Opinion: Reshuffle to the Right

The official line is that today’s reshuffle is all about prioritizing the economy – with reasonable evidence for this with Ken Clarke staying on with an economic brief; Cameron beefing up the Whip office and thus backbench discipline; and appointing someone with previous experience of that role – Patrick McLoughlin – to Transport to push through infrastructure projects like HS2.

But the commentary from Twitter to the BBC is already painting this as a move to the right. Lib Dem tweeters are suddenly gloomier about the lifetime of this coalition, but here’s what I think: the Tories have inadvertently given us a windfall.

First of all, a move to the right does no favours to the Conservative party. They failed to win a majority as a modernized party in 2010, and moving backwards won’t help – promoting Jeremy Hunt to Health has sparked jokes about Murdoch buying the NHS, Grayling’s comments about B&Bs refusing gay customers have been brought back to the fore, and overall the reputation of the ‘Nasty Party’ seems back to stay (not to mention George Osborne’s pantomime villain greeting at the Paralympics).

Secondly, and more importantly, any shift to the right boosts our claim to the centre-ground, with breathing space to establish our own identity. And frankly this couldn’t come at a better time with the coalition evolves into a stage of greater differentiation. Now is where we can begin to spell out our own views on what we would do with a Lib Dem in charge of the Justice Department; instead of pandering to Eurosceptics we must tell voters in rural communities like Somerset what the EU can do for them, and how we’d reform it.

And thirdly, with the honeymoon phase completely and utterly over for even those most supportive of our evolution into a party of government, our reason for staying in the coalition is inescapably clear: the economy. Whilst we still have a chance to implement and influence policies through Lib Dem ministers – watch out for a Liberal Democrat stamp on education reforms with David Laws joining
Michael Gove – we can now be unequivocal that we are not Conservatives, we differ with them on a number of social policies, but we have made this sacrifice and continue to do so in the national interest and with a view to getting the economy back on track.

If we can commit ourselves to the task at hand, and take joint ownership of restoring the economy to health, whilst doing what we can to make sure it happens in a fairer, greener and Liberal Democrat way then we can once again look voters in the eye and ask for their support.

* Sean Davey is the Chair of London Liberal Youth

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90 Comments

  • LondonLiberal 4th Sep '12 - 1:21pm

    we can ask. but we won’t get

  • wish I shared your optimism

  • “watch out for a Liberal Democrat stamp on education reforms with David Laws joining”

    yeah right, this far right winger supporter of the Tories will be coming out in support of a new 2 tier exam system with the reintroductions of o Levels. Are you sure that’s something the Liberal Democrats are going to trumpet as a win for the party lol.

    it’s almost like back to the early days when poor old Vince as Business secretary coming out to support in the tripling of tuition fee’s.

    You Libdems really are prone to kicking an own goal into the net which have the Tories Laughing all the way to the Pie Stands.

    dear oh dear

  • How does appointing a right-winger like Laws differentiate you from the tories exactly?

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 2:32pm

    Secondly, and more importantly, any shift to the right boosts our claim to the centre-ground, with breathing space to establish our own identity.
    Not if we are seen as propping up an increasingly right-leaning tory government. That will simply cede the centre-ground to Labour.

    P.S. Be gentle please, matt, this is all quite painful for some of us 🙁

  • Jedi – Matt thinks anyone to the right of Stalin is an extreme right winger.

  • Tony Greaves 4th Sep '12 - 2:51pm

    “watch out for a Liberal Democrat stamp on education reforms with David Laws joining
    Michael Gove ”

    I think Gove will be delighted. I wait with interest to see Laws putting a break on the ludicrous free schools and the disastrous academies programme. Neither supported buy the Liberal Democrats. But that won’t stop Gove and Laws rushing ever onwards.

    This move will do Liberal Democrats great harm in the world or education and schools.

    Tony Greaves

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 2:53pm

    Reports in The Telegraph that Hunt is a big fan of homeopathy. Summed up neatly by “This is not unlike putting someone who thinks the Second World War began in 1986 in charge of the Department of Education.”

  • well i dont think you can class Laws as a Right of Centre politician, he is certainly well into the right, even if far right was a slight exaggeration.

