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It would appear that this is not a partisan issue given that both main parties have elements for and against; what about the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and UKIP?

It's even possible that such divisions in relation to faith schools and attitudes towards cultural divisions could ultimately result in some kind of re-alignment - divisions within all three main parties on a wide range of issues appear to be growing.


Thanks for putting together all the pieces of the jigsaw on this interesting sideline over recent days. I had a few of the pieces but you've filled in the gaps.

It's a pity that an opportunity for the party to really capitalise on the difficulties the government faced on this issue and prise many of those who share the pews with me away from their Labour leanings was squandered by Buscombe's and Willett's poor initial handling of the matter.

My parish priest, who is Conservative minded, was horrified that at one stage the Conservative frontbench appeared to want to give local councils the power to determine faith school admissions. He rightly could not square this with our supposed stance of giving more freedom to schools e.g. support for foundation schools.

When we finally shifted our position on Thursday, we were swiftly followed by the Government and so we earned little credit. Then on Friday, Lord Baker did us further damage. In a remarkable outburst on the Radio 4 Today programme, he called Archbishop Vincent Nichols a liar.

Unfortunately, while the Government has not come out of this well neither have we.

As another Tory papist I,too, was horrified by the unConservative approach being taken by Lord Baker and our frontbench.

Historically it was the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages followed, after the Reformation, by the Cof E and then the Methodists who established what later became the state sector. The British and the National Schools Societies provided education for working class children 60 years before the 1870 Education Act signalled the first state involvement.

Catholic schools have a good reputation both for academic standards and also for their excellent ethos. Forcing new (and before long existing schools) to exclude Catholic children in order to fulfil a 25-30% quota on non-catholics for social engineering purposes is wrong. Indeed Catholic schools have a better cross section of social class than neighbourhood secular state schools.

No doubt Tony Blair understood this when he (a non-Catholic married to a Catholic) choose Catholic schools for his children even though it involved, in Ewan's case a complicated journey from Islington to Hammersmith.

I think somebody ought politely to inform the Archbishop that this isn't 1556 anymore.....

I should add to the above that I am yet another Tory Papist. One recently converted from the (very regrettably and sadly) listless and morally supine Church of England.

Is the person posing so pompously as Cranmer Adrian Hilton in disguise? As AH Matlock states, this is not 1556.

The initial reaction from the front bench reflects an unfortunate bias that led Cameron, badly counselled by his advisors, to snub Cardinal O'Brien this Summer in what this old dog can only describe as an egregious blunder and an electoral miscalculation. The Catholic vote, taken for granted for so long by Labour and foolishly written off by the Conservatives, is up for grabs as its demographics change. Is the Conservative party going to turn its back on this important constituency (10% of the population) or will it allow itself to be bear-led by the sectarian prejudice that lingers so malevolently in the more neanderthal sections of the party?

The average British punter wont have noticed this story at all and it would have passed them by.

So let's get this straight: we cunningly lured Labour into backing a stupid policy by backing it, then cunningly lured them into an humiliating U-turn by making a U-turn?

If David Cameron wants to impose restrictions on socially divisive schools he can start with Eton.

So let's get this straight: we cunningly lured Labour into backing a stupid policy by backing it, then cunningly lured them into an humiliating U-turn by making a U-turn?

If I understand David Cameron's remarks properly, he was not suggesting a law requiring a 25% quota.

However, NuLabour being ahem ZanuLabour, they jumped on the idea and suggeted that nanny should enforce it.

I would like to welcome the position that both Conservative and Labour frontbenches have come to in deciding that it is best that voluntary approaches are the best way to tackle this issue. Although I am concerned that this is an issue that does not even need to be addressed by voluntary means.

I am concerned that a view is developing in Britain that individuals should not be able to identify themselves as different from the rest of society based on their religion. I would argue though that many religious actions are not there to make that person seem better than others, rather religious actions, religious determined dress and religious-based schools are there to help that person get closer to what they feel there ultimate purpose is. For example as an orthodox Jew I wear a kapel (skullcap) as a head covering to make me feel closer to G-d.

However, now in Britain there is a growing view that if you do not conform to the Western customs you are an outsider, who should not be tolerated as you are trying to be different from the norm. While, I believe that is not the correct way for society to treat minority groups in this country, I am also not suggesting that the minority-religious groups should exclude themselves from the rest of society, ignoring and often looking down on others. The Hindu, Jewish and Sikh communities are positive illustrations of how religious communities can remain as strong communities while at the same time becoming successful members of the wider community.

Especially in the Jewish community this can be put down to the successful Jewish schools that attract high numbers of Jewish pupils and are often over subscribed. So I ask why are schools such as these being threatened with reform so that they will have to accept 25% of their intake from children who are not Jewish.

There is a point of view that with the increasing marginalisation of some groups in society and the growing threat of terrorism, that there is a need to ensure that children are not secluded from other communities so that children can learn to accept and live with people that are different to themselves. (Although, interestingly all of previous British Muslim suicide bombers have been educted in traditional comprehensives and not relligious schools.) While this obviously does have some positive benefits, this is not the only way to create a tolerant society. Children can be taught to be respectful of everyone in society while being taught in one-religion based schools. What matters for groups in society to be respectful of others is that they have a genuine understanding of others and are tolerant of all groups and individuals.

Children can learn this in mixed schools but they can also develop this method of understanding in single-religion schools. Like many parents want their children to be taught in single-sex schools, many parents want their children to go to a single-faith school. This can be for a number of reasons including that they want their children to develop a strong foundation in their own faith and history, while being able to share the same religious values with the children around them. Children are therefore able to gain confidence in their own beliefs and practices, so that they are then better equipped to face the world with tolerance and respect for others.

I am proud to be a former student at two Jewish schools, Rosh Pinah Primary School and JFS Secondary School. Through my time at these schools (including at JFS which has existed in London for more than 270 years) I received an education that provided me with a strong Jewish ethos but also to value and support everyone in society, so that I hope I am now someone that is proud to help all individuals where ever they come from. However, I also want to protect the rights of religious groups to express their religion as they wish. Therefore, as a Councillor I will continue to campaign with and support religious groups that want to wear their religious attire and send their children to single faith schools.

You'd be surprised, James. It's a very emotive issue to people who use faith schools. In Hertford, recently, several thousand people turned out to demonstrate against proposals that were perceived as hitting such schools in Hertfordshire.

not just the catholics. can you imagine being lab mp for burley and having your surgery besieged weekly by the white underclass threatening violence because they had been pressed ganged into sending their kids to the local muslim school - complete with headscrafs etc.

Lets just keep silly unproven superstition away from educating children.

Your report on the Government's cock up over faith schools is spot on. Except that you underestimate the role of Nick Gibb MP - who, acting contrary to his personal instincts and views, reacted quickly to get the Tory position right and put the Govt in the dock.

Gibb, under instruction from the other chief spokespeople, John Hayes MP and Lady Morris, was spotted in a Commons restaurant rewriting the Alton Lords amendment to make it irresistible.

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