The Wilted Rose

Charting Labour meltdown 2007-2010

The case for new grammar schools – and not just in Bucks

12.01pm Update: I am furious about Labour’s approach to grammar schools, after seeing the rubbish from Ed ‘So What?’ Balls on the front of the Telegraph this morning.  Here is an excellent blog from The Last Boy Scout:

I think Mr Balls needs a reality check. Instead of trying to improve the standard of the Secondary modern schools, he goes for the easier option of attacking the grammars. He even had the nerve to suuggest that “the system [of academic selection] left secondary modern pupils feeling as if they were failures” when they were unsuccessful in their applications.

The whole speech yesterday was a bit rich coming from the Schools Secretary after just last week he asked for “the help of grammar schools in raising standards at the 638 schools where fewer than 30 per cent of pupils achieve five good GCSEs“. So in just a week he has gone from saying that grammar can help solve the problem, to blaming them as being part of the problem.

Today in the Telegraph you will read that 1 in 20 white boys go to university, compared to 66% of Indian girls.  Even more heartbreaking, fewer than 1 in 20 black Caribbean boys make it to university.  People came from Jamaica, Trinidad and elsewhere for opportunity – but they don’t get equality of opportunity in the UK today. 

Social breakdown is happening partly because the ladders of opportunity – whether Employment or Education – have been kicked away from many of our youngsters, whether they’re white boys or the bright young black Caribbean kids who often have their talents denied because they were sent to a sink school.  Social justice isn’t being served by the current education policy of any major party.

It was different for me, of course, a working-class kid from a ‘workless’ household who managed to get into the local grammar school and make it to university in the 1990s. In Ulster young people have the highest rates of university attendance in the UK.  What’s more, almost 100% of students at Queen’s University Belfast are from state schools.  Yes, 100% from state schools, mostly grammar schools (which are under attack – Labour perhaps piloting its plan to destroy English grammars).  And a very large propotion of these students are from working-class families.

New Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve helped clarify the Tory position after the Willetts’ despicable comments.  I would hope that Mr Gove starts to make the case for new grammar schools – and not just in Buckinghamshire.

19 June, 2008 Posted by | politics | , , | Leave a comment

Tax cuts are essential for combating social breakdown

Fraser Nelson, writing in the most recent issue of The Spectator, observed that the Tories are seeking to focus on social policy, rather than the economy. The thinking behind this is that Labour’s opinion poll ratings are already sliding as its record for economic competence has been lost.

However, it would utterly foolish of an incoming Government not to tackle the economic problems that underlie much of the country’s social breakdown.

Tax cuts for lower-income workers, and abandoning the absurd commitment to sticking to Labour’s spending plans, are advocated by Tim Montgomerie in an excellent article in today’s Telegraph. Tim demonstrates again why he should be an MP, if not in 2010 then at least in 2014/15, and a future Cabinet Minister. His proposals should become Conservative policy.

Many public sector low-income workers (e.g. £13k a year), as trade unionist Mark Serowtka rightly pointed out last night on Newsnight, are suffering from rising prices and the impact of Bank of England interest rate policy on their mortgages, and are understandably demanding wage increases – possibly indicating a number of strikes. 

The danger is that high-tax statists could dictate the policy and preclude tax cuts in favour of increased public spending (and, therefore, by implication lower economic growth, real income and living standards), leading to a failure to get out of the economic morass that Brownian policy has created). There’s no point Osborne (or whoever the next Conservative Shadow Chancellor is) becoming another Alistair Darling.

For some of the more stupid Tories, ruling out tax cuts is similar to Blair’s Clause 4 moment on public ownership. However, the key difference is that Labour was wrong supporting public ownership and renationalisation; tax cuts are morally right.

Tax cuts would not only ease the burden on low-income workers, but it would incentivise British people (whatever their ethnic group) who are currently living on benefits to start working.

Creating a new culture of work in areas of ‘worklessness’ or high unemployment can only help to reverse social breakdown. Economic policy, and taxation policy in particular, are inextricably linked with social policy.

Tax cuts could be the incentivising ‘carrot’, that would be more effective than a ‘stick’ approach to forcing people into work.

19 June, 2008 Posted by | betrayal, economy, Gordon Brown, Labour Party, politics, social breakdown, taxation | , , | 1 Comment