    But whatever, it is a disaster for the Libdems as he is going to be trumpeting Goves Free Schools, and 2 Tier Education System with the reintroduction of the old O Level style exams.

    I do wonder how many more voters this will cost the Libdem, especially from Mothers and students.

  • It certainly looks like a “reshuffle to the right” with the return of David Laws.

  • Alex Sabine 4th Sep '12 - 3:08pm

    @ Sean Davey: “…any move to the right boosts our claim to the centre-ground, with breathing space to establish our own identity.”

    In theory this might present an opportunity, but instead the party leadership seems to prefer indulging in gesture politics and floating half-baked tax ideas which it has no idea how to put into practice…

    Hopefully it is just ritualistic pre-conference posturing, but nonetheless it makes the LDs look both flaky and (because no such idea is going to be implemented) impotent, so it’s not even smart politics on the basest, most populist level.

  • matt – as Andrew Rawnsley (that rabid right-winger) wrote in the Observer, the point of an examination system is to discriminate between candidates to determine relative aptitudes. If everybody gets an A what is the point in sitting exams?

  • Looks like Miliband is the big winner. The promotion of Hunt is ludicrous. Boris already laying into Cameron over sacking of Greening. Osborne tried and failed to eliminate IDS. Big battles over welfare cuts to come. Grayling at justice guaranteed to stoke Coalition friction. And I can see Cameron living to regret installing Grant ‘dodgy’ Shapps as Tory chairman. Is this the omnishambles shuffle? Quite possibly.

  • Tabman, I am not going to get into your usual personal rants which are right off topic.

    My post was clearly my opinion with regards to Laws new appointment and how he will be trumpeting Tory Policies on education that are clearly at odds with The Liberal Democrats position on academias and free schools etc. And the further damage it is going to do the party with a loss of votes from mothers and students.

    You do not need to start rushing out defending the policies already, he has not been ordered to do a vince cable yet and announce the rise in tuition fee’s.

    Give the guy a week in his new job at least before he is on our screens spilling the tory guff, before you feel the need to start defending the “new to be” libdem policy 🙂

  • Your reason for being in, and staying in the Coalition boils down to ideological sympathies, from those at the top of the LibDems, for the philosophy of the Conservative Party. And it will prove to be fatal.

  • Tabman

    So remind me why a 2 tier exam system helps so much seeing it was abolished was done because that system did not work?

    The way of grading made need some work on the understanding that the general aptitude (and professionalism in taking exams) has been increasing so the grades need to e stretched to accommodate this. This has to be well managed but is not impossible and is not particularly problematic (except if it is done mid-year) as long as everyone is aligned and understands that a 2012 A may only be equivalent to a 2013 B or C.

    What is not acceptable is this consistent denigration of students, telling them that their marks are dumbed dowm. I took O Levels in the 80s and it was clear that the amount of work by the teachers and schools in pushing kids through is far more noticeable now that it was then. Kids are not necessarily brighter but they are smarter when it xomes to taking exams.

    If Laws joins in with Gove on this then the party should hold its head in shame

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 3:25pm

    @Tabman Off-topic, but ..“If everybody gets an A what is the point in sitting exams?” Conversely, if every student reached the standard that was previously worth an A grade, why would you want to insist that some would get an A, some a B, and others would be deemed failures? Perhaps we need a new approach to exams and marks (which I think is what Rawnsley concluded in the Observer).

  • Matt

    Sorry I bit!

    I agree with you on Laws. He is a real anomaly. I also cannot understand why the LD are prepared to sacrifice principles in reappointing him. I cannot think of anyone since the war who has been appointed a minister after being barred from the house for a serious breach of the standards’ rules (this does not include messing with the mace or calling someone a liar – fairly low leve offences with a disproportionate penalty imho) since the war.

    Before we get the siren voices saying he did nothing wrong, please refer to the actual wording of the judgement. The only mitigation is the view that he did not do it for personal gain which is only a view and one that was not tested in front of a court

  • It seems all my posts mentioning a certain education minister and asking a rational question are being bounced – vive la démocratie!

