Friday, May 18, 2007

What if Gordon Brown promised new Grammar schools ?

The heat has dropped in the tea rooms of the palace of Westminster over the two Davids miscalculation on Grammar school support.

Yes we've all been told to go a and read what was actually said - but we all know its the message that counts. What MiaS heard was an accusation that Grammar schools were monopolised by those evil middle class people and that they wouldn't, indeed couldn't, be defended any more. David Cameron has attempted to back track by offering to get rid of the mechanism that allows Grammar schools to be abolished locally - but this illustrates the scale of the strategic mistake that was made. Nobody thought a David Cameron would abolish Grammar schools - but failure to give vocal support would allow a socialist government to abolish them, and to back the case by quoting directly from Conservative party policy ! Hence Dave's move to try and bolt this door, all a bit too late.

But what if Gordon Brown decided to support and indeed increase Grammar schools ? ( He could tinker with 11+ and have a campus type system with people able to transfer schools at latter times ). It would be his clause 4 (teaching unions / education academics and other general lefties furious etc ), not Dave's, and the middle classes would be simultaneously astonished, grateful and reassured.

Frankly it could deliver Gordon Brown the next general election. Blair would have seen the gap - but will Gordon ?

That's the importance of the strategic mistake that the Daves Willetts and Cameron made this week. You have to just hope the Brown camp can't capitalise on it.

Update: Those folks over at Labour Home see it more as an opportunity to kill of Grammar schools rather than to take electoral advantage. ( Their logic is as always completely divorced from reality - I'll leave you a small quote below.)

A Labour Home poster Mike Ion is quoted as saying (emphasis is mine - on the stuff the myself and most other Conservatives strongly disagree on - not sure where he gets his expectations from really.):

    "With the Conservatives now convinced that grammar schools are bad for Britain and with the nation about to have a new Prime Minister in need of some passion-rousing policies that will unite his movement’s natural supporters and signal a shift towards a more radical and egalitarian agenda, are we nearing the time when selection by ability will finally be abolished for good? Almost all of the main political parties in Britain now agree that getting rid of selection in England’s schools (there is no selection in Wales or Scotland and it is on the way out in Northern Ireland) would produce an immediate improvement in the overall exam performance of the nation’s children, reduce poverty and inequality in many of our most deprived inner-city areas and overtly and transparently attack privilege that all too often masquerades as excellence...." (Full post here ).

Its hard to know whom to be more depressed by ....

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