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Nicky Morgan’s challenge: stop Gove becoming a useful bogeyman

12 August 2014

Tristram Hunt announces today that he wants to put a stop to the policy of overhauling A-levels. That means that Labour isn’t going to do something that the Coalition says it is going to do. If the party wins next year’s General Election, it will not abolish AS-levels and will delay the overall reforms to consult further and allow schools to get used to the new GCSEs.

Hunt’s announcement is interesting for two reasons. The first is that it is yet another example of how the old education big tent has lost a lot of its pegs and poles, and Labour thinks it can pitch a rival tent elsewhere, whether that be Michael Gove’s fault, or someone else’s.

The second is that naturally Hunt is badging this as a break with Michael Gove’s school reforms, even though Gove is no longer in place. His bogeyman reputation remains useful. And this is the challenge for the Conservatives. Nicky Morgan was brought in as a mollifying minister who could calm some of the more outlandish tensions between the Tories and the education world, and possibly try to gain her party some electoral credit for the reforms that Gove fought hard to achieve. She needs to weaken the appeal for Labour of saying that ‘we will repeal Gove’s evil this that and the other’. This means that she cannot distance herself from anything her predecessor did, as to do so would suggest that Gove was in some way wrong. But she also needs to make the Tory education brand much more benign. Labour will be trying to keep Gove’s memory alive for as long as possible: Morgan’s challenge is to work out how to neutralise it without neutering the reforms that the former Education Secretary – and his Blairite predecessors – managed to achieve after hard graft and hard fighting.

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  • Tom M

    “….Nicky Morgan was brought in as a mollifying minister who could calm some
    of the more outlandish tensions between the Tories and the education
    The concern for me in that statement is that Cameron seen Gove as too efficient in promoting right wing policies so had him removed. What price then of any other right wing policies being promoted in any other area of government?

  • Ah hah

    “This means that she cannot distance herself from anything her
    predecessor did, as to do so would suggest that Gove was in some way
    wrong” – which, of course, he never, ever was. Not about anything, not ever, not in any way whatsoever, no way, no how.

  • fundamentallyflawed

    Unfortunately Education is in need of a massive overhaul.. Meddling of Subsequent governments to show increasing standards by fiddling the results so every child passes and a desire to equate a degree with some mythical social mobility has effectively created a dumbed down education system where mediocrity is the desired result.

    A failure of every government official until Gove to dare to tackle the unions has meant that our education system has effectively refused to modernise (and continues to refuse along with other public services).

    • Conway

      Britain is unique among developed countries inasmuch as over 50s are better educated than current school leavers. They will be the people who were educated before the destruction of selective education, the easing of standards and the indoctrination of lefty ideas such as “all shall have prizes”, which came to a head in 1997 under the mantra “education, education, education”. We have short changed a generation of pupils and it is time to put things right.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Too late. Once the Left create a bogeyman their hive mind keeps it alive. Margaret Thatcher being perhaps the most well known example. Of course the media, with too few honourable exceptions, are complicit in aiding and abetting them by repeating their bogeyman mantras rather than challenging them.

    Hunt reminds me of Crosland. A privileged and severely constipated ideologue determined to pull the ladder of social mobility up behind him. He is more interested in accommodating the lefty teachers who vote Labour and clamour within the NUT rather than the pupils or their parents.

    • ButcombeMan

      First paragraph Colonel-precisely.

      And the way to deal with that, is to take the left on, by defending “controversial” Ministers doing the right thing and the broad thrust of their much needed policies. to take the battle to the enemy, explain the need and to make the electorate choose

      Cameron did not do that and is just weak, weak, weak.

      it is just laziness? I suspect it is.

      • Colonel Mustard

        He is very badly advised and his strategy is poor. Rather than confront them head on over ideology he has a weather eye to the election and polling. He seems to have some fallacious belief in trying to win over the centre and centre-left by which he manages to alienate his own natural supporters. The left love to denigrate those supporters as not representing the “will of the people” (anyone right of centre is now pretty much deemed the “far right” or “extreme right”) at the same time as despising Cameron and his Big Business Tories anyway.

