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Beware the detail in coalition ‘U-turn’ on school sport

Posted on 18 December 2010 | 12:12pm

The papers are being briefed that the government is to perform a U-turn on the planned scrapping of School Sports Partnerships. This is to be announced as early as Monday. It is also to be placed in the category marked ‘keep an eye on the detail’, and ‘don’t fall for the spin’.

‘Key elements’ of SSPs, the reports are saying ‘will be retained’. Ah, key elements! In other words, David Cameron has been persuaded that Michael Gove has made an arse of things,  that the timing could not be worse because of the Olympics coming down the track, that the backlash is real and will get worse, and could even grow to tuition fees proportion and so he wants it sorted out. But Gove wants to sort it in a way that doesn’t make him look a complete fool for having gone for the axe in the first place. So let’s try the ‘key elements’ route and swallow all that nonsense he has been spouting about the failure of the scheme.

So the U-turn headlines are to be welcomed by all who have been campaigning against this daft decision. But a headline is not a policy shift, and campaigners should be wary when the announcement comes.

Talking of campaigns, good luck to Labour candidate Debbie Abrahams in the upcoming Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.

The Tories will be furious locally that Cameron has been so nice about the Lib Dems up there. He was droning on about the ‘context’ being Phil Woolas being sacked as MP because of lies he told about his Lib Dem opponent.

As Phil has pointed out, admittedly via a Private Eye spoof, Nick Clegg lied about Lib Dem policy and ended up as deputy prime minister. Any embarrassment over the ‘context’ should not stop Labour from pointing this out, specifically in the context of tuition fees. But a look at Lib Dem sports policy might be in order too.

  • Max Headroom

    Quite right Alastair. They’ll use the Daily Fail to promulgate how considerate and “progressive” they are. Labour need to regroup quickly and take on Government soon. Come on Ed get it together now. It should have been David but Ed it is. THE COALITION IS FALLING APART http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12025402

  • Heather Maloney

    I saw the Guardian story on this and couldmn’t believe how easily they took the government line. I agree with your earlier blog that the government just do not understand the broader purpose of school sport and they blundered into this. I agree too they will have to change tack but as they still won’t get the point, we have to be vigilant.

  • Heather Maloney

    I saw the Guardian story on this and couldmn’t believe how easily they took the government line. I agree with your earlier blog that the government just do not understand the broader purpose of school sport and they blundered into this. I agree too they will have to change tack but as they still won’t get the point, we have to be vigilant.

  • Arthur Henderson

    I too hope the by-election is as much about the Lib Dems policy positions as anything else. I look forward to the first Clegg visit. I hope students, EMA victims, school sport cuts victims get out in force and throw their weight behind Debbie who, from what I have seen so far, will be a good candidate

  • Arthur Henderson

    I too hope the by-election is as much about the Lib Dems policy positions as anything else. I look forward to the first Clegg visit. I hope students, EMA victims, school sport cuts victims get out in force and throw their weight behind Debbie who, from what I have seen so far, will be a good candidate

  • Sarah Dodds

    Can someone give me something that Gove has not made an arse of so far. If I had handled things so badly at work, my school would be right to get rid of me. Oh …..hang on a minute…….
    But seriously, does anyone else think that Michael Gove and Julian Assange could be mysteriously related? They both seem to have that self-righteous, holier than thou slimeball thing going on.

  • Quinney

    Re Phil Woolas, the way he was treated was disgusting. I would like to see how Harman and the Islington elite would combat the LibDems in an election.