  • that one wasn’t so I will try again – is their a precedence for someone being excluded from the HoC (for more than calling someone names) and then gaining a ministerial post. I can find no example since the war

  • bazzasc. Re. LibDems ‘hanging their heads in shame’; judging from what I see and hear from the LibDems I know, many of you guys are doing that already.

  • “our reason for staying in the coalition is inescapably clear: the economy”
    No I do not believe we will be judged on the economy, that will be the downfall or saviour of the conservatives.
    We will be judged on the treatment of the poor and disabled. We will face the public accusation “We expected it of them! But you! We thought you knew better”

    We cannot simple hope for an economic recovery, we will gain nothing.

  • DaveW. Totally agree.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 3:52pm

    @bazzasc “I took O Levels in the 80s and it was clear that the amount of work by the teachers and schools in pushing kids through is far more noticeable now that it was then. Kids are not necessarily brighter but they are smarter when it comes to taking exams.”
    Still off-topic but just wanted to add my agreement to this. I did well in my O-levels in 83, my son has just done well in his GCSEs this year. It is uncertain whether he has studied in more or less depth than I did, but unquestionably he has studied more widely (14 subjects at GCSE or equivalent compared with my 8) and been more focussed on the assessment and exams than I ever was. I am deeply concerned about the messed up examination system that Gove is leaving for my younger children. The first stage seems to be making it impossible for the next cohort to study in as much breadth (because of a single all-or-nothing examination at the end it will be difficult to study as many subjects) whilst keeping the system that allegedly has insufficient depth. It upsets me that my support for the Lib Dems has contributed to this state of affairs.

  • Bazzasc – “What is not acceptable is this consistent denigration of students, telling them that their marks are dumbed dowm. I took O Levels in the 80s and it was clear that the amount of work by the teachers and schools in pushing kids through is far more noticeable now that it was then. Kids are not necessarily brighter but they are smarter when it xomes to taking exams.”

    Denigration of students? Pupils, surely.

    I, too, took O-Levels in the 1980s. The big difference between now and then is (i) the level of coursework which can be “assisted” by teachers and (ii) the modularisation of exams. In the 1980s you sat the exam on the day and you alone were responsible for how well you did.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 3:56pm

    “our reason for staying in the coalition is inescapably clear: the economy.” Then it is a shame that we appear to be screwing up the economy by enthusiastically supporting policies with which we disagreed before the election.

  • Peter Watson – “Conversely, if every student [sic] reached the standard that was previously worth an A grade, why would you want to insist that some would get an A, some a B, and others would be deemed failures? Perhaps we need a new approach to exams and marks (which I think is what Rawnsley concluded in the Observer).”

    The point of the national exam system is to dfferentiate between pupils in a cohort, ie a relative assessment, not to indicate some absolute standard.

  • Tabman

    If that was the case why did we abandon norm marking years ago – have you a link that says that the aim is to differentiate amongst the cohort rather than based on criteria marking. The two are inconsistent, and would also allow no comparison between different cohorts.

    Your opinion is not fact

  • matt – “Tabman, I am not going to get into your usual personal rants which are right off topic. My post was clearly my opinion with regards to Laws new appointment and how he will be trumpeting Tory Policies on education that are clearly at odds with The Liberal Democrats position on academias and free schools etc. And the further damage it is going to do the party with a loss of votes from mothers and students.”

    Ermm … personal rant?

    OK. Please explain what is wrong with academias [sic] and free schools, and why they will be vote losers to mothers and students [sic]. You may also add why they will be vote losers to fathers and pupils too.

  • Tony Greaves 4th Sep '12 - 4:08pm

    I took O levels in 1957. My two daughters took GCSE in the 1990s. In my judgement their general level of intelligence was and is not very different from mine. I have no doubt that to do well in GCSEs at that time required a great deal more work than my GCEs in Gove’s glorious years so long ago.

    Tony Greaves

  • Bazzsac – “If that was the case why did we abandon norm marking years ago – have you a link that says that the aim is to differentiate amongst the cohort rather than based on criteria marking. The two are inconsistent, and would also allow no comparison between different cohorts.

