I agree with all of this MM. It's nice to see someone who knows about the history of it, instead of the usual blinkered view you get from both sides (so to speak).
Also, your point about the Tories is spot on. Again, I'd put it down to just not knowing the history, but a lot of the things that people blame "The Left" / Labour / insert-bogeyman-of-choice for were brought in under the Tories.
The National Curriculum was possibly not an unmitigated success. And certainly rigidity will tend to creep in. It's because the politicians know best - surely you realise that ?
Thanks, well I know some of the history at least. Don't claim to know all of it -)
But one other piece of history is that it was Callaghan who initiated the reviews of standards in education that in some ways prefigured the National Curriculum. What I mean is that by the mid to late 70s, there was a feeling about that the relaxations of the 1960s (which I remember very directly) had gone a bit too far and standards had slipped.
There was almost certainly a need for "something to be done". It's a pity it had to be a top-down, one size fits all approach, rather than a more experimental, try this, see what works, maybe different things in different areas, easier to reverse if not working, sort of thing. We used to mock the French system, by which (allegedly), in every French school, the teacher would be turning to the same page in the same book on the same day. We didn't get quite to that stage, but it felt like it a bit sometimes.