Monday 25 March 2013

No Confidence

Probably a third, and certainly a quarter, of the members of the ATL will have voted Conservative even in 2010. Half or more would have been open to persuasion in that direction until Michael Gove came along. Few, if any, will do so in 2015, because of Michael Gove, the first Education Secretary in whom it has ever passed a Motion of No Confidence. No militants, they.

Anyone who really believed in "The Blob" would be mentally ill. That would certainly make Gove more interesting than the only other thing that he shows any sign of being: one of Rupert Murdoch's creations ex nihilo, all as thick as two short planks, but utterly convinced of their own brilliance and entitlement, and more than happy, insofar as they understand what is being done, to go along with the fabrication of myths of their rapier-like intellects, their voracious reading, their broad culture, their scintillating conversation, their irresistible charm, their staggering capacity for work, their dazzling originality of thought, and so on.

Margaret Thatcher. Tony Blair. George W Bush (although no one was ever daft enough to believe such things about him, but courtiers such as Andrew Roberts do still try and make these claims for him, even now). Michael Gove. The unutterable decline of British political journalism has never been more apparent than in the rave reviews for Gove's execrable performance on last week's Question Time. He could have read out the telephone directory and his own kind would have hailed him as a genius. Evidently, next to most of them, he is.

But the ATL is wrong to compare Gove's schools policy to the privatisations of the 1980s, disastrous though those have undoubtedly proved, with a cold March threatening to turn off our gas supply at any moment. No, what Gove is doing is creating a network of nationalised schools, answerable only to the Secretary of State. Does it never occur to him or to his supporters the power that that will hand to the next, Labour Secretary of State for Education? No, of course not.

No wonder that the Blairites came up with these schemes in the first place, but could not get them past a party which still had a municipal base, and 50 per cent of the members of which were teachers. The keenness of that Blairite ultra, Stephen Twigg, is, in his own terms, entirely understandable. Meaning that he should no more be in his job than Liam Byrne ought to be in his.

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