Our Wanker of the Week award (bit of a misnomer, admittedly, as it's more like Wanker of the Month. Not that there's any shortage of wankers, of course, just not enough time to write about them all!) has become a bit of an institution and attracts more readers than almost all our other pages with the obvious exception of Readers' Wives which continues to bring the prurient in their droves.
We've had over forty Wankers since the award began, but it's really nice once in a while to have the opportunity to nominate someone for the other sort of recognition, for doing something sensible, brave and necessary. So here is our "Hero of the Week", a lorry driver from Dover called Stewart Dimmock.
In a long article in the Daily Telegraph this week, Joshua Rozenberg recounts how Stewart Dimmock, who is a school governor and local councillor, is taking the Government to court over a film that he believes is biased and shouldn't be shown to children in schools.
"The debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over", said David Miliband in February. Now where have we heard that before? Mr.Miliband, who was then environment secretary, was responding to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which left him so confident that there was nothing more to say on the matter that he and Alan Johnson, then education secretary, announced that they would be sending a film about climate change to all 3,385 secondary schools in England.
A neutral, objective assessment of the evidence, perhaps? One that took care to present all sides of the argument so that pupils could make up their own minds? Not at all: it was Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", described by Mr Johnson as "a powerful message about the fragility of our planet".
Since ministers regarded the debate as well and truly over, they were "delighted" to send school children a polemic that took as its central thesis the argument that climate change - the increase in global temperatures over the past 50 years - was mainly the result of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. This is indeed the view of the IPCC and, it claimed, most of the world's climate scientists. But other people disagree.
Stewart Dimmock's sons aged 11 and 14 attend a secondary school in Dover which has presumably received a copy of Mr Gore's film. "I care about the environment as much as the next man," he says, "however, I am determined to prevent my children from being subjected to political spin in the classroom."
You might think there ought to be a law against this - and there is. Section 406(1)(b) of the Education Act 1996 says that local education authorities, school governing bodies and head teachers "shall forbidů the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school". And if political issues are brought to the attention of pupils while they are at a maintained school, the authority, the governors and the head are required by the next section of the Act to take "such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure thatů they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views".
What precisely do these words mean? No court has yet ruled on them. But that opportunity will come in a week's time when Mr.Dimmock takes legal action against Ed Balls, the new Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
Mr Dimmock's lawyers are trying to prevent the film being shown in schools. At this stage, they are asking for permission to challenge the Schools' Secretary's decision to distribute it. This was refused in July after a written application. But if permission is granted at an oral hearing next Thursday, the judge is expected to consider the merits of Mr.Dimmock's application for judicial review straight away. A day in court, with expert evidence, does not come cheap - especially if Mr.Dimmock loses and has to pay part or all of the Government's costs. Where will the money come from?
"The funding is a private matter for him," says John Day, Mr.Dimmock's solicitor. Mr.Day will not be drawn further, but he does confirm that his client is an active member of the New Party, whose manifesto says that "political opportunism and alarmism have combined in seizing [the IPCC's] conclusions to push forward an agenda of taxation and controls that may ultimately be ineffective in tackling climate change, but will certainly be damaging to our economy and society".
According to his solicitor, Mr Dimmock accepts that the planet is getting hotter. He is not trying to prevent climate change being taught in schools. What he does not accept is that sending out a 93-minute film made by the former vice-president of the United States is the right way to do it. "Gore has gone on record as saying he believes it is appropriate to over-represent the facts to get his message across," says Mr Day. "One of the very clear inferences from the Gore film is that areas such as Bangladesh will be under water by the end of the century. He is talking about sea levels rising by 20 feet."
But this is not backed up by the IPCC. Their view is that sea levels will rise by 1.3 feet over the next 100 years. A rise of 20ft would require rising temperatures to continue for millennia.
"This film is a very powerful piece of work, says Mr Day. "There is a real risk that children are going to gulp on this and just digest it and accept it."
Al Gore's central premise - that carbon dioxide emissions are causing the recently observed global warming - is taken by the film as proven. There is no discussion of the fact that the climate is changing naturally all the time, whether warming or cooling. The examples given in the film, such as shrinking lakes and melting glaciers, are subject to doubt both as to their causes and in some cases to their factual accuracy.
Mr.Dimmock's lawyers will argue that distributing this film to schools is either unlawful under section 406 of the 1996 Act or unlawful because it does not offer the balance required by section 407.
The likelihood of success for Mr.Dimmock is, frankly, small. But this is a fight worth fighting, and for having the balls to do so he deserves our heartfelt thanks and encouragement. Our children are being politically indoctrinated, and this is wrong.
The GOS says: In the Grumpy Guest Book it has been suggested by many visitors that what we need in this country is another political party, one that will truly represent the views of ordinary English people. It's even been suggested that I should start one, and aim to make myself Prime Minister, although personally I think Jeremy Clarkson would do it better.
Now it seems possible that our prayers might have been answered. Stewart Dimmock represents The New Party, which has several councillors already in Kent. Its website is beautifully presented and intelligently written. Its manifesto is, on the face of it, a triumph of common sense. The party describes itself as "a party of economic liberalism, political reform and internationalism", and adds "Our politicians are not up to the job. If we fail to act now, we will de-skill, de-motivate and impoverish an entire generation." No argument there!
So far, we know little about The New Party, but we're eager to learn more. If anyone can enlighten us further, we'd like to hear from them - either click the "Contact" button on the left, or post a message in the Grumpy Guest Book.
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