Saturday, January 16, 2010

Labour Balls Up

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Cushions and Soft Furnishings, is a notorious arm-twister, class warrior, and in the running to be solely responsible for Labour's forthcoming defeat the General Election.

His latest wheeze is a £300m Broadband Bribe, with the intention of giving any Labour leaning voter even less incentive to aspire to a better life. As often happens with Labour after a few years in power, they've retreated into very safe territory; promote the 'dependency culture', label all opponents as 'toffs', and take it from there. With the country suffering from the longest, deepest recession in history, you'd have imagined somebody at the Treasury would have at least coughed a bit during the Cabinet meeting to discuss handing out free broadband to people in marginal constituencies, but I understand the idea of saying "No" to Ed Balls brings up combinations of genitalia and vice-grips.

Balls' bullying tactics will doubtlessly see this scheme rolled out just in time to shore up support in time for the election. Never before has "shameless" been more appropriate a word. If this scheme is all about helping the lowest earners, helping children do the best in school, why has it taken 12 years for the only solution to be the giving away of easier access to Facebook and Bejewelled?

If the worsening state of education is not enough - and there's plentiful examples of the GCSE system becoming mere window dressing for Labour's doubtful education 'claims' - Ed Balls is of course riding a leadership bid horse all the way to the summer. In another desperate move, MPs from smaller Northern constituencies are being arm-twisted against the idea of moving from First Past the Post to Alternative Vote in time for the General Election. This is Balls' aim to keep as many on-side MPs returned to the Opposition Benches, without the hassle of a fairer voting system or cut in MP numbers getting in the way.

It doesn't take a flick through a GCSE Politics textbook to see where this idea comes from.

There really is only one shot at getting education right. My personal view on the state controlling schools has been coloured ever since the National Curriculum appeared to clip the wings of every decent teacher in my school - "What, the Romans
again?". Now education policy has become overtly politicised, school building programmes wrapped up in debt-laden schemes, children forced to take too many exams and generally under achieving. Children unable to even write their own name after 5 years of a Labour government (and this hasn't got much better) is one of many 'milestones' currently along the route leading to Ed Balls' door.

"Class war" is a tired and extreme tactic often used by desperate members of the left-wing looking for some mud to throw in times of trail. Given the state of school education in this country, I suppose it is not surprising that Labour have not learned the lessons of such electioneering...