Somethings are not new.
The influence of religion in Birmingham state schools is one of the big political issue of today.
And one of the biggest political controversies in late 1860s and early 1870s was, well, also about secular education in Birmingham schools. Indeed, the young Joseph Chamberlain launched his political career by exploiting the disquiet at the role of religion in Birmingham schools. His novel methods of political organisation – in some ways, the start of modern party political campaigning – were also developed in the local School Board elections which followed the 1870 Education Act.
So there is nothing new at politicians exploiting issues like this either…
(I knew my aborted Modern History BA dissertation on religion and politics of the Birmingham secular school problem in 1860s would one day be relevant-ish!)