National politics

Brown’s speech

Gordon BrownI don’t normally cover national politics but Gordon Brown’s emetic speech yesterday to the Labour conference has spurred me into action.

The first passage I came to was:

I attended the local state primary school in Kirkcaldy a few streets away from where I lived – and then I took the school bus to the local secondary school up the hill.

This really is disingenuous rubbish. Between 1958 and 1972 Kirkcaldy High School, Brown’s alma mater, was “the only provider of senior secondary education in the area” according to that school’s current prospectus. Gordon Brown went to the only grammar school in the area but the arch spinner describes it as the “local secondary school up the hill”. Remember Brown lost his eye playing rugby at a public school-aping grammar.

After a lot more blather the Chancellor talked about personalising education:

Learning personal to each pupil.

Education available to all – not one size fits all but responding to individual needs.

This is the future for our public services. Accessible to all, personal to you. Not just a basic standard but the best quality tailored to your needs. Education is my passion.

It is hard to know how you are going to make education more personal if you believe in command and control as Brown does. In the passage immediately before this guff he laid out more central prescriptions for schools:

And because I want every child to be a reader, every child to be able to count, we have decided that one-to-one tuition will be there in our schools not just for Max, but for 300,000 children in English and 300,000 in maths.

And because we want to unlock all the potential, not just the three R’s, for every pupil as we look ahead with pride to the Olympics we aim for the first time for five hours a week sport and time for arts and music too.

So for every secondary pupil a personal tutor throughout their school years – and starting with 600,000 pupils, small group tuition too.

So we are to have personal services in our 100,000s. Doh!

Brown does the same thing with health. First the rhetoric:

So let me set out how we take the NHS into a new era.

Our great achievement of the 1940s was a service universal to all. In 2007 we need a service that is accessible to all and personal to all.

Our great ambition now: a National Health Service that is also a personal health service.

Then comes the list of centralised prescriptions:

And to make sure every hospital is clean and safe, following best practice around the world, there will be new funds direct to every hospital for a deep clean of our wards.

We will more than double the number of hospital matrons to 5,000. We will give matrons and ward sisters in all 10,000 wards the powers to report cleaning contractors and safety concerns directly to hospital boards and a stronger health care commission.

And I can announce that matrons will have the power to order additional cleaning and send out a message – meet the highest standards of cleanliness or lose your contract.

The guy can’t be truthful about his own roots and is appropriating the whole personalisation shtick to sell his vision of Soviet style centralised services.

One reply on “Brown’s speech”

[…] Gordon Brown, as ever looking for dividing lines, used the phrase “dreamt up on the playing fields of Eton” at PMQs (referring to Conservative plans to raise the inheritance tax threshold). It is all nonsense of course. The majority of our politicians are privileged by definition. This week blogger Working Class Tory listed the 60 Labour MPs that attended public schools and the 100 odd Labour MPs that went to grammar schools. Even these numbers are probably underestimates. They omit Brown himself who went to an elite school and lied about it, see here. […]


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