Educating Mr Miliband and Mr Di Canio

Education is the formation, by means of instruction, of mental habits and an outlook on life. It is unsurprising then, when people who have the same type of education, such as those who went to public schools or those who were educated in trades and trade unions, tend to have very similar outlooks. They may, as a group, differ in the detail, but the thrust of what they have as their weltanschauung occupies reasonably well defined parameters. I can illustrate this by two examples in the news.

Mr David Miliband is a Labour politician who is by all accounts the son of a Marxist theoretician. He is the progeny of a Jewish background and had a comprehensive education in an affluent part of London. We studied at Oxford. His education and upbringing have moulded his beliefs and his outlook on life.

Mr Paolo Di Canio is a football manager and an Italian. He claims to be a fascist and an admirer of Mussolini and has right wing views. He played football, sometimes with extraordinary grace and imagination. His education and upbringing (for upbringing is perhaps the most important part of an educational process) have molded his beliefs and his outlook on life.

For some reasons which are unclear to me Mr Miliband is a supporter of Sunderland AFC. Perhaps it is because he had his political constituency in South Shields. He was a non-executive director of Sunderland, earning (as many a true socialist does) £125,000 per annum for what most of us would regard as light duties. He has resigned as MP because he is going to run a charity in New York, the International Rescue Committee. This organisation, like many charities, is very coy about disclosing Mr Miliband’s salary, which will no doubt be very substantial. Mr Miliband fills a post that previously paid £260,000 per annum.

Mr Di Canio was very recently appointed manager of Sunderland. This was too much for Mr Miliband who promptly resigned, without, it seems, meeting Mr Di Canio, “in view of (Mr Di Canio’s) past political statements.

Mr Di Canio and Mr Miliband have their outlook on life shaped by the education. Mr Miliband’s education was extraordinarily privileged by shaped by his upbringing, but Mr Di Canio’s was mainly the result of upbringing and trade. Mr Miliband seems to regard Mr Di Canio’s political views as being such that he cannot serve of the board of the football club that employs Mr Di Canio.

Politicians are very good at demonising individuals and criticising them for views that they do not hold. This becomes a habit and as a result they gain political advantage of appearing to win the argument. I do not know Mr Di Canio’s political views, but whatever they are we should tolerate them, just as we should tolerate the views of hard line Marxists. By working with people we can understand their views better and be part of an educational process which may result in the views of both sides being better understood and even modified. By refusing to work with those who views we despise we lose the opportunity of continuing their education as well as our own.

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