Tuesday, May 22, 2007

David Cameron on Grammar schools (R4 Today)

My wife just called me downstairs to listen to what David Cameron was saying in his interview on the Today program this morning.

To my disappointment David Cameron still doesn't seem to get why he's in so much trouble over his dumping of Grammar schools. Let me explain:

    1) He really is dumping Grammar schools, despite his protestations that the last Conservative government didn't build any new ones anyway. Why ? Because as soon as the Conservative party stops defending those schools the wolves of socialism and the educational establishment will close for the kill - see an example here. As I've said before the argument will be that even the Conservatives don't support them any more.
    2) Grammar schools prove what is possible - by removing them ( and see 1) that's what the impact of these announcements will be - if only by another's hands ) there will be no bench mark to show what possible.
    3) The attack on the middle classes in David Willetts speech ( they're monopolising the good schools) and the insistence of using the free school meals measure ( despite the fact everyone knows the argument is totally inappropriate ). The message here is that the middle classes are selfish and should dam well allow the government to destroy the education of their children in the latest educational experiment, whilst it will continue to be OK for Conservative party MPs to send their children to selective at 13 independent schools which will have no truck with trendy educational initiatives. (You may be able to argue that the new policies will make everything better for everyone and they sound fine, but we've seen the experimental initiatives before. It takes 4 years or longer to admit they fail [ see GCSEs and course work or the dumbed down A levels ] during which time a lot of children's education will have been ruined.
    4) Only William Hague can talk about Comprehensive education will the authority of having been their himself. The pictures being run in the press of the shadow cabinet and where they went to school, and in David Willetts case sent his children to school - shows a I'm all right Jack attitude.

The whole thing has been mishandled. (Yes it has - and admitting that is needed to draw the poison. ) I saw Caroline Hunt on 18DS Vox Politics last night and she doesn't get why there is such a fuss. Unfortunately neither does Dave. Well let me tell them that it isn't because we don't understand the business of party loyalty - its because we are very very angry. Not over just Grammar schools - but over the direct and insulting attack on the parental aspiration of many of their fellow party members and the middle class in general. Many will be angry enough to vote for another party in the secrecy of the polling booth.

Finally - and I didn't think I'd ever here myself saying this - thank you to the Today prog for putting Cameron on the spot, especially over the point of the aspirations of the middle classes. He needs to realise that Leadership isn't just about being in charge, but also about listening and knowing your party. If he really has picked a fight with his party over this, which he denies, then he has made a very very bad mistake.

PS Let me suggest that knowing when to say sorry is part of leadership also.


See UK Daily Pundit for a far more succinct explanation of what sort of trouble David Cameron has made for himself.

08:58 I can now hear left wing commentator on R4 closing in for the kill on Grammar schools - that was quick ! He now arguing against setting - saying most kids benefit from having the brighter kids in their group ( ie sacrifice the education of the bright for the less able ).

Tim Montgomerie was on Today at 7:16am (listen again here ) and has a piece on this on Conservative home here.

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