The count-out begins

Over the past week two heavyweights of British politics faced off against each other, again, and again, and again. Gove threw the first punch, kick starting a match off  that is sure to continue throughout the duration of this parliament.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week’s main event. In the blue (and slightly yellow) corner, the elected representative from Surrey Heath; MP since 2005; the Secretary of State for Education…Michael ‘The Cleaner’ Gove! In the red corner, the elected representative from Morley and Outwood (Just); MP since 2005…Ed ‘Spender’ Balls; brought to you by the people of Great Britain, in association with the Lib Dems…Lets get ready to crumble!!!!!

Round One – Last Monday saw Gove land the first knock down after he announced that he was axing the BSF programme. Although it wasn’t a knock down that was entirely unexpected by Balls and his team, he was still sent reeling from the loss of his Education legacy. Gove wins the fist round; Gove 10 – 8 Balls

Round Two – However, Balls was soon up off the canvas as he started throwing some counter attacking punches on Newsnight that very evening. Gove almost went down as Balls came in with a crunching uppercut. An uppercut that was delivered not from his own hands but that of the Permanent Secretary for Education. That afternoon, Balls had received an apology from the secretary over claims that Gove had made during the announcement in the House that afternoon. Bewildered by this assault, Gove was left blinking, his eyes stinging from the pain that surged through his body from this winding body blow. However, the wiley Scotsman wasn’t finished, he countered with the charge that Balls had made a large mess and he was cleaning it up. These two seemed to throw counter punch after counter punch at each other until Paxman, the ever vigilant referee, broke them apart as the bell sounded. Both fighters landed some strong blows in that round so honours even; Gove 10-10 Balls

Round Three – After a motivating pep talk from his corner, Balls came out swinging at the sound of the bell. It turned out that he didn’t need to. In a strange twist, Gove had spent the interval punching himself in the head with the assistance of his own corner. Gove now lay withering on the canvas…Balls, arms aloft, danced around the media outlets claiming victory. Gove was all but out, the countout was ringing in his ears…members of his own corner were baying for his blood…Gove, however, was saved by the bell. Balls storms round three; Gove 8 – 10 Balls

Round Four – Firing on all cylinders now, Balls jumps from his stool as the bell sounds, pumped up, scenting blood. He charges into the ring and demands an apology, which Gove feels like a right cross slamming into his jaw. For a full 30mins Gove stands, Rockyesque, as punches are thrown and land like hammer blows to his coalitions…spurned on by the few remaining voices of support from his blue corner, the voices from the red corner fail to land the killer haymaker. Once again Gove survives and staggers back to his corner. Balls wins the fourth round; Gove 8 – 10 Balls

Round Five Nothing round really. Balls and his red corner, dance around, slightly tired from their unrelenting attacks of the previous rounds. Gove hides in the corner occasionally sticking his neck out to apologise once again. Both opponents feeling the pace; Gove 10 – 10 Balls

Round Six – Has Gove been using the risky Rope-a-Dope strategy? Well just when it looks like he could be down and out, punched out, ready to throw the towel in, he delves deep and finds something. He looks into the stands as he sits, waiting on his bench, he sees a mystical figure, he cries out through bloodied lips CAMERON!! What was said could only be conjecture, it seemed to do the trick, Gove came out of his corner, cocked locked and ready to rock! Gove lived up to his name to land a few killer blows of his own. Every charge that was thrown at him he ducked with ‘it’s all their fault’. With every tired punch he countered with ‘it’s all your mess’. When it came to blocking those haymaker punches he simply held his guard up high to his face and proclaimed ‘you left us with no choice’. An Ali like recovery; Gove 10 – 9 Balls (Gove 57 – 58 Balls)

The fight will continue but as it stands Balls is ahead by one point. Who are the real winners of all this political sparring? Sadly I don’t think it’s parents, teachers, building contractors and most importantly children. Some will argue that the BSF programme was highly bureaucratic and riddled with over spends. However, most will argue that the end justifies the means. Value for money shouldn’t come in to it.