    Your opinion is not fact”

    Correct. But I am not talking about the aim of the educational establishment, but the aim of University admissions tutors and employers to establish the relative merits of their applicants; which is what, at the end of the day, the exam system is for.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 4:09pm

    @Tabman
    ” In the 1980s you sat the exam on the day and you alone were responsible for how well you did.” And what was assessed? How good you were at exams, whether or not you had hayfever in the summer, whether you slept well the night before, … The only thing I’ve ever done in life under exam conditions is exams (and lots of them). At university I had continuous assessment throughout as well as end of year exams, – not a single set of finals after 4 years, and for chemical engineering a design project (ususally carried out in a team) is required for acreditation of the degree course. I don’t believe exams alone are the best way to assess a child’s abilitity or to prepare them for their future, whether that includes work or further academic study.

  • Tony Greaves 4th Sep '12 - 4:10pm

    Academies and free schools (together with Gove’s crazy ideas about teaching and exams).

    They are disrupting the schools system of England and are setting it on a path that wil lead to disaster for most.

    Tony Greaves

  • And to add to that Bazzsac, a member of my family (who votes Labour) works in the University sector and has direct evidence of the remedial work required to bring up the standard of intakes to that of 20 years ago.

  • Steve Griffiths 4th Sep '12 - 4:14pm

    I completely agree with Tony Greaves and others.

    If David Laws does return it will be a reshuffle to the right the Lib dems too. as Ian Watson commented on yesterday evening’s BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, a return of David Laws to cabinet by Nick Clegg would give more “ballast for his wing of the party”. This will do nothing to keep the various wings of the party together and will further allienate the left. Simply continuing to pick Orange Bookers will not get me to return; Nick simply doen’t want us.

  • Peter Watson – I don’t know what secotr you work in, but its commonplace in my line of work to produce quick, accurate work without assistance.

    I go back to my contention – employers and Universities are interested in assessing the individual and exams are the only effective way to assess them as an individual relative to their peers. Coursework is open to cheating, to put it bluntly.

  • Steve Griffiths. Its not about “wings of the party” (a specious argument in any case) but about picking the best available talent. Laws is far and away the most talented of our MPs without a senior job.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 4:17pm

    @Tabman
    “The point of the national exam system is to dfferentiate between pupils in a cohort, ie a relative assessment, not to indicate some absolute standard.”
    Is it?
    “the aim of University admissions tutors and employers to establish the relative merits of their applicants; which is what, at the end of the day, the exam system is for.”
    Why would employers or university admissions tutor want a system that prevents them from making comparisons between candidates from different cohorts, or means they can have no assurance that a grade corresponds to a particular level of skill or knowledge?

  • Tabman

    And I have worked with and in universities and my experience differs from your anecdotes. Who is right?

    Also, is the sole aim of education is to appease certain sectors? Emplyers and admissions staff were saying the same thing 30 years ago. It is not particularly useful is it?

    Norm marking will also prevent differentiation between different years, and this year between those sitting in winter or summer. More and more kids take exams early – something that was a real rarity in the past, despite whatever capability you had.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 4:21pm

    @Tabman “I don’t know what secotr you work in, but its commonplace in my line of work to produce quick, accurate work without assistance.”
    Fortunately I work in an environment where it is commonplace to produce quick accurate work within a team and to have access to plenty of support, such as the internet, academic papers, textbooks, or experienced colleagues, etc.
    I feel sorry for you if your workplace is like an examination hall.

  • Peter Watson “Why would employers or university admissions tutor want a system that prevents them from making comparisons between candidates from different cohorts, or means they can have no assurance that a grade corresponds to a particular level of skill or knowledge?”

    The current system does not permit comparisons between different cohorts; see my comments about remedial requirements in University teaching above.

    Furthermore, the scope of any exam system changes over time so any “absolute” standard is always going to be relative.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 4:23pm

    @Tabman
    “Coursework is open to cheating, to put it bluntly.” Surely that is also an important skill to learn 😉

  • Peter Watson – OK you’ve persuaded me. Claiming the credit for other people’s efforts is of course the quickest route to the top!

  • Tabman

    “The current system does not permit comparisons between different cohorts; see my comments about remedial requirements in University teaching above.”

    Your comments are worthless anecdotes so what does that do to your argument?

