There is one way for children in this country to climb out of the rut they’re born into. It’s called grammar schools. They allow the brightest children from disadvantaged homes to climb out of their milieu. They provide their students with aspirations and fill them with the self-confidence to fulfill them. But under the Conservatives, and then Labour, these schools have shrunk to 164, catering for only 140,000 students. Labour hates them because they’re selective, and therefore divisive; David Miliband, during his tenure as Secretary for Education, embraced the comprehensives as the only way forward. David Cameron, when he was going through his we-must-be-more-like-Polly-Toynbee moment in Opposition, bought this line and turned his back on grammars as well; and the Lib Dems had no plans to resurrect them.
The press are certainly able to make a lot of noise. Most of the country may not be that bothered about press regulation, but it has definitely become the NUMBER ONE ISSUE for the denizens of the media class. The Budget is almost looking like light relief tomorrow.
There are a few voices of sanity if you look hard enough. Amol Rajan in the Evening Standard yesterday commented on the dangers of victim justice, while Will Sturgeon on today's Media Blog provides a reminder of exactly why press regulation is on the agenda, and it's not to do with politicians trying to extend their power, funnily enough.
But there is also still plenty of group press hysterics to keep us all entertained, nowhere more obviously than in Quentin Letts' parliamentary 'sketch' in today's Mail. Letts is so focused on pouring vitriol over the heads of any MP who dared suggest that press regulation is needed that he quite forgot to be funny. Or maybe that's become his house style n…
Prompted by a desperate tweet for examples of ministers who should have resigned on the basis of Individual Ministerial Responsibility but didn't, here are a few thoughts.
It really is increasingly rare for ministers to be brought to book over specific issues connected with their job. Plenty of ministers might resign due to non-job related problems: sex scandals, for example, which took David Mellor in John Major's government; or abuse of office - see David Blunkett and Peter Mandelson, who both resigned twice for different reasons - well worth googling them; or health reasons (Mo Mowlam in 2000). Ministers do also resign over differences with policy (i.e. they cannot maintain Collective Responsibility) - Robin Cook resigning as Leader of the Commons over Iraq is a good case, or James Purnell resigning as Work and Pensions Secretary because he believed Gordon Brown should stand down as Prime Minister. However, the responsibility of modern ministers is so wide that it is bec…
David Cameron could be forgiven if he enters the Tory
Conference week thinking about his place in history. This, after all, is a man who doesn’t have to
win another election, since he’s given himself a final term firewall against
any future electoral catastrophes. Not
only that, but he’s been able to witness Big Bad Jezza Corbyn’s utter
catastrophe of a party conference over the past week, with possibly only a few
hours off to mull over the deteriorating quality of western foreign policy
(currently sub-contracted out to the country formerly known as the Soviet
Corbyn is a delight in many ways. He’s not quite as different as a party leader
as some hopefuls are suggesting, admittedly.
George Lansbury and Michael Foot were also bizarre lefty true-believers
with a lofty disdain for practical politics, and both proved electorally
disastrous for the Labour party, albeit from a better intellectual vantage point
than the fuzzy minded Corbyn. But Corbyn
is the first of that mould …