In the Walker Gallery in Liverpool there is a brilliant picture by the Victorian historical painter Frederick Yeames, it is called ; 'When did you last see your father?' In it a small young boy of about six or seven, clad in brilliant blue cavalier garb, is standing on a stool in front of a table, the other side of which sits his interrogator, a kindly looking Puritan. Gathered round the table are other, more severe looking, sombre clad roundheads, while behind the little boy his mother and sisters cower under the guard of pikemen. It is a great picture.
What a pity there is no Fredrick Yeames alive today. If there was he might well be tempted to update the picture. Now surely the scene would be set inside a school. The Puritan interrogator would now be an Ofstead inspector, the cowering girls in the background, would now be teachers terrified of the consequences of how an innocent answer to a question by the little boy might be interpreted by the Inspector. And the title of the picture? Well I think I better leave that to your imagination.
This not far fetched. This is modern Britain. Durham Free School faces closure after being branded an 'educational failure' because some pupils displayed 'discriminatory views.' Allegedly the inspectors quizzed children as young as ten on how they would react if someone 'gay or Muslim' came to the school and one ten year old girl was apparently asked to define what a lesbian was, an eleven year old girl was asked 'whether she knew any lesbians and whether any of her family had gay friends?'
I am sorry such questioning is not just disgusting but the mindset of the people who ask such question of little children must be twisted beyond belief. But that is the trouble isn't it. These inspectors are as sure of the righteousness of their calling and of their questioning as that roundhead officer in the picture was or -say - of a Gestapo officer questioning a young Jewish boy - yes I'm afraid I don't see much difference between a modern Ofstead 'right on' Inspector determined to root out any 'discriminatory' thoughts and Gestapo or KGB operators equally determined to root out 'anti social elements.'