Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tories Auschwitz 'Gimmick' Backfires

Well, it just goes to show that even sixty years on you really can't be too careful when referencing Auschwitz. Conservative Central Office issued a list of gimmicks that they accused the government of engaging in, and included as one of them, the government's announcement that it would pay for students to go to Auschwitz. Turns out the government won't pay very much as it happens, and as a state school history teacher I can't say I've been inundated with helpful information from the government about how to access this fund. Even if I could, I could apparently only send two students - not an impressive number given that quite a few will study this topic in the Upper Sixth. So, in my book, it counts absolutely as a gimmick. But, because it's Auschwitz, the Tories have been the subject of quick, hysterical attacks for daring to mention it in the same sentence as the word 'gimmick'. Cue Ed Balls, ever willing to make party political advantage, who could barely wait to issue his press release condemning the Tories' 'disgraceful' accusations as, er, using Auschwitz for party political purposes. Which is not what he intended to do a all - he had a much higher minded view of the whole thing when devising his cock-eyed policy.

However, it was certainly clumsy, and the Tories need to buck their PR ideas up if they want to come across as a winning opposition. After all, any school child can tell you that Auschwitz remains one of the most emotive aspects of Europe's recent past, and should be mentioned only warily.

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