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Editor's comment

It was a long time coming out of the holster but the starting gun has finally been fired for the May 6 Westminster general election. The next month will be dominated by much sound and fury, with the only real highlight likely to be the three debates among the Prime Ministerial hopefuls. Schools, of course, will be able to mine much from the proceedings - they might even derive enlightenment. Modern studies teachers, in particular, should be salivating at the prospects for their subject. But a general election is also a vehicle for cross-curricular work, from debates and citizenship to economics and the environment. If Curriculum for Excellence cannot thrive in such a climate, it never will.

Schools should also see themselves as having a central role inspiring their students to cast off apathy. It is often said that young people are interested in campaigning on issues they care about, but that this does not translate into caring about the precious right to vote. The various scandals surrounding politicians do their cause no good, so it is all the more challenging for schools to make sure that voters of the future can see the bigger democratic picture: the mere 37 per cent turnout of 18-24 year olds at the 2005 general election is sobering.

For Scotland as a whole, the problem for the political parties will be the same as it has been in all the post-devolutionary Westminster elections - how to enthuse the electorate when most of the issues affecting them, such as education, are no longer the responsibility of the UK Parliament.

However, that does not mean this election is irrelevant. The major impact on Scottish education will come not from the parties' pledges on education, but from the decisions taken by the men who would be chancellor. Our front page story this week indicates that, as Labour did not say in 1997, "things can only get worse."

Neil Munro editor of the year (business and professional magazine).

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