The only policy, apart from leaving the EU, which UKIP has stuck consistently to in this parliament has been bringing back the 11+,grammar schools and, although rarely mentioned, secondary modern schools, throughout England.
They have even adopted the same slogan with which John Major hoped to rally voters in the 1997 election ; 'A grammar school in every town!'.
At the time I wrote to my local paper listing the main arguments against selection and also, what I saw as, the total impracticality of the proposal.
I don't intend just now to reiterate the wider case against selection. It has been made by many people,including founders of this site. I have written and spoken on the issue many times.
But a grammar school in every town: how on earth would the policy be actually implemented?
What would happen,for example, in the hundreds of towns throughout the country presently served (and usually very effectively) by one comprehensive school. I can think of a dozen such, within a short drive of my house. No chancellor would agree to the enormous funding required for all the new schools required to separate the sheep and goats in Farage's new dawn. Gove's free school revolution has been tiny in comparison and yet the finances of that are already creaking .
One might , perhaps, bus all the sheep out of Town A to the school in Town B whilst the goats travel in the opposite direction. But given that LAs are trying desperately to make huge reductions in school travel costs this seems as much a financial non-starter as building new schools everywhere. And imagine a parent's reaction to learning that, not only has their child just failed the 11+ but s/hemust travel miles to a school in another town instead of attending the popular local comprehensive school which has just been re-designated a grammar school.
And what about the many towns with two or more schools. Who will decide and how which become grammar schools and which secondary moderns? Not the local authority in this new age of the academy certainly. So a free for all? We've got that already many might think but this would surely make a bad situation infinitely worse.
My letter to the local paper in 1997 was not published
but was apparently shown to Gillian Shepherd, then Secretary of State for Education, with a request for a comment. According to a local journalist she refused a comment but looked 'very angry'. He said 'my impression was that she hated having to defend the policy' .
Quite. It made no sense then and it makes no sense now.