Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launches the most bizarre attack on Labour’s vote to abolish private schools

Jimmy Wales and an English private school
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

On 22 September, delegates at the Labour Party annual conference in Brighton voted for a motion to abolish private schools. The plan would see the removal of their charitable status and a redistribution of their properties to the state. Delegates approved this motion to become part of Labour’s next election manifesto.

It’s a radical proposal that could revolutionise the British education system. And while you might expect some opposition to this move, nonsensical analogies, like the one from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, make no sense at all.

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An illogical comparison

Wales clearly took exception to the vote. And it is of course his right to disagree. But taking the vote result completely out of context and drawing the most bizarre and horrendous of analogies is not helpful. Particularly if this misleads the debate. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia founder couldn’t see it for the progressive move that it is.

Wales’ statement draws on the Martin Niemöller quote which laments that many Germans were complicit in Nazi persecution and murder of millions by their silence. So exactly how this applies here is a mystery. And it appeared to be a mystery to many who took to social media.

The response

People on social media put this outrageous comparison in its place. Initially, people were just shocked:

Another person, somewhat humorously, attempted to follow his logic:

And finally someone threw his lack of logic back in his face:

Wales’ comment is even more confusing when Wikipedia itself claims to “set learning free”.

Grassroots victory

But regardless of Wales’ comment, grassroots campaigners and supporters celebrated the vote as a victory:

Comedian David Schneider welcomed it in a humorous yet honest fashion:

The problem with private education

The campaign to abolish private schools has been underway for some time. Some believe private schools “have held an untouchable air in this country”, and that they damage society, as some get into positions of power “on the basis of wealth rather than talent”. But now Labour promises to end all that by agreeing to include the outcome of this vote in its next election manifesto.

A parent wanting the best for their child is natural. But it’s not natural that it should come at the expense of wider society. While this vote might just be election policy, it’s a significant steps towards making our society a lot fairer.

Featured image via Flickr – nrkbeta / Flickr – David Short

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    1. Well, Jimbo’s a fan of Hayek and Ayn Rand, which is as close to the right wing cliff without falling off. A courageous meritocrat (with a head start). Like the Christian atheist, whose religiosity impairs his logic, the Fascist social warrior still shoves the little kids aside in the lunch queue when he’s really hungry. The veneer of civility is wafer thin, quick to crack.

      1. Yes, I nearly dropped my vegetable peeler one Sunday listening to Jimmy Wales on ”Desert Island Discs” while preparing lunch, when he chose ”The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand as his book.

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