I have not often been called a ‘renowned political commentator’ (for readers of this blog it tends to be ‘hopeless naive leftie’ and elsewhere it’s ‘notorious Zionist neo-con’) so I was delighted to come across this description of myself in the Harlow Star.
The article was prompted by my appointment as Visiting Professor at Harlow College, one of the best journalism training schools in the country. Over the years, this magnificent Essex institution has produced such stellar alumni as Alan Rusbridger, Roger Alton, Jeremy Clarkson, Piers Morgan and Richard Madeley. I intend to invite them all back over the course of the next academic year to discuss the future of journalism in the light of the Leveson Inquiry.
I also hope to build on the good working relationship with the local MP, Robert Halfon, following on from our work on the Parliamentary Academy for MPs’ apprentices run by my charity New Deal of the Mind.
Over the past year I have had the pleasure of visiting Harlow College several times. It’s an extraordinary success story and has just been ranked the top Further Education College in the country. As the author of the High Principals column in Private Eye, I saw some of the worst practice in the sector, and now I have seen some of the best.
As journalism becomes an increasingly graduate profession, Harlow College has recognised that it needs to provide undergraduate courses, which will be validated by Anglia Ruskin University. This is the opposite of ‘dumbing-down’. This is about embedding the legacy of good old-fashioned journalistic training in the best Harlow tradition.
This is a brilliant opportunity for me and I will keep Spectator readers posted about developments from Essex.