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He’s behind you! Michael Gove is the pantomime villain who inspires Labour

4 October 2012

1:57 PM

4 October 2012

1:57 PM

There was plenty of panto on the conference floor this week in Manchester. Ed Miliband encouraged delegates to boo several villains in his speech, and one of them was Michael Gove. In fact, Michael Gove popped up as the villain on Tuesday and in the Labour leader’s question-and-answer session yesterday, too, and again when Stephen Twigg spoke just before the close of the conference today. This is odd: of all the reforms that the coalition government has introduced so far, Gove’s have been the least surprising to Labour members given he’s pushing ahead with what Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis started.

There was one baffling moment when a delegate started heckling a year 11 academy pupil who was delivering quite a lovely speech about her own schooling. The woman shouted about comprehensive schools doing the same things as academies. The pupil carried on speaking remarkably calmly, but even if the heckler doesn’t represent the rest of Labour members, she did highlight the continuing antipathy of sections of the party towards academies, one of Labour’s most radical reforms.

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But as much as Twigg and Miliband like to boo and hiss about the Education Secretary, they continue to be inspired by his ideas. In fact, Twigg’s New Deal for Teachers could have been introduced by Gove himself (possibly with Twigg criticising it in a press release, too), given many of its new ideas are actually ones Gove is already promoting.

Twigg’s pledge that a Labour government would double the size of the Teach First programme follows Gove’s announcement in June that he would triple it. And incentivising trainee teachers to work in schools with large numbers of children on free school meals is another government policy: in June Gove announced extra bursaries for those teachers. As I mentioned yesterday, sacking incompetent teachers is a policy that Twigg and Gove see eye-to-eye on, as the Education Secretary already has his own plans to help schools sack weak teachers in a term.

In true panto style, Gove is behind Twigg and Miliband, no matter how much they protest that he isn’t.

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Show comments
  • dalai guevara

    Such an easy target – this chap is a cracker. Give the Queen a yacht? God almighty!

  • Charlie the Chump

    Surely Gove is ahead of Noddy and Big Ears??

  • Charlie the Chump

    Surely Gove is ahead of Noddy and Big Ears??

  • http://twitter.com/TooOldforPE Jonathan Burton

    I am truly disheartened by the similarities of Twigg and Gove’s approach. There has to an alternative and as for Adonis I hardly know where to start rxpressing my contempt

    • Fergus Pickering

      But what do you want, Mr Burton. More of the same. Not on, I’m afraid. Nobody wants more of the same except teaching unions and Labour party delegates. Our state schools are NOT VERY GOOD. I take it you do not accept that.

  • Nicholas

    Very revealing the number of nasty lefty nutters on Daily Politics who wanted to see free schools closed by the “next Labour government” and added some unnecessary spite about Gove, especially the usual helmet-haired wimmin. Thoroughly unpleasant people. The true nasty party.

  • Derekemery

    All the parties have magnificent ideas on how to spend extra money we do not have which is based on further increasing borrowing. UK public sector debt is increasing at 9% pa and expected to reach 100% of GDP by 2105. Nobody seems to even be interested in this problem but the UK will not be allowed to rack debt ever upwards. This is rather more important than most of the other problems politician are interested in and will not be solved by spending more money we will have to borrow. At some time the lenders will react and gorging on debt will no longer be an option. Meanwhile politicians continue to live in a fairy tale land where money is on tap.

  • Forlornehope

    Give Twigg the benefit of the doubt; if he really wants to push on with the Blair-Adonis reforms the way to do it is to get very exercised about small differences in policy keeping the activists happy while not derailing the real policy. It rather looks as if that is what he is doing.

  • JCA

    Not defending Miliband or Twigg here, but i think the main complaint against Gove is not the policy itself, but the speed / inflexibility / centralising instinct with which it’s being pushed through.
    Good ideas, naively implemented.

    • DavidDP

      To be fair, there are things that Gove could do to take teachers with him, particularly about the new exams. Not all teachers are implaccably hostile a la the NUT, but some are concerned about the impact of a whole new exam system combined with spending cuts.

      • timozweb

        What cuts?

      • timozweb

        What cuts?

  • DavidDP

    “Twigg’s pledge that a Labour government would double the size of the Teach First programme follows Gove’s announcement in June that he would triple it”
    Odd type of policy auction. Presumably Gove will come out next and halve it, followed by Twigg again calling to reduce it by two-thirds……

    • telemachus

      Whatever the figures Twigg cares passionately about the aims the means and the ends of education
      The hateful Gove could not give a monkeys provided he can save the central budget and give himself fodder to try to wow the hard right at the Tory Conference

  • DavidDP

    “There was one baffling moment when a delegate started heckling a year 11 academy pupil ”
    Not so much baffling as disgraceful. What kind of people treat a child like that?

    • Charlie the Chump

      revolutionary socialists otherwise known as teachers

    • Charlie the Chump

      revolutionary socialists otherwise known as teachers

  • mypseudonym

    I’d say it was more of a venn diagram rather than an overlap.

    • mypseudonym

      *complete overlap

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