THE labels assigned to critics of government policy by Conservative ministers are beginning to cause a stir.
There is anger at the hints and winks that anybody who, say, doesn’t like the academy school model or worries about private markets in public services is somehow plotting some snowy revolution.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, for example, made people go ‘grrrrr’ in Haringey when he described parents trying to stop a primary school becoming an academy as ‘trots’ last month.
“It’s a pity that the Labour Party hasn’t spoken out against this Trot campaign,” he said. The Guardian did some ‘pass notes’ about the term earlier this month.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling has trodden a similar path when asked about the government’s supermarket work experience scheme and those who have persuaded companies to distance themselves from it.
Big Chris said: “It is a small number of activists trying to destabilise companies. What’s happened in the last week is we’ve got a lot of companies who are very jumping, they’re coming under pressure from a big internet campaign that is being run by an organisation that is a front for the Socialist Workers Party.”
Now, unbelievably, you can have your doubts about both issues and neither count yourself a ‘trot’ nor have a card with the SWP.
Still, while the irritation is easier to see because of the way news stories and quotes disseminate over the internet, these kind of labels are not new.
In fact, all of the council tenants who campaigned against having their homes whisked out of council control in the mid-noughties in Camden were told they had joined a “Trotskyist” campaign.
The close to 80 percent of tenants who had voted against the privatisation of council housing in 2004 had been swayed, he said, “a combination of superannuated Communists and not that much younger Trotskyists”.
Sir Keith later went on to do something which all good trots and SWP members would agree with: he rejected the offer of a knighthood.