  • Tabman

    “The current system does not permit comparisons between different cohorts; see my comments about remedial requirements in University teaching above.”

    Your comments are worthless anecdotes so what does that do to your argument?

  • Pretty much the reshuffle everyone expected. Can the lib Dem’s gain from a Tory shift to the right? It’s hard to see how you can vote with and be seen as apart from the government at the same time. Really, this reshuffle is aimed at stabilising the conservative party. It has zero to do with economy or a fresh approach. I just can’t believe anyone really thinks sticking with this unpopular shambles for another three years is good for the country or the Lib Dems,

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 4:36pm

    @Tabman
    “a member of my family (who votes Labour) works in the University sector and has direct evidence of the remedial work required to bring up the standard of intakes to that of 20 years ago.”
    This is a separate issue from exam marking schemes, and suggests a weakness in those emerging from the “gold standard” A-levels rather than GCSEs. It might also reflect the simple fact that all subjects develop and grow over time: there is more to know about maths, science, economics, history, etc. than there was 30 years ago, but no more time in which to learn it.
    My own belief is that we need a system (more like the scottish?) which allows children to receive a broader education up to 17/18, probably requiring a foundation year before a university degree, rather than forcing them to choose a particular academic career path at the age of 14. I believe this would also be more suitable for those not wishing or able to go to university, or those from lower income families who might not be sufficiently aware of the options available to them.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep ’12 – 4:23pm
    @Tabman
    “Coursework is open to cheating, to put it bluntly.” Surely that is also an important skill to learn

    Well a certain new minister is well positioned to advocate such skills 🙂

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 4:38pm

    @Tabman “OK you’ve persuaded me. Claiming the credit for other people’s efforts is of course the quickest route to the top!” Actually I think the quickest way to the top is blaming others for one’s own failures – that has worked brilliantly for Clegg.

  • If the rest of the UK is going to lurch still further to the right after this reshuffle, it only makes the liberal case for an independent Scotland all the stronger!

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 4:48pm

    @Al “If the rest of the UK is going to lurch still further to the right after this reshuffle, it only makes the liberal case for an independent Scotland all the stronger!” Similarly, it was suggested that the SNP could support the coalition’s boundary reforms in order to create more tory english administrations and strengthen their case for independence.

  • peter Watson – “My own belief is that we need a system (more like the scottish?) which allows children to receive a broader education up to 17/18, probably requiring a foundation year before a university degree, rather than forcing them to choose a particular academic career path at the age of 14. I believe this would also be more suitable for those not wishing or able to go to university, or those from lower income families who might not be sufficiently aware of the options available to them.”

    I concur with that. We also need the option for pupils to take far more vocational courses at 14, and a revised tertiary system that creates dedicated vocational institutions (much in the vein of the old Polys) with a layered approach to vocational learning

  • Bazzasc “Your comments are worthless anecdotes so what does that do to your argument?”

    Whereas yours are pearls of wisdom lol

  • The commenter forgets that any Conservative policy hereafter will require Lib Dem backing. There’s no point being happy about a Tory shift to the right if we end up enabling them!

  • Tabman

    My comments are opinions but I try to avoid anecdotes. You, however, seem to have based a whole argument on them (see quote in my last post).

  • Bazzer: and the difference is … ?

  • Simon Bamonte 4th Sep '12 - 5:24pm

    This is a complete disaster, not only for LDs, but for the whole country.

    We now have a health minister who once wrote that the NHS should be sold off and believes in homeopathy. Hunt, as we all know, faced serious allegations of corruption which our MPs bravely…erm..abstained from voting on. Putting a man who wanted to dismantle the NHS in charge of it, well, I’m sure you can guess the rest. Something about vampires and blood banks.

    Maria Miller is now minister for equality. Her voting records suggest she is not a friend of gay equality. She voted against allowing same-sex couples to adopt, for example, and thinks B&B owners have the right to deny gay couples a place to stay.

