Coffee House

Tristram Hunt is planning his own Trojan horse

9 June 2014

9:51 AM

9 June 2014

9:51 AM

Tristram Hunt hasn’t lost much time using the Birmingham Islamist schools scandal to call for an end to the autonomy of free schools and Academies. It’s a bizarre non-sequitur. The ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal happened in schools run by the appalling Birmingham City Council (whose defects I’ve already written about). Yet Labour is using this scandal as its own Trojan horse – to take power out of the hands of parents, and give it back to the local bureaucrats whom the party (sadly) now represents:

‘Cameron’s schools policy has delivered a vacuum in the local oversight of our schools, leaving children exposed to falling standards and vulnerable to risks posed by extremists…. Labour has pledged to introduce new local Directors of School Standards to root-out problems before they set in’

The real job of these new bureaucrats would be to end school freedom. If Hunt sounds a little desperate, it’s with good reason – the apology drawn from Michael Gove and the sacking of Theresa May’s special adviser has not really exposed a scandal. Instead, we see two hardy and effective fighters having turned fire on each other. It’s an embarrassment, certainly. But Ed Miliband will not be able to benefit much from this – for a number of good reasons.


Lazy ministers don’t get into the kind of trouble that Michael Gove and Theresa May have found themselves in this weekend. If they became perhaps too battle hardened and over the last few years, it’s because both have been fighting wars on behalf of the voters. They’ve been off fighting teaching unions who put adults before children, or ambulance-chasing lawyers wielding the Human Rights Act. Hunt, an orphaned Blairite, knows that May and Gove are fighting the good fight. But he has to pretend otherwise because Ed Miliband wants to side with these vested interests and govern from Labour’s comfort zone.

The moral of the Gove vs May battle is simple: discipline is required from the Tories – ministers and advisers – in the 12 months before an election. Penalties will be paid by ministers who forget this, no matter how senior.

But the conclusion from the Gove and May achievements is simple: conservatism works, where properly applied. Even the Guardian’s Martin Kettle recently hailed Theresa May as “the most radical and effective police reformer to have occupied the home secretary’s chair in at least half a century”. Gove is the most effective school reformer to sit on the Education Secretary’s chair.

Woody Allen once said that, if sex is not dirty, you’re not doing it right. The same is true of reform.

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Show comments
  • tjamesjones

    Interesting point, Fraser, I find THunt the most cynically annoying of the current labour bunch, but perhaps that’s because he doesn’t even believe the stuff he’s saying. Although he comes across as a wnkr he’s clearly got a brain in his head, but lacks the integrity to use it.

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    “The ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal happened in schools run by the appalling Birmingham City Council”

    Err … not: four of the five schools placed in special measures by Ofsted are academies. And the whole point of academies is …

  • Era

    Hang Labour and the Terrorists for crimes against the British

  • Max Tanner

    I blame the Birmingham City Council which has been mainly under Labour Party control since 1984.

    For many years, they’ve allowed the radicalisation of some schools in
    Birmingham, in order to gain more votes and stay in power. The Labour
    Party supports Islamic extremists/extremism.

    What is the extent of electoral fraud at English elections? (By Democratic Audit, 26/11/2013).

    Youtube Search: “Shahid Malik First British Muslim MP”.

    Youtube Search: “Labour ignores UK Muslim polygamy and forced multiple marriages”.

    Youtube Search: “Sharia courts conquer UK”.

  • Terry Field

    Hunt is typical of the worst sort of political liar – a man who says what he knows to be a lie to gain political advantage by hoodwinking the hordes of ‘vote-for-sale cretins who are potential labour voters.

  • misomiso

    Ask Tristram Hunt how expensive the houses where they send their kids to school. A lot of us would like to live in Leafy North London, and send our kids to the most exclusive state schools in the country.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Somebody should buy that stupid Hunt a hairbrush and teach him how to use it.

    • dado_trunking

      why stop there and not also give him specs like a headmaster, lad?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Somebody should buy you a gross of leashes and muzzles for all your sockpuppets, lad.

        • dado_trunking

          Let me put you in your place now, lad.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Can you give us a sockpuppet count, so we can make arrangements for the shipment?

  • dado_trunking

    I like the fact how the Fraser Nelson’s of this world are made to say that they really really worry about people which talk and look exactly like him, rather than that headmaster type Gove who clearly is from another era altogether.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …how about your goat sockpuppet, what does he talk and look like?

  • Mr Grumpy

    An accurate diagnosis of Hunt’s position, but do you seriously believe “power to the parents” is the answer to the Birmingham fiasco? As James Kirkup has blogged at the DT, the parents may actually be the most intractable part of the problem.

  • swatnan

    What a turnaround! Tristram wasn’t saying that a couple of months ago. But its true Academies Free Schools and Faith Schools are not the solution to a society in harmony with itself. And both Parties are to blame for messing up on Education, Labour with its airey fairy ideas that you can turn an F Grade into and A grade and the Tories that give parents the power and they can run anything, from schools to trains to Water; oh yes give them the power and enough rope and they’ll hang themselves, and the rest of us into the bargain.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …or maybe just you.

