Teachers would not accept excuses for JRM's behaviour

The excuses made to justify Jacob Rees-Mogg's slouching in the House of Commons would be laughed out of any classroom

Ed Dorrell

Jacob Rees Mogg

Give me strength.

Yesterday evening, as I sat in my living room watching the Westminster drama unfold, I tweeted some genuine outrage about the disrespect for the House of Commons being displayed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, as the debate took place.

The leader of the house (JRM) was pictured slouching – almost lying, to be honest – as those around him debated the national crisis faced by our country. He couldn’t even be bothered to sit up straight.

Unsurprisingly, several dozen teachers responded to my tweet, taking the Young Fogey to task and contrasting his behaviour to the standards they’d expect in their class.

That was that, I thought. I was genuinely angry but expected the red mist to clear.

And then this. Riding to the defence of the Young Fogey this afternoon came one of the original Old Fogies, Charles Moore. Writing in The Spectator, Moore explained why there was nothing wrong with JRM’s behaviour:

If you sit in the Chamber, as the Leader of the House must, for many hours on end, you may well need to shift your position. This is particularly true if you are tall – Rees-Mogg is well over six foot. If there is noise, it helps a tall MP to lie down because then his ear is close to the speakers, which are in the back of each bench.

Can you begin to imagine what would happen if such an excuse were deployed by one of your students?

“Sorry, sir, I have to lie down at the back of your class because I’m tall, and I need my ear to be nearer to your voice. In addition, sir, I have to keep moving around because this double-French is long and I need to keep shifting my position because I am uncomfortable.”

I know not one single teacher who wouldn’t treat such a farcical excuse with the disdain it deserves.

To be clear, Rees-Mogg and Moore are the kind of traditionalist Tories who have bemoaned the state of behaviour in our schools since pretty much the beginning of time.

Sadly, however, this isn’t the first time, nor the last, that our political class has failed to live up to the standards Tes readers expect of their students. Westminster could perhaps do with a little more of the no-excuses culture.

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Ed Dorrell

Ed Dorrell

Ed Dorrell is deputy editor and head of content at the TES, former features and comment editor and former news editor. 

Find me on Twitter @Ed_Dorrell

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