    And as for Laws, well. Just look at the comments on the BBC’s Have Your Say site. If someone on Housing Benefit had broken the rules in the way he did, saying the lived at A while living at B (even if they could have claimed more), they would’ve been rehoused at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for benefit fraud. If he had done this in the private sector, he would’ve been sacked and possibly sued for fraud. Those defending him are incredibly out of touch with the public. We’re sick and tired of even tiny hints of rule-breaking and corruption in Westminster. To bring back laws is just a slap in the face to people who work hard and actually follow the rules. Funny how we used to berate Labour and the Tories for bringing back disgraced ministers, eh?

    And it looks like Dave is going to push through another runway at Heathrow, breaking yet another manifesto promise. “Greenest government ever” is yet another hollow bit of PR-speak, which is all the government seems good at.

    And men now outnumber women in the cabinet by 5 to 1.

    Can anyone tell us why we remain in this coalition when we’re getting next to nothing out of it? Can anyone tell me how bringing back Laws, even with his supposed talent, is the “new politics” and represents Clegg’s promise to “clean up Parlimanet”? It’s a disgrace. We, as a party, are now as morally bankrupt as the other two. Principles? Who needs em!

    I’m rather glad I let my membership lapse if this is the future..because the future looks like political oblivion with every day we remain in this “coalition”.

  • Obviously any changes are gong to be portrayed as a lurch to the right, no matter what. Although the appointment of Hunt does seem odd, wasn’t Lansley supposed to be hard right? However, Lansley, it is said, is at least interested in Health.

    Similarly the appoint men t of Laws is odd: does anyone have a clue about his stand on education? I suspect it could go either way, he could end up egging Gove on or he could hold him back.

    I just think there are too many Lib Dems in middle ranking positions in government, who because they are in government are in effect muzzled.

  • Leviticus18_23 4th Sep '12 - 5:59pm

    Simon Bamonte has covered all the main points.

    You can lock this now.

  • Simon Bamonte – its clear you find the world consistently fails to live up to your pristine ideals. I hope you find your reward.

  • paul barker 4th Sep '12 - 6:37pm

    Sean Davey is right, the tories are being dragged to the right by their lunatic fringe while labour are being dragged left by theirs.
    Elections are won on the centre ground.

  • Paul Davey – agree. Hope we’re not dragged off it.

  • Sean Davey writes a reasonably thought out analysis of the consequences for the Lib Dems, and what he seems get get by way of comments is a shouting match between those who seem to think that our current schools and exams system is well nigh perfect and those who think otherwise. While it is clear that universities and FE colleges are having to devote far more effort to dealing with the educational shortcomings of pupils coming out of our school system than was the case 30 or 40 years ago, that could simply be because there are now far fewer relatively well-paid unskilled and semi-skilled jobs available than was the case in the 1950s, 60s and earlier 70s. Moreover, while Ofsted has undoubtedly improved teaching standards, it is impossible to definitively say whether the improvements in GCSE grades is entirely down to this, or whether there isn’t also an element of grade inflation. However Britain has undoubtedly fallen down international educational leagues tables, particularly in comparison to Germany. I do not know whether academies, free schools, the advent of university technical colleges,, or a return to a normative approach to exams, will solve the problem, but surely who criticise the appointment of David Laws should spell out precisely what they would do to improve the situation.

    Returning to the broader implications of the reshuffle for the Lib Dems, surely the sacking of Justin Greening from the Transport portfolio, with its implications of a Tory rethink on Heathrow expansion, comes as a Godsend to Lib Dems in South West London. Whatever Theresa May may claim, it is clear that David Cameron, George Osborne and Grant Shapps (the new Tory Party Chairman) are now all in favour of a third runway at Heathrow. None of these represent London constituencies – and neither does the new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin – so they can happily sacrifice Zac Goldsmith, and even Justin Greening.

  • Graham

    My opposition to Laws is not based on his attitude to education. The guy is discredited and arrogant in the extreme. It does the party no favours.

    You make assertions about us dropping down international tables but from my recollection this data is not that reliable and even the publishers suggest the data cannot be used in this way

    http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/britain-falling-down-the-world-school-league-tables/2148

    This is not to say we should always review how we educate people but the favoured view from 40 somethings (of which I am one) is that current kids are a bit thick and we were better (see Tabman’s annecdotal evidence).

