Sunday News Review

The real meaning of a U-turn

Education secretary Michael Gove has been accused of creating schoolsfor the middle classes after it was revealed that more than a third of his “free schools” will open in the most affluent areas. The government promised to provide all children with “access to the kind of education only the rich can afford” when it launched the policy of allowing parents to set up schools free from local authority control. However, an analysis of the 32 free schools set to open in the next academic year shows 13 are in the most affluent half of England with only two in the 10% most deprived areas and 10 in the 20% most deprived areas, as ranked by the government’s English Indices of Multiple Deprivation, 2010. Less than a fifth of them are opening in the north of England, while half are set to open in the south and southeast. – the Guardian

Michael Gove said they were “accelerating the pace of reform” and the review was needed because of the growth in academies. Councils provide support services such as special needs education for state schools, but not academy schools. Ministers had said the grant to provide such services would be cut by £148m this year and £265m next year. Mr Gove told the BBC some Labour local authorities were “a bit unhappy” about the pace of reform, but “the truth is at the moment we’re actually providing funding to local authorities and to schools for the same service”. The education secretary said they had to make sure the taxpayer “is not paying twice”. Labour says the decision shows changes are being pushed through too quickly. “This is the third time in a year that Michael Gove has had to U-turn under the threat of legal action,” shadow education secretary Andy Burnham said. “And the reason that it keeps happening is that he is railroading his policies through without proper consultation, without listening to parents, to teachers, to local councillors.” – This Day

Where do we go from here?

Before Ed Miliband appointed Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor, he consulted Tony Blair. Miliband, who has grown close to Blair since becoming leader, wanted to know what the former Prime Minister thought about the move. Would it just lead to a rerun of the Blair-Brown years, with the Chancellor destabilising his boss? Straight after winning the leadership, Miliband made a deliberate choice not to make Balls Shadow Chancellor. He feared that if he did, it would make it harder for him to chart a new course on the economy. But with Alan Johnson, the man Miliband had appointed, resigning because of family matters, the Labour leader had to decide whether to risk open hostilities with Balls by snubbing him again. They have tried to copy the successful Cameron-Osborne relationship by merging their two offices, as the Tory pair did in opposition. But Balls has maintained a room of his own elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster and the two staffs remain far more distinct than those of Cameron and Osborne. – Daily Mail

I am here to defend Ed Balls. The documents published last week are valuable primary sources for contemporary historians, but they do not prove that he was a plotter. There is no email there to Labour MPs frustrated by Blair’s failure to recognise their ability, such as Chris Bryant and Sion Simon, saying: “What about writing a letter to TB to tell him that the game is up?” We know that there was a plot, because Bryant, Simon and 13 others wrote that letter in September 2006, and one minister – Tom Watson – and seven parliamentary private secretaries resigned. We know, too, that Gordon Brown was responsible for it, (a) because he could have stopped it and (b) because it is completely obvious. I have always assumed that Balls knew all about it, and discussed it with Brown and other members of the Stable and Orderly Transition Task Force, but that he did not telephone, text or email possible resigners himself. – John Rentoul, the Independent

They still don’t get it

The row over David Cameron’s ditching of a high-profile female candidate flared up again last night amid claims that a senior Tory official described her pregnancy as a ‘disability’. A furious letter written by Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, complaining about his sister Annunziata’s exclusion from the Conservatives’ list of parliamentary candidates, condemns as ‘contemptible’ a remark allegedly made to Ms Rees-Mogg at a meeting last week. In the letter to 10 Downing Street, Mr Rees-Mogg says that the official, Giles Inglis-Jones, told Annunziata – who was eight months pregnant at the time of her crucial selection meeting in February – that ‘he knows all about pregnancy as he has five children’. Mr Rees-Mogg wrote: ‘From my own experience a man’s role and knowledge of pregnancy is somewhat different from a woman’s’, before adding lethally: ‘It was also suggested that Annunziata could have ticked the box for “disability”, but I feel most reasonable people would call that a contemptible suggestion. – Daily Mail

Clegg boasts as Tories grimace

Nick Clegg last night boasted that he had forced David Cameron to ditch plans to bring more ­private firms into the NHS. The Lib-Dem leader’s allies claimed victory saying the PM had performed a U-turn on key parts of his unpopular revamp of the health service after their protests. Mr Clegg’s supporters said Mr Cameron had agreed to rule out any competition in the NHS “based on price” after critics warned it would pave the way for the ­backdoor privatisation of the NHS. But the boast will infuriate Tory MPs and further humiliate Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. – Daily Mirror

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One Response to “Sunday News Review”

  1. Julian says:

    “an analysis of the 32 free schools set to open in the next academic year shows 13 are in the most affluent half of England with only two in the 10% most deprived areas and 10 in the 20% most deprived areas”

    As these schools are set up by volunteers and not by the government, the government has no control over where they get set up. Perhaps local Labour parties could set up free schools in less deprived areas. There is obviously no prohibition against this as you mention that two free schools are already in most deprived areas.

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