Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Heads-up sceptics

How do you fancy getting paid to brainwash our nation’s youth? Oh, sorry… Did I say “brainwash our nation’s youth”? I meant, erm…

“run an educational project about the EU. This includes a nationwide programme of sceptical talks for sixth-formers, a sixth-form conference in March 2006 and a series of balanced fact sheets about EU policies and institutions.”


“Our speakers come from across the political spectrum, and include parliamentarians from Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP, as well as top business people, journalists and political campaigners. All are sceptical about the Constitution for Europe or the euro; some would like to reform the EU from within; and some think that Britain would be better off outside the Union.” (emphasis mine)

Then again, this is a post with the same thinktank that is seriously trying to promote Our Island Story as a proper history book, providing copies to as many primary schools as they can. Aside from the fact that it was written a century ago and so maintains a somewhat outdated late Victorian / Imperialist paternalist attitude (not meant in any kind of politically ideological way) and a doggedly whiggish, teleological approach to history (with a vague idea that it was Britain’s – or rather, England’s – fate to forever advance to become the most powerful nation in the world), it is also simply not a work of history, as the sample chapter makes abundantly clear.

Our Island Story is little more than a heavily fictionalised version of a particular interpretation of British history which has now been rejected by pretty much every major historian going as at best overly simplistic, at worst outright wrong. To wit:

“They stood beside the bed, hardly daring to look at the two pretty children in case the sight might soften even their hard hearts, and they would be unable to do the cruel deed. Then they seized the clothes and the pillows and pressed them over the faces of the little boys. They could not scream, they could not breathe. Soon they lay still, smothered in their sleep.”

This would tend to give the impression that “the Princes in the Tower” were definitely murdered, and that this was witnessed/recorded to the extent that it was even known that they were smothered in their sleep. The truth? Nobody knows what happened to them. At all. There is no evidence that they were murdered beyond the fact that they seemed to vanish from the Tower of London after being locked up by Richard III, and most of the stories of their deaths originated in Tudor propagandists trying to justify Henry VII’s usurpation of the throne. To present their murder as historical fact is to ignore five hundred years’ worth of research.

So, if you fancy a job which involves peddling works of fiction to schoolchildren and convincing the poor kiddies that they’re fact, while ignoring anything which could contradict the particular take on reality you’ve chosen to adopt, it looks like Civitas is the place for you. (I was going to apply myself, but my conscience simply couldn’t take it – what’s happened to genuinely rational EU-scepticism these days?)