...a blog by Richard Flowers

Friday, July 09, 2010

Day 3477: An Education


Poor Mr Michael Borogove! He once said he would willingly give up his seat in the Cabinet so that Mr David Laws could get a place. Looks like this might be his opportunity…

It's been a bit of a week for the schools minister, cutting this, cocking-up that, and now getting a pasting from Hard Labour's Mr Bully Balls in a rant about all those cancelled school repairs.

What no one seems to have asked, though, is WHY, after thirteen years of "Education, education, education", do we still HAVE one in five school schools in desperate need of rebuilding?

If it really MATTERED to Hard Labour… why hadn't they done it already?

Of course, the funny thing about the "Building Schools for the Future" program is that it was a scheme to rebuild every single school in the country. Every single one.

Were they really ALL about to fall down where they stood, or was there some hint that this might in fact have been an enormous VANITY PROJECT on the part of a certain senior government figure known only as the then Chancellor who wished to remain anonymous? So long as he got all the credit. And none of it went to Tony.

Mr Bully Balls says that these cuts to school rebuilding are to be recycled to fund Mr Borogove's "unfair ideological experiment", as though there's nothing "ideological" about rebuilding every school in the country whether they want it or not.

How can these cuts fall "unfairly" on Labour constituencies? Why surely only if the building programmes had been unfairly dolled out to Labour constituencies in the first place.

Look, you do have to admit that Mr Borogove's Free Schools ideas are a bit WACKY! Just at the time when his Conservatory Chum Mr Eric "In a" Pickles has been saying local authorities should save money by pooling their support services, Mr Borogove is saying that schools should GIVE UP pooling of support from their local education authority and go it alone.

Still who said ideology had to be consistent so long as local authorities are getting less power – passing it down to schools, handing it up to efficiency savings, what's the difference?

But it's hardly fair of Hard Labour to criticise him for THAT. After all, letting parents and businesses set up "Free Schools" is not that different to Lord Blairimort's City McAcademies with the Christian Fundamentalists filed off.

Nor am I completely convinced by shrill protests that parents setting up new schools will be "taking away money from existing schools". Um, yes, but they'll be taking away PUPILS as well, won't they? Wasn't that kind of the POINT of Hard Labour's own choice agenda – money follows the pupils: bad schools get fewer kids get less money. Or is Mr Balls condemning the education policy of, um, Mr Balls?

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: you can have CHOICE or you can have EFFICIENCY but you can't have BOTH. A perfectly efficient education system has exactly as many places for pupils as there are pupils. So imagine you are the last pupil to be placed: there's only going to be one place left – so you can't have a CHOICE.

Or if everyone's going to have a choice, then you have to have some spare places left over, and that's just not efficient.

And frankly, who WANTS to be perfectly efficient, anyway? Oh yes, sorry, worst recession ever blah blah blah, stick with the programme.

Hard Labour are really keen as mustard to pretend that we DON'T have to try and fix this great big hole that they've whacked through the bottom of the economy as though the cold waters of an over-extended metaphor were not already flooding in.

They want to say that the Coalition are offering a FALSE DICHOTOMY between cuts now or ruinous economic consequences.

But actually that's a FALSE false dichotomy.

For every year from 2001 onwards, come rain or shine, Mr Frown SPENT more than he RAISED in taxes. For every year, good or bad, he INCREASED the amount that we borrowed.

It's no GOOD saying: "It's not our fault, it was the bankers!" Sure, at the end, the bankers really blew the roof off, but we were on the road to ruin LOOOOOOONG before that.

(And it's not like Hard Labour policy – being "intensely relaxed" about the City getting "filthy rich" – contributed NOTHING to the whole "bet the farm on red and let her riiiiide!" attitude…)

We really DO have to do something about this, and BEFORE the election, even Hard Labour admitted it.

But now, every cut is a BAD cut, every choice is the WRONG choice. The escalating whines of "we wouldn't have done it like that" are only exceeded by the deafening silence about what they WOULD have done instead.

Hard Labour did actually LOSE the election and it would show a little GRACE if they would just accept that people chose austerity NOW rather than running up more DEBTS for LATER.

Instead, this refusal to accept that Hard Labour's policies have been REJECTED by the voters is making them sound like SPOILED BABIES.

Worse, when voters vote "YES" to "time for a change", it means "leave it the way it was" is really NOT a credible alternative. Which means that Hard Labour haven't actually GOT any policies at all.

At least not beyond spitting "TRAITOR!!!!" at the Liberal Democrats in a way that confirms everyone's suspicions about why we SHOULDN'T have had a coalition with selfish deluded THEM!

Mr Balls may THINK that brazenly honking about how "Mr Borogove will DECIMATE the education service" SOUNDS good, but it just doesn't make SENSE!

"Decimate" means "reduce by one tenth" (yes, I've seen "Last of the Time Lords"), and that's merely the LEAST of Mr Borogove's options.

Hang on, I'm not helping…

I think it would be a good idea to lower the rhetoric on BOTH sides a bit.

If the Coalition could maybe agree to STOP saying how Labour "spent all the money" and "there's none left" every five minutes, perhaps Labour could agree that they will stop saying that every SINGLE thing the Coalition does is BOUND to cause a double-dip recession and sixty-million people in perpetual unemployment.

Not least because what's the POINT?

I'm sure it makes THEM feel a lot better about being such BAD LOSERS, but it won't benefit them at the election in five years: if they're right they'll win anyway, and no amount of "we told you so" will make them look anything other than SMUG about the misery of people they're supposed to represent; if they're wrong, they'll no doubt deny everything anyway. And in the meantime, all they're doing is spreading fear and misery.

So let's all just drop it.

Then Labour could go away and have their leadership contest and actually decide some POLICIES; and the Coalition can have some time to see if the policies THEY are trying are any good or not.

And then we might ALL learn something.


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