David Cameron pledges lessons on Magna Carta as he seeks to push 'British values'
PM says people shouldn’t be “bashful about Britishness"
David Cameron has pledged to teach all school children about Magna Carta as he claims the country needs to be “more muscular” in promoting British values.
Mr Cameron said a “worrying” message of tolerance towards non-British values has led to division and allowed extremism in the UK.
The Prime Minister’s comments follow the controversy of the Trojan Horse schools scandal, in which the Islamist influence found at some institutions in Birmingham led to Education Secretary Michael Gove telling teachers that they must “actively promote British values”.
Mr Cameron said he wanted to use the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, a year from today, as an opportunity for every child to learn about “the foundation of all our laws and principles”.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday today, Mr Cameron claimed that “in recent years, we have been in danger of sending out a worrying message: that if you don’t want to believe in democracy, that’s fine; that if equality isn’t your bag, don’t worry about it; that if you’re completely intolerant of others, we will still tolerate you.
“This has not just let to division it has also allowed extremism – of both the violent and non-violent kind – to flourish. We need to be far more muscular in promoting British values and the institutions that uphold them.”
Magna Carta, which was signed by King John in 1215, is “a great document in our history,” Mr Cameron said, adding: “It is what my favourite book, ‘Our Island Story’, describes as the ‘foundation of all our laws and liberties’. In sealing it, King John had to accept his subjects were citizens – for the first time giving them rights, protections and security."
The Prime Minister said that a “genuinely liberal country” believes in certain values, actively promotes them and “says to its citizens: this is what defines us as a society”.
He said the UK’s “belief in freedom, tolerance of others, accepting personal and social responsibility, respecting and upholding the rule of law” are as “British as the Union Flag, football and fish and chips”.
“We should not be squeamish about our achievements, or bashful about our Britishness,” he said.
Downing Street will launch the celebratory activity for the anniversary of Magna Carta at an event tomorrow, while the next 12 months will see dedicated lessons in schools teaching children about the charter, with specialist television programming and celebratory events planned.
Historian David Starkey, who is making a BBC2 series about Magna Carta to run next year, praised the plan to highlight the importance of the charter in schools. He said: “Every child, especially Muslim children, should be taught about Magna Carta.
“The reason people have become immigrants in Britain is precisely because they value life here. What are intrinsic to that life are the social, economic and political freedoms that go back to Magna Carta,” he told The Sunday Times.
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital in London where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Nepal earthquake: Rescuers forced to dig with their bare hands in search for survivors as images show damage to historic buildings
Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson in angry clash live on BBC's Andrew Marr Show
Bali Nine executions: British grandmother on death row in Indonesia Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...