October 2010 Archives
There's been a lot of talk about the pupil premium - Nick Clegg's figleaf for his party which will, apparently, see extra money spent on schools attended by deprived children.
We've already learnt that, contrary to Nick Clegg's earlier promise, it won't all be 'new money'. Education secretary came clean on that last week.
But here's something else I've discovered this week. Apparently, the money allocated will be determined, at least in part, by whether a child gets free school meals.
That shouldn't come as much of a surprise as it is an indicator which Labour was very fond of too. On one hand, there's a danger a school is unfairly stigmatised if the number of free school meals is well documented, but on the other hand it was a very good way of getting extra cash.
Politicians hate the phrase 'They're all the same.' There's a good reason for that - it's not true. But there's also a good reason why so many people think it's true - because so often it appears that way.
Take one of New Labour's favourite tricks - re-announcing spending commitments as 'new' news two or three times. Barely a month would pass without a big spending announcement which, when journalists probed a bit, was little more than a topping up of a previous announcement.
In hindsight, perhaps we should be grateful to Labour for such recycling announcements - just imagine the size of the deficit if each new announcement had been new money.
We all know where David Cameron stands on the idea of changing the way we vote in the UK - as he said at party conference: 'Just because we don't like it doesn't mean we should seek to wreck it.'
We also know that both Cameron and Clegg are keen to portray the coalition as a proper partnership, rather than a minor party propping up the real ruling party.
If that is the case, surely Clegg could have adopted a similar attitude towards the university reforms which Lord Browne proposed this week to that which Cameron is applying towards the alternative vote.
George Osborne's praise for David Cameron at the start of his speech yesterday was enough to churn even the hardiest of stomachs. Maybe the man once billed the Conservative's election superbrain (that worked out well didn't it) was so gushing on purpose. Maybe he hoped it would make millions feel less sick when confirmation of the change to child benefits was delivered moments later.
But that would probably be giving Osborne, and the Tory Party spin doctors, too much credit, pardon the pun. Rather like the Lib Dem conference a fortnight ago, the belief appears to be that if you say something forcefully enough, then everyone will buy into it. Show you believe something so much, and then the country will forget it didn't actually vote for the government which now rules, and certainly didn't vote for the hotch-potch of policies which now appear set to be delivered.