Showing posts from February, 2014

A Tweet Inspired Diversion on Iain Macleod

In one of those politically neeky moments that do occasionally come about, even for the most suave and sophisticated members of the lesser suburbian intelligentsia, I was struck by a tweet from Times columnist and Conservative Home founder Tim Montgomerie.  Montgomerie had asked who originated the line "liberals may dream their dreams, socialists may scheme their schemes, but we have work to do."  Since it would be well known to Mr. Montgomerie  - a man one suspects of being thoroughly immersed in Conservative folklore - that the line was famously uttered by Iain Macleod in 1960, I assumed he was inferring that Macleod had stolen the line from someone else.  In the replies to his tweet, Spectator editor Fraser Nelson - who referenced the Macleod speech in a blog post just recently - did indeed imply that his famous predecessor might have 'borrowed' the line.  Could it be?  Could one of the Tory Party's greatest orators have done a Joe Biden and nicked a terrific…

Another Quango Head Proves His Worth

Chris Smith wasn't a very impressive minister back in the early days of Blairite government where he served in the middle ranks.  But he didn't commit any huge sins either, and is likeable enough, so the reward was to head a quango.  He has no environmental qualifications that I'm aware of, so naturally he became the chairman of the Environment Agency.  As it happens, since he can presumably draw on expert advice, what appears to have been needed at the top of the Environment Agency was a first class politician who could identify problems, sort through competing solutions and impose them.  A first class politician would also be able to communicate his agency's work effectively, and when things go pear-shaped - as they tend to when dealing with an environment that stubbornly refuses to engage in predictable or controllable behaviour - he should be able to go into damage limitation mode speedily and effectively.  Chris Smith has no environmental qualifications, but he d…

The Secret of Good Schools?

Michael Gove thinks in headlines but then fails to do any necessary research for the actual story.  His latest headline was that state schools should become more like private schools, but without the money obviously.  Which pretty well makes the transformation impossible.  The things that Gove was lauding as good for schools - extra sports, Combined Cadet Forces, outside speakers, societies - area also precisely the area that his department and government has cut back on in school budgets.  Does he even look at his own budgeting arrangements? 

Nonetheless, because he is after all the Education Secretary, the Today programme ran a short discussion this morning between two heads - a prep school headteacher and a state school (Academy) headteacher, although the Academy head is nothing as lowly as a mere headmaster, he is an Executive Director.  The explosion of school titles is often in directly inverse proportion to the explosion in a school's results, although Mr Day, the Executi…

Cameron's Quandary and Tory Rebels

The papers have devoted some space today - at least in their non-celebrity pages - to last week's rebellion by Tory MPs, in which David Cameron was saved largely by Labour and Lib Dem votes.  That his backbenchers are more ferociously euro-sceptic than he is comes as no surprise - it's right up there with "public don't like bankers" on the revelatory scale - but the question is being raised as to whether Cameron has fundamentally lost control of his parliamentary party.  Or, indeed, whether he ever had it.

David Cameron was elected as Tory leader by a membership who were impressed with his ability to give a speech without notes, who realised that the party needed a fresh face and who had been uninspired by the main right-wing standard bearer David Davis.  They assumed Cameron was a basic right-winger, and accepted his modernising efforts in opposition through gritted teeth.  The problem has always been that Cameron himself has no deep roots in the Conservative P…

Sally Morgan's Politics

The chairman of Ofsted isn't happy about not being asked to do a second term in office, and she's been making that very clear across the media for the last few days.  Sally Morgan, the chairman in question, is a Labour baroness who owes her political prominence to the fact that she was for many years a close aide to Tony Blair - indeed, she is an old friend who became his No. 10 gatekeeper entirely because she was was an old friend.  Look up Sally Morgan's independent political or educational achievements and they are not quite so considerable. The reality with this present storm in  a teacup is that it is loyal Blairite Sally Morgan who has been making the most political capital out of her position, not the government.

Morgan's main claim is that she is being asked to step down because she's not a Tory, and that the present Conservative-Lib Dem coalition wants to put more Tories in top quango positions.  Which it probably does want to do, because after all it is …