        He is also about 10 years behind the times. The left are finally beginning to be rumbled and there is a growing backlash against them and their conformist language but rather than leading the charge he dithers about between the lines, attacking with words one day, appeasing with policy the next. And he still has a vast number of troops in a state of mutiny and a partisan guerilla movement that he would rather fight than enlist.

        Red Ed is hard left trying to masquerade badly as a one nation moderate. Cameron is a trendy urban twit who instead of accepting Ed’s polarising challenge is still trying to prance about like Blair on a rapidly disappearing middle ground. Consequently we have three essentially left wing leaders – Ed on the far left, Clegg in middle left and Cameron on the centre left more or less. All of them wedded to Big (Socialist) Government and the EU.

        Lazy and stupid I venture and confusing his personal metro values with policy. As a leader he should be uniting the right but he has managed to fracture it fatally.

        • ButcombeMan

          I feel better because you got that off your chest.

          I agree. Cameron is hopeless. His positioning and tactics seems to have got even worse since Crosby started work.
          I despair of him showing some back bone and true leadership. Domestically and on the world stage.

          There is so much to be done. A complete re-think of the role of NATO . A rethink of the role of the State, what it should do, what it can do, what it must not do.

          A rethink about all taxation into a simpler, integrated, fair system. Further reforming social security.. Ensuring that Britons save for a long old age.

          Getting real control of immigration, one way or another. Spelling out what changes we need and /will have/ in the EU or we will leave. Repatriating the Human Rights Act. ensuring that UK Courts take precedence.

          He has no vision, I do not know what he stands for.

          • roger

            Excellent. Agree entirely.

          • Smithersjones2013

            His positioning and tactics seems to have got even worse since Crosby started work.

            I’m surprised Crosby took the job because Cameron and Osborne had managed to create the worst of all worlds with their ridiculous lurch to the centre. Crosby has an impossible task because anytime the Tories try and appeal to the right the left claim their centreist credentials are false and the right denounce them as liars who cannot be trusted and the rip the proposals apart and. every time they try to appeal to the left

            the left denounce them as pretenders and call them liars whilst the right denounce them as left wing traitors.

            Cameron and Osborne really are the most appalling political strategists. It truly amazes they have made some of the basic and totally unnecessary strategic errors they have made. They really were / are clueless and its getting worse because they are getting desperate and nothing is working.

          • Mynydd

            Crosby is another example of Mr Cameron poor judgement. Why re-employ an advisor who has already failed in the job, After all he was at Mr Howard’s side when he lost the general election

          • The Masked Marvel

            He stands for the status quo of the centre-left establishment, and for all those who are congenital Tories. It’s not much, I admit.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I hate politicians with vision. I like politicians who go around fixing things.

    • John Dalton

      I had a lot of faith in Gove. I have very little faith in Nicky Morgan.

      How typical that the answer our weak, left-leaning elite come up with to the Trojan Horse scandal is to further marginalise Christmas and Easter in our schools. The perverse self-hatred is so strong you could choke on it.

      We allow in to our country in vast unprecedented numbers adherents to an ideology that despises us and wants to subjugate us. And the answer our useless un-Conservative government comes up with is to further weaken the institutions that have made us what we are over centuries. They are traitors.

    • dalai guevara

      A very very, very good analysis … the Greens singling out Owen (Big GM) Paterson as a bogeyman. Now, I have no idea whether that is actually true, but if so, then genetics must be at play here – because singling out Owen Paterson as big industry stooge and slow armchair centralist bureaucrat etc etc will come quite *natural* to many.

    • AdH2011

      Indeed – the biggest bogeyman being the Tory party itself. In many Northern areas in particular, Tory voters have successfully been painted as a collection of selfish, greedy, rich, and racist bastards and not perhaps those who don’t always want a permanent Labour Party dictatorship.

      Of course Labour voters aren’t at all looking out for themselves.

  • 20thcenturymax

    Time will tell us wether she is actually there just to finish hammering in the nail!

    • Conway

      I thought she was there because she was cloven not crested.

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