birmingham to train as a teacher, my first 3-week placement was at the George Dixon Grammar School. The boys' and girls' grammars had just amalgamated, and in the staffroom the women teachers still had their tea expensively served to them, whereas the male staff ran a separate, cheaper tea swindle. Two boys who gave another student teacher a mildly tough time (by the standards of that time) were instantly taken off the entry for English O-level as a punishment.
These decent, hard-working people could not have foreseen that within a few years, the Labour-controlled City Council would first build a new comprehensive smack on their cricket pitch (one of the finest in the Midlands), then amalgamate the grammar school with it, and then generally mismanage it with all sorts of fashionable political initiatives until it went into what is known as "special measures". An old-fashioned grammar-school-and-Cambridge-educated toughie, Robert Dowling (now Sir Robert) was brought in and the climb back began. I was interviewed by him shortly after he took over: the place was all echoes and empty rooms. 200 years of accumulated effort, expertise, tradition and dedication had come to this; for no good reason, and some bad ones.
I'm sure Andrew Neather is a decent chap - but both he and those he has worked with need to recognise that good intentions aren't enough. More and more, I see this government (and some before it) as resembling Homer Simpson, pushing a button on the nuclear generator console just to see what happens, and rewarded by the sight of people suddenly fleeing a wall of flame in the corridor.
You need, not just a good heart, but humility and caution.