  • Shazza

    All this fuss and apoplexy is just a red herring to avoid a proper, open and honest discussion about the role of islam in British secular society and the pernicious effect it is having in all aspects of our lives.

    Our politicians need to man up.

    • Dutchnick

      I agree that there needs to be a realistic discussion about the role of Islam not only in education but life in total. If I were to start a new religion with some of the mandated contents of Islam I would be in jail. Remember the faith required total acceptance and belief in the Koran and its contents, no ifs or buts or questions – This is of no worry to me other than it handicaps people for life but the dissatisfaction it engenders is seen by is proponents as caused by discrimination rather than being self inflicted. What price education?

      • Shazza

        If they want to practice their primitive ideology then they are very welcome to do it in their own backward, Dark Ages countries.

        I strongly object to their mandating us to joining them here; the Trojan Horse is not just in schools, it is everywhere.

        We already have halal and the other various cultural enrichment being forced on us by stealth – what next? We are rapidly reaching the tipping point – do we continue living in the 21st century or do we go back to the 7th?

      • Madian Jinzarli

        both you idiots need to go and read a book of history. Nothing you typed in your comments was true and actually was complete made up backward information.

        • Dutchnick

          Apart from being abusive, usually a sign of admitting being wrong it would be a good idea to tell all what the facts are. Is the Koran the divine word of Allah, as a Muslim are you committed to believe all therein written? As good Muslim you are mandated to desire to live under Sharia, it that true? We would love to know it is your chance to explain the good news!

  • foxoles

    Tristram Hunt says that, in combatting extremism, we are merely ‘involved in a conversation’.

    What a drip.

  • rtj1211

    The old story: highlight the rare extremists and then use that as cover to badge everyone the same.

    0.001% or less of fathers rape their daughter. So every man must be spied on 24/7 as a result.

    However, the question should be asked as to how the Free School due diligence programme could be improved. I’m sure Mr Gove wouldn’t have a problem with that. After all, he wants to encourage good new schools whilst stopping bad ones. That says he needs strong monitoring in the year up to opening and in the first 18 months thereafter, whereupon successes can be given freer rein whilst less successful ones either go into ‘special measures’ or are shut down.

    It’s not too hard really: if you want a successful school, you need the following:
    i. Evidence that there is demand for the kind of education that the school is proposing to offer, within the reality of other schools existing for parents to choose from.
    ii. Evidence that the team of founders have the skills, experience and networks to manage the project successfully.
    iii. Evidence that the Head appointed is of sufficient calibre to build and manage a team of teachers successfully within the proposed education approach being provided.
    iv. Evidence that the infrastructure proposed/provided is suitable and sufficient.
    v. Evidence that the recruitment campaign is professional and delivering according to targets.
    vi. Evidence that the performance of children attending the school is up to scratch after the school has opened.

    Who is evaluating Mr Gove’s selection and evaluation activities?? And how well are they doing it (i.e. are they suitably free of bungs/incentives to do the job dispassionately or are the answers provided up front in return for future Government sinecures?)

    • Rhoda Klapp8

      You don’t seem to understand. But then neither does Gove if he thinks he has the power to pick winners. Let the schools compete, let the failures fail, monitor standards if you must. If government must do something it should be to provide a safety net for pupils caught up in the failures, be they failed academies or just LEA-run schools.

  • Mynydd

    No matter how Mr Nelson and Mr Cameron/Crosby spin it Mr Gove is responsible for Academies and Free Schools. Therefore any problems that arise in them must be laid at Mr Cameron/Gove’s door. When the Labour government introduced a limited number of Academies in well defined areas, for well defined educational needs, the then Education Minister, Mr Balls, said it was becoming difficult for central government to have effective oversight. Now with the massive expansion of Academies under Mr Cameron/Gove central government, forget effective oversight, there is no oversight.

  • toco10

    Tristram Hunt and Red Ed have the benefit of wealth and millionaire status and a cosy upbringing but falsely pretend to be in the same boat as ordinary hard working people.There can be no real progess, whether it be the UK’s financial wellbeing,education,health or security, unless clear decision making and focus is accepted and followed through consistently.Labour can be accused of many things but certainly not clear decision making and focus.

    • telemachus

      You make the mistake of all on the unthinking right
      The nobility of privilege is the ability to recognise the need to share the fruits of privelege with those less fortunate
      It is all too easy to follow the Osborne/St Paul’s definition and application of privilege – to us and ours
      This Olympic God Tristram has more caring in his little toe than a gross of Goves

      • Colonel Mustard

        The ‘privileged’ left are usually the most bonkers of them all, from Benn to Harmon. Probably a father/mother hatred thing.

        Any cursory reading of Gove’s actual views on education makes a mockery of your vile assertion that he doesn’t care. But of course you trade in lies rather than truth.