  • paul barker

    I see no evidence of lunatic fringes on either side. Unpleasant from the Tories yet and my criticism of Labour has been more that they are too right wing than left wing. Labour are more right wing than the Tories were in the 70s and I don’t remember them being called ‘lunatic left-wingers’!

    Remember also your party is supporting the Tories so you are part of the ‘lunacy’

    Your party by the way is just a bit sad and will shortly be an irrelevance as it was previously

  • Bazzer. I didn’t say current kids are thick; I said the curriculum they are taught and the exams they are set are easier than 25 years ago which means they are poorly prepared for university. And that is not anecdote it is fact, evidenced by the course my wife wrote and teaches.

  • Indeed it is precisely because there is no significant difference between generations that normative assessment is the only sensible option.

  • Little Jacky Paper 4th Sep '12 - 8:33pm

    Graham – In 1962 my parents left school with barely a certificate between them and walked straight into secure jobs on the local production lines. My Dad always told me that many of the men there couldn’t tell the time. The idea that there ever was a golden age is to ask to be deceived. Are the pupils of today any better, worse or just more polarised than in the past – I honestly don’t claim to know.

    I suspect however that the ideals of an education system that prepared pupils for the local production lines can not translate across generations. And of course, it is far from clear to me that the purpose of a system of assessment should be to ensure some comparability across generations.

    But I would however agree that there is an awful lot of muddled thought about our whole system of education. I had a smiliar discussion recently with a chap who insisted that coursework was the spawn of the devil, and then suggested that we should introduce the IB. One assumes he is not familiar with the coursework requirements of the IB. Coursework and modular education absolutely have their place when done well. As indeed do resits – is a pupil wishing resit an exam not possibly a pupil showing dedication and commitment? A set of examinations for modules can provide an effective spur to greater effotr in the short term. A controlled piece of coursework is entirely possible. I am in no doubt that my nephew currently in 6th form is working harder, more consistently than I did 20 years ago.

    I agree with your general point that it is easy to be long on criticism and short on answers. I think that the reason for that is that the purpose of education is ever less clear. It is easy to mouth platitudes on this one but increasingly I worry that assessments and league tables have become ends in themself. And of course it would be a very brave school that decides that its place in the league tables is not significant. Indeed it is interesting to note that the DfE seems to have placed great emphasis on those league tables you mention when the tests that underpin them are NOT the high-stakes, high pressure tests that we have increasingly demanded of pupils.

    The most that I can say is that I often hear this glib remark about education as ‘all must have prizes.’ A closer approximation would be to say that, ‘the days when those without prizes had options are gone.’ I would like for government to stop looking at education as nothing other than assessment, to step back and look at the world pupils actually face rather than the one we would like them to face. That, of course, would be far from easy.

    I for one do not envy Laws.

  • As far as I remember David Laws was our Shadow Minister for Education before the 2010 election and therefore there is plenty of evidence about his views on education, one of which – his advocacy of the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance – is sufficient to discredit him in my book.

  • @ Tabman

    “OK. Please explain what is wrong with academias [sic] and free schools, and why they will be vote losers to mothers and students [sic]. You may also add why they will be vote losers to fathers and pupils too”

    What is wrong is that it is already been revealed that free schools and Academies are popping up in area’s where there is no shortage of school places to warrant them
    Where are the free schools in communities where they are shortage of school places, where most of the students are at a academic disadvantage?
    Not only that they increasing social divisiveness and inequity in a system that is already unfair, and by not having to follow the national curriculum it further creates a 2 tier education, soon to be escalated with goves plans to reintroduce the O Level CSE style of education.

    Education is a huge priority amongst Liberal Democrat Voters, hence the reason why people left in their droves when the party abandoned it’s pledge on tuition fee’s. Are you seriously forgetting Liberal democrats stance on free schools and academies prior to the election and indeed later at conference?

    No matter how deep tinted rose coloured glasses, some may wish to wear, there will be a substantial amount of voters who will not vote Libdem again because of this, and many more will be enraged by the fact that David Laws has returned to government after his expenses and being suspended by parliament.

