Tag Archives: David Cameron

Michael Gove’s solution to political meddling in A-levels? More political meddling

The Conservative party is continuing in its crusade to make Britain a place safe for Daily Express readers in the hope that turning the clock back will win David Cameron an overall majority at the next general election.

Into the EU wilderness

The prime minister’s promise on Wednesday of on in-or-out referendum threatened to make the recession permanent by leading the country out of the EU and into the economic wilderness.

The poor are fat

Then Anna Soubry, allegedly a health minister, claimed to be able to spot poor people because they tend to be overweight. But she still blamed the parents for filling up their children with bad food, while relying on voluntarism to achieve reductions in the fat, salt and sugar content of products made by members of the Food and Drink Federation.

Education policy based on prejudice

And Michael Gove announced that the solution to political meddling with A-level exams was more political meddling with A-level exams.

The education secretary never makes policy based on evidence when he can make it based on prejudice against the state system. He must believe in six impossible things before breakfast each day, and instruct his civil servants to implement them in our schools before the consequences have been considered. Of which just the latest is that headteachers and their staffs will be managing the introduction of the Ebacc for 16-year-olds at the same time as ripping up modular A-levels for a return to the memory test of exams at the end of two years and stand-alone AS-levels.

Full square behind him are the Russell Group of elite universities, fighting the corner for the traditional subjects they champion: mathematics and further mathematics, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and modern and classical languages.

His critics for this latest initiative to stifle creativity in our young people included the University of Cambridge, industrialists, the Association of School and College Leaders (who must clearly be worried about how schools and colleges will be able to find leaders in the future given their workload and burnout rates) and Labour – accused by Gove of the meddling that he cannot resist every hour he remains in office.

By the end of the day, Gove’s latest wheeze for a winning policy (to get him into No 10 in Cameron’s stead?) had slipped off the Daily Mail online front page, and was receiving a far from universal welcome from readers. Sadly, it was still carrying the mistyped headline: University chiefs will vet tougher new A-level that aims to end ‘resist culture’ that has led to dumbing down of qualification.

I couldn’t resist a smile at the error, but it’s a tragedy for sixth formers that their efforts are still being belittled by this government’s every pronouncement.

 

 

 

David Cameron and the Costas question

Is Britain sleepwalking towards the exit door from the European Union under David Cameron, as Ed Miliband fears, or will the prime minister wake up and smell the coffee before making his on-again speech about Europe?

As a country we’ve never really got Europe since belatedly arriving at the party. We demand always to be treated as a special case, like the spoiled brat at a sleepover. Westminster politicians bewail their loss of influence while blocking efforts to improve direct EU democracy.

Press coverage driven by owners who prefer to turn nation against nation – usually England v Germany, but any Johnny Foreigner will do for the likes of Simon Heffer – has been another obstacle to understanding that the EU was always about greater economic and political integration for the benefit of its people, not just a free-for-all for big business and the hated Eurocrats.

People are entitled to ask what Brussels has done for us. One answer is that it would have been a lot more without opt-outs from the employment directives intended to give workers some protections in a single market of 500 million, or the Schengen agreement on open borders that enshrines freedom of movement within Europe – giving true meaning to the exhortation to get on your bike to look for work while giving labour the power to seek the highest wages.

There is loose talk of Europeans from poorer countries swamping the nation from Boston to Bognor, as if nary a Brit ever decamped for the Costas or Corfu. No mention of the businesses young Poles and Portugese are setting up in otherwise empty shops on our high streets? They’re hardly a drain on the benefits system – more a reminder to the supermarkets to boost the choice of continental foods on their shelves.

The growing number of UK students taking degrees on the European mainland, to escape ever increasing tuition fees, find their horizons expand beyond the passport control queues at our borders.

Business doesn’t entirely get it, with some in the City backing an in or out referendum, apparently oblivious that quitting the EU will hasten takeover deals that relocate the financial capital of Europe to anywhere but this island Square Mile. But they’re the bankers, the forex and futures dealers with only tougher regulation to anticipate as the Eurozone tries to head off another mauling by speculators and ratings agencies accountable to no-one.

In the real economy should the UK step outside the single market, with no special deals likely, watch the Chinese, Japanese and Indian owners of manufacturing businesses in the Midlands or the North start to shut their factories here and shift across the channel.

The EU is far from perfect but you can’t change the rules of a club from outside. When Tories and Ukip talk about diluting Britain’s membership and repatriating powers, or quitting the EU altogether, they’re proposing to surrender influence over the people with whom we do at least half of our business. That’s not a recipe for the job creation and living wages the UK’s young people need, but for a perpetual cycle of decline in a low-wage economy with a shrinking role on the world stage.

Is that the legacy David Cameron wants? This week we will have part of the answer.