        Hunt might care but alas that is no substitution for his stupidity or light weight.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Do you ever stop lying?

      • grammarschoolman

        ‘The nobility of privilege’, as you so inelegantly put it, in Hunt’s and Miliband’s case involves denying the advantages you have had to everybody else.

        The ‘nobility of’ being the adopted son of a fish packer who got to the top solely as a result of his own abilities and hard work is that you want to give everybody else the chance to do the same.

        • telemachus

          I do not believe that
          The nouveau riche, whether financial or educational by and large try to keep the riches for themselves

          • grammarschoolman

            Nonsense. People who come up the hard way know what it’s like for others in the same position and do whatever they can to help them. Gove is a shining example of this.

            The beneficiaries of inherited wealth and privilege, like Hunt and Miliband, do all in their power to keep the little folk down.

      • David B

        What a twit! Hunt is calling for more oversight, the oversight that failed!

        Tele try and ignore the script and actually think about what is happening

  • monty61

    Sorry Fraser but this is utter rot. Gove’s decentralising chickens are coming home to roost – an ideological project aimed at handing power over the curriculum to special interest groups has resulted in – guess what? – special interest groups taking over the curriculum to promote their own agena. And a pretty nasty one at that.

    Gove has done some good things but elements of this have clearly failed and it’s quite right that some control goes back to local authorities while the whole issue is called in for a re-think. (The alternative is for Gove to manage it all himself rom the DfE as wonderfully spoofed in the Daily Mash).

    • Hexhamgeezer

      So you would hand over schools to local councils and NUT/UNISON/UNITE etc to continue their ‘non-ideological’ running of education?

      • Barakzai

        And to selfless, non-ideological, culturally neutral governors, of course . . .

      • monty61

        Better than handing it to our home grown Taliban.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Which home grown Taliban do you mean? The Islamic sort or the Labour party sort? One wonders whom and how Hunt might appoint his “Directors of School Standards”. I think we can all guess their likely political affiliations.

          Taliban indeed. The threat from Labour’s unelected Taliban is considerably more potent for the future well being of our children than the real Taliban.

          • monty61

            Labour councillors and Guardian-reading officials are really worse than Islamist infiltration? Of course it is I forgot this is the nutters’ section of the speccy. No sense of proportion.

            We can respectfully but forecefully disagree with our friends on the left without turning them into imaginary monsters.

            • Kitty MLB

              Show the Colonel some respect, old fellow.
              You clearly are somewhat discombobulated
              today if you cannot see the similarities that
              the Colonel was speaking us.Clearly Labour
              will never blow us to smitherines.
              But they have done so to our economy,
              and the foundations of our once great country.
              Labour also deplore this country and are
              totally intolerant.And must never be the
              government again.

              • Shazza

                Yup. It took only 13 years for Labour to turn a solvent, first world country into a near bankrupt third world state. Can you imagine the disaster if they ever got their traitorous hands on power again.

            • Shazza

              They are not imaginary.

            • Colonel Mustard

              It’s a question of relativity which you should know all about. I cannot foresee whether creeping radical Islamification in a few schools or Labour’s cultural revolution will be worse for the whole country in the long run but I do know that the latter has already effected more change of which we are beginning to see the unfortunate consequences.

              It’s all very well to resort to ad hominem sneering about nutters commenting here but in the meantime Labour’s vast army of fellow travelling unelected officials continue to grow and roll out their agenda for us. Are we really expected to believe that Hunt’s ‘Directors’ would not be more creatures of that ilk? You can call them friends if you like and I expect you do. But they are no friends of mine.

              Your ad hominem comment might have more credibility were it not for that Labour party political video that precisely presents the Coalition cabinet as ‘imaginary monsters’. But as usual with Labour and their ‘friends’ there is more than one standard to be applied and much hypocrisy.

            • MikeF

              “Labour councillors and Guardian-reading officials are really worse than Islamist infiltration”? Given that the former cannot act to prevent the latter because of their terror of being labelled ‘racist’ they end up being pretty much the same thing. The left used to regard liberals as ‘useful idiots’ – now hardline Islamists regard ‘left-liberals’ in the same way.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Labour is one big special interest group and probably the worst in terms of storing up trouble and unforeseen consequences for Britain. Let’s not forget the creepy:-

      “The Labour party is nothing less than the political wing of the British people as whole.”

      How Blair got away with that one is astonishing. And let’s also not forget Miliband’s more recent ‘one nation’ with Labour as a ‘movement not a party’.

      All of which arrogantly ignores the not inconsiderable number of British people who choose not to vote Labour and who oppose their doctrine.

    • realfish

      Gove’s decentralising chickens are coming home to roost? Rot?

      This has been going on for years, concerns were raised as far back as 2008, or even earlier, when these schools were well and truly under the control of the City Council – in fact Park View has only been an academy for around 18months to 2 years.

    • Tom M

      That post presumes that special interest groups only ever occur at school level and never at local government level.