Cameron’s GCSE history fail as he gets facts on Churchill wrong at spring forum

Oh dear. What would Michael Gove say? In David Cameron’s speech today to Conservative spring forum, he reaches back into the annals of history to describe how past Tory leaders have supported aspiration.

The speech has been briefed to the media as being about an “aspiration nation” and given its  to the Tory grassroots, who better to cite than Churchill? The prime minister states,

“Great Conservatives down the generations have put those ladders in place. When Churchill invented the labour exchanges that helped people into work. When Macmillan built new homes. When Thatcher fired up enterprise so people could start their own businesses.”

Except when Winston Churchill legislated to create labour exchanges in 1909, he was of course a Liberal MP and President of the Board of Trade in one of the great progressive governments of the last century.

A government that was opposed tooth and nail by er…the Conservatives. A government whose plans for pensions and social insurance in that year’s budget were repeatedly defeated by the House of Lords prompting a constitutional crisis, at the behest of er…the Conservatives.

On the specific issue of labour exchanges, Tory grandee and MP, F.E.Smith, summed up the views of many of his colleagues in 1909,

“Not only will the establishment of labour exchanges not add to employment, but if they are to serve the only purpose which they can economically serve the necessary consequence of their establishment must be actually to diminish employment.”

David Cameron doesn’t  just get his facts wrong, in his speech he is attempting to re-write history, implying by rhetorical sleight of hand the Tories were in favour of an agenda that they actually viscerally opposed.

Following on from his rebuke by the UK Statistics authority for confusing the terms debt and deficit, and his upbraiding by the Office for Budget Responsibility for his misleading words on the impact of austerity on the deficit, this is just the latest in a series of events where David Cameron has been caught out being economical with the truth.

The teaching of history in schools is an issue particularly close to Michael Gove’s heart. Eighteen months ago he described it’s importance in developing the abilities of GCSE students  saying,

“One of the skills I would like to see students develop is the ability to argue and separate falsities from the truth.”

Perhaps a little chat with the prime minister after the next cabinet would be in order.


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4 Responses to “Cameron’s GCSE history fail as he gets facts on Churchill wrong at spring forum”

  1. swatantra says:

    Obviously Dave has not been reading Pete and Atul’s ‘A History of the World’ in 9 Volumes. Should be on the reading list for every PPE student.

  2. Rallan says:

    OMG, how bored were you when you decided to write this article? You must have had literally nothing else to do!

  3. @Rallan, you might not think it particularly significant, but in the wider context it is ANOTHER occasion where the PM is either ignorant or deceitful. Cameron is, apparently, highly intelligent, but consistently he is making false claims that show either a wilful neglect of truth or just plain laziness. Either way, not the qualities we expect from the Prime Minister. Evidence based reasoning should be at the heart of all policy decisions.

  4. Rallan says:

    “you might not think it particularly significant”

    I really, really don’t. It is painfully trivial.

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