The BSF programme leaked money not because it was a bad idea, it leaked money because it was badly managed. If a school starts to fail because it’s badly managed, you get rid of the Head teacher and you employ someone who can get the school back on track. You don’t simply close the school and say everything about it was failing. What better way to prove that the previous government weren’t up to the job?

We all know that Gove has cancelled BSF for ideological and political reasons. The money that he will save will go towards funding his ‘Free School’ project. It mustn’t come as a surprise that on the list of cancelled projects, academies don’t feel the same level of disappointment as state controlled secondary schools. Once Gove has managed to divert all funding to his pet projects, and as a consequence state controlled schools fall even further behind, he can sit back in his blue corner and pontificate about how successful his ideas were.

Sadly I feel that cancelling the BSF programme was the real and hardest felt haymaker thrown this week. It knocked state education to the canvas, the countdown began, and unless we help it back to its feet, the fight could now nearly be over.

Advertisements

Lasting moment of change?

So it’s all change at the top…yesterday saw the start of something special, something very special. That’s right yesterday saw the start of Junior Apprentice…over the next few weeks we get to see ‘Lord’ Alan beat the shit out of little, annoying teenagers, most probably because they are little, annoying teenagers. Ironic really that as we see the birth of a new government, a government rooted in the Thatcherite policies of old, that we also see on our screens the birth of the next generation of ‘Loads-A-Monies’.

So we ask the question, has this new Con-Dem government really brought the change in politics that they proclaim so loudly? Nick Clegg has spent the past 4 weeks trying to convince everyone, which he has done to some degree, that he is the 2nd coming (the first of course is his new friend Dave Cameron). He has told us repeatedly that he wants to change the way that Westminster works, that “the only choice you have is between the two old parties who’ve been taking it in turns to run things for years.”, hitting us with his campaign mantra of ‘Change that works for you, building a fairer Britain’. We all know where ‘Dave’ stands on change, its change this, change that, vote for change. Well how well do Con-Dem stand up to this idea of change? Lets look at some figures (Courtesy of Newsnight);

  • 65% of the the new cabinet went to either Oxford or Cambridge (15% of Tony Blair’s first cabinet were Oxbridge)
  • 61% of the new cabinet were educated at private schools
  • 4 members of the cabinet are women (would we even have Theresa May in the cabinet if Chris Grayling, ironically, hadn’t come out as a raving homophobe (the word ‘change’ once again rings loudly in the ears. Their were 8 women in Blair’s & 5 in Brown’s first cabinet)
  • 1 cabinet member is from an ethnic minority (she’s also a woman)
  • There are no ethnic minority MPs within the Parliamentary Lib Dem party.

Surely if you want to sell a different type of politics then you need a different type of face? What we see is that the change that they offered was a change from a progressive, representative cabinet to a change back to a government that now once again looks very white, very male, very upper middle class and very elitist. At least the Tory party from the 70’s and 80’s had a woman that was there simply not to make up the numbers.

Where does that leave them on the ‘change’ front? Well after 3 years of rebranding from ‘Dave’ and all the trumpeted ‘change’ nonsense from ‘Nick’ we see very little change in the look of the government. How about the ‘change’ to their policies? Lets take the ‘Big Society’ that Dave offered us.

When Cameron stated in his first speech as PM that he wanted to ‘change’ Britain from ‘One where we don’t just ask what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities’, he was selling his vision of change to the country. 23 years earlier Maggie stated that ‘People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations’. The words may have changed but the sentiment hasn’t – its worth noting that Maggie also said in the same speech that ‘there was no such thing as society’ – we all know what happened next – society itself crumbled…we are still suffering the hang-over from that 80’s party.

So in the same week that the budding ‘Loads-a-monies’ of the early 21st century launch their quest for loads of money, the old ‘Loads-of-monies’ of the late 20th century launch their quest for change…the only problem is, they haven’t!

The government of change. Source BBC