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Darling v Gove, Osborne and help the rich squad is No Contest

Posted on 19 January 2010 | 10:01am

After shadow education secretary Michael Gove’s barely comprehensible (especially after he ‘explained’ it) ‘toffs for teachers’ elitist schooling plan, the Tories have now turned their attention to child poverty.

According to the FT’s Nick Timmins, one of the most reliable public policy journos around (sorry, I know how that will damage him but it is true) the Tories are changing indicators of deprivation so that it will become ‘hard to identify or measure progress.’

That is handy I must say, as with their policies so clearly skewed towards the top end, there won’t be any progress towards ending child poverty!

Mr Timmins, who wrote a seminal book on welfare, reports that the Tories will move away from income as the main measure of poverty to take in ‘a matrix of measures’ which build ‘a richer picture.’

My God, even when they’re talking about poverty, they can’t get the R word out of their minds. Perhaps this should be the new slogan under the next airbrushed Cameron poster – For Richer, For Richer.

Meanwhile in the next column we learn that top Tory spin doctor Steve Hilton has sent Tory candidates on a green ‘re-education’ programme. This follows a survey showing Tory candidates couldn’t give a toss about ending the planet so long as they and their mates do really well out of a Tory government. (I paraphrase). This sits badly with Dave’s admittedly superficial greening, the one that gave us a tree as a logo and a bike in the boot of the car to wheel out whenever photographers hove into view.

Meanwhile on pages 1 and 3 an altogether more sensible, mature and thought through politician in the form of Alistair Darling. Many politicians of lesser weight and resilience would have buckled in the face of the global financial crisis. Alistair has emerged as a stronger figure and whilst he may not have the charisma we keep being told the public want from their leaders, he has the calm and the character.

So when, as today, he talks about the need for spending cuts in some areas to get the deficit under control, I think most fair-minded people would rather see him taking on that task than George Osborne, who for doubtless Hilton-inspired reasons has gone a bit low profile again.

Good to see the FT putting the entire transcript of the interview on their website. With most speeches and interviews it is always good to read the whole thing, not just the bits taken out for a headline or two.

And if it is amusement you’re after, get the transcript of some of Gove’s interviews on toffs for teachers.

If it is serious-minded government you prefer, call for Darling.

  • Gerry Palmer

    All very well but if that is the case why did the PM want to get rid of him and put Balls in there? I suppose Darling saw that off and that gives him a bit of strength but it is not very good for the public if they think the PM wanted someone else

  • Todd Jamieson

    I heard Gove yesterday and I couldn’t fathom it. Wants the brightest and best to become teachers … er how if money tight and cuts etc … er, well, want brightest and best … yes but how … er teaching should matter .. but it already does, how do you get the best to want to do it … er by wanting it … I think

  • Helena Freeman

    This is just a case of Alastairs sticking together! Don’t blame you though. I think AD would be more reliable in a fight than Mr Balls. Good job AD saw him off. Not an appealing man. Not as bad as Gove though. What is he on??

  • Claire

    I had to smile about the “elitist” teachers plan. As a teacher, who mentored qualifying teachers through their training and NQT year, it is not necessarily the most academic (on paper) people that make good teachers!

    Ii found that those who had to work hard for their education, in that they faced the odd failure here and there (obviously not their degree) can relate more to how young people learn, than those who have perhaps gone through a smoother route. More clever and able teachers, can find it frustrating when pupils seem unable to learn.

    That is broad brush strokes. I am sure there are many marvellous teachers out there that have excellent degrees from revered institutions. But the message yesterday seemed to be, if you didn’t go to private school and then a red brick Uni, then we do not want you as a teacher.

  • Richard

    “Toffs for teachers” – oh come on!! This is just becoming pathetic bottom-scraping infantile name calling. I really enjoyed your Dacre stuff recently and thought we had an end to all the Eton class war nonsense that demeans you and your party. Improving the quality of teachers is by far the most important and brave move that any party would need to address in education. Even Steve Richards gives the Tories credit for that. But not you. Oh no. You just call them names and run away. Poo knickers, you knob! This is really very shoddy stuff Alastair, very poor indeed.

  • paul

    I’ve thought Gove was a supercilious pratt ever since he used the word ‘echt’ on Radio 4 in an effort to sound clever. There’s a perfectly good English word to use – ‘authentic’. All he saved was two syllables. And why doesn’t he wear his glasses on the telly? Is it an image thing?

  • Colin

    To borrow a line; Michael Gove is just a man trying to work out what his name is the past tense of.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    You got me crying with laughter this time – brilliant!

    Alistair Darling said in December that public spending would be ‘flat’. He said in January that it would be the worst spending round for 20 years. Respect.

    Frankly I’d rather have my cat than Darling and I don’t even have a cat.

  • David Kingston

    More half-baked nonsense for the sake of a one day wonder sound-bite. It is hard enough to recruit and retain teachers even in a recession – you only have to look at the expensive advertising campaign for evidence. So Gove and Dave want to restrict recruitment to higher level degree holders. These graduates, by their very nature, are the most in demand and therefore the most expensive. The only way this could work is with a massive pay rise for all teachers. I’ll let anyone reading this decide on how likely that is especially after Dave’s announcements on public sector pay and funding.

    By the way, I have finally seen Dave’s airbrushed poster – the Tories rarely bother round here. He looks quite weird. Can we encourage them to put a few more up?

  • Wyrdtimes

    Hasn’t Darling done a fantastic job? Biggest debt in the countries history. Amazing. Or do can we pin that on the ineptitude of his predecessor?