    Laws has not been held accountable by his constituency in yeovil as yet and I would be very surprised if he retained his seat at the next election. I don’t think the people in Yeovile thought for one second that they were voting for a Tory and on top of his expenses shame, I think it would be a miracle

  • And there was me thinking you were trying to run the country not figuring out your positioning for the next election

  • chriseaglen 4th Sep '12 - 9:43pm

    Patrick McLoughlin – to Transport to push through infrastructure projects like HS2.
    It is hoped the new SOS considers the routes for HS2 alongside the M1 and WCML where the people live to use the Javelin type services needed to complement the longer inter-city services.

    Central rural Buckinghamshire was an easy target for flat land to make the noise and dump the spoil from cuttings that is of no use for embankments.

    Time to bring some operational and utilization parameters to the project to provide an affordable capacities in crease. Leave 200 to 250mph for Silverstone. People want seats and want more road traffic on to rail. The highest speed objective was a useful preliminary consideration that does not fit into the UK market or geographic realities.

  • Matt, why does not following the BC create a two tier system? You’re not suggesting the NC is not FFP are you? Because the only other conclusion is that its the free school pupils who are disadvantaged.

  • Peter Watson 4th Sep '12 - 11:02pm

    @Graham
    Most criticisms of the appointment of Laws to education are based upon his record as an MP: fiddling his expenses and being suspended from parliament. He’s also seen as being to the right of the party: even George Osborne mistook him for a tory.
    But what of his views on education? Well, before the election, on conservative education policy he did say, ““The Tories’ schools plans are deeply flawed both in terms of money and on the curriculum. … On the curriculum, Conservative plans are in even more of an incoherent muddle. … It is impossible to justify in any logical way a system which imposes such centralized uniformity on 23,500 schools while allowing a small minority to teach whatever they like at the taxpayers’ expense.” Is that a good sign or just a precursor to another Lib Dem reversal?

  • Laws’ views are pretty well known in Yeovil

  • PW the logical conclusion being remove the uniformity

  • “There has been a breathtaking rise in performance in education since 1997. Inner London was a basket case pre-97; ninety per cent of students were failing to get decent grades at 16 back then. The improvement’s been astonishing, dramatic, unbelievable. Money, reform, leadership, pioneering methods, one-to-one tuition have all helped. That really counts, you cannot say they’ve done nothing. Sixty per cent of pupils on free school meals in some of the poorest areas now gain five GCSEs A-C, a massive rise from 13 years ago.”
    David Laws, February 2010

  • Since everyone is talking about exam reform.
    Surely the point is this. You now have a generation of parents and up and coming parents who did not grow up with O’levels.. They are not going to thank either Micheal Gove or David Laws for downgrading their children’s exam results. The tripling of tuition fees is already a big enough pressure on families, without trying to rejig the exam system because a few aging Estonians want the olden days back.
    And on an anecdotal level when I was doing my O’levels,, which I passed,, I was bone idle, never read a book when crib notes were available, never handed an essay in on time, spent more time picking my nose and listening to hardcore punk than putting pen to paper and still managed to get to university. And I don’t think I was that unusual.

  • Peter Watson 5th Sep '12 - 11:03pm

    @jedibeeftrix
    I agree with you about IDS. After being a flop as a tory leader, he took time to immerse himself in the whole area of benefits and social security, and seems to approach it with integrity and sincerity, the antithesis of the superficial PR approach of Cameron and Osborne. I may or may not agree with his conclusions, and I certainly disagree with his (and your!) views on many issues, but I do have respect for the man.

  • re: is David Laws arrogant?
    Given the disproportionate vitriol of the attacks on him, I’d say he’s been determinedly stoic.

    re: Gove & education
    whatever happened to lifelong learning? Listening to theis discussion, there are still far too people who don’t learn from their mistakes.

  • “Given the disproportionate vitriol of the attacks on him, I’d say he’s been determinedly stoic.”

    That Hitler must have been a remarkably decent and honourable chap given the number of people that attack his record with vitriolic zeal.

  • Peter Watson 7th Sep '12 - 10:08pm

    @Oranjepan re: Gove & education – whatever happened to lifelong learning? Listening to theis discussion, there are still far too people who don’t learn from their mistakes.”
    I accept that Gove might still be learning, but I don’t think he shows any signs of learning from his mistakes.

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