Jonathan Simons Guardian comment

As the schools watchdog Ofsted launches a consultation on its own inspections, the Guardian has been canvassing views from across the education sector.

Jonathan Simons, head of education at Tory think tank Policy Exchange, reckons it is headteachers — and, by extension, their bosses, the governing body — who should determine the criteria on which their own school should be judged:

“Ofsted should be a hygiene inspector, not a food critic. By that I mean it should be headteachers who are the dominant actors: they should be the ones saying this is what we’re doing, these are the outcomes, here’s the data to prove it.

Could this be the Jonathan Simons who founded the Greenwich Free School, which, errr, received a ‘requires improvement’ rating — the second lowest of four — in an inspection report released in April this year?

And could this be the Jonathan Simons who chairs a governing body that a subsequent monitoring inspection visit found was “not taking effective action to tackle the areas relating to teaching that were identified at the [previous] inspection”?

The very same!

West Yorkshire Police have claimed that ‘a jogger’ was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” after a running man collided with the David Cameron and his security detail after a meeting in Leeds today.

With reports breaking online (but no video footage) West Yorkshire Police — who presumably had some responsibility for the security operation around the PM — played the incident down on Twitter:

But this account appears to be contradicted by footage subsequently uploaded to Vine:

Cameron pushed in Leeds (slow motion)

The gap between the amateur footage and the type of incident suggested by the police is stark:

  • The man does not “come close to the PM’s group”, as the police claim – he looks to have made firm contact with David Cameron
  • The man does not run along the pavement, as a jogger might, but diagonally across it
  • The man makes no attempt to prevent a collision with the prime minister, as a jogger would
  • Cameron clearly pauses, sets himself for a possible impact and raises his arm

So … after an incident which threatened to seriously embarrass their force, West Yorkshire Police have issued what on the face of it appear to be misleading statements.

It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

UKIP aren’t the only party with a record of dubious race politics to be standing in the Rochester and Strood by-election. Thugs Britain First — whose mosque invasion tactics and meteoric rise on social media have arguably made them the pre-eminent threat from the bona fide far-right — are standing their deputy leader Jayda Fransen in the constituency.

More worrying still, is the warm reception that their message of religious hatred is getting with some Kippers. The Britain First website boasts of their presence on Rochester High Street:

“The day was marked by the great and friendly reception we received from the UKIP activists.”

Indeed, some feel happy to pose arm-in-arm with Fransen:

UKIP and Britain First in Rochester

If there was any doubt what a nasty piece of work Fransen is, here she is in action a few days ago, haranguing Muslims leaving a local mosque:

But not everyone is worried by the degree of UKIP/Britain First chuminess. Here are the top Facebook comments on the UKIP/Britain First photo above:

Britain First UKIP Facebook comments

Whatever subtle repositioning may be taking place as UKIP professionalise their operations, the fact remains that the party attracts activists and candidates with deeply unsavoury views.

money

Tory councillor Kelly Tolhurst has won the ‘open primary’ in Rochester and Strood. With a six-figure cost and a five-figure turnout, the postal ballot of every voter in the constituency has set the Conservative Party around back £18 per vote — so it’s just as well they don’t plan on declaring it as an election expense!

By not officially having a candidate, clever clogs at Tory HQ reckon they can spend as much as they fancy without exceeding strict limits on campaign spending. But Michael Crick has called them out on the total charade of holding a so-called ‘primary’ involving just two candidates — both local councillors — and doing so right in the middle of the main campaign.

And another thing. It might not be legal. Both UKIP and Crick have spoken to lawyers who claim that the ruse could be open to a legal challenge.

The Electoral Commission have also told Scrapbook that the Tories have not asked them for any specific guidance on primaries in the context of a by-election:

“The guidance that has been referred to is on our website and has of course been sent out to all parties at various points but the Conservative party did not approach us for anything bespoke beyond this.”

The treasurer of the local Conservative Association — who could be responsible for any overspends under Section 79 of PPERA — wasn’t exactly keen to chat when Scrapbook rang her earlier today.

Continue reading

Stephen Phillips

The response of barrister and part-time MP Stephen Phillips to questions about his outside earnings was utterly breathtaking in its arrogance. He was, however, very keen to emphasise that his work was confined to periods in which Parliament is not sitting and that it “doesn’t affect the way in which I perform as an MP”:

“The money I earn outside Parliament is money for which I work very hard. It also demonstrates really quite how successful I am.

“It might well be thought that having someone who commands the sort of fees that I can when the House is not sitting might be a very good thing for my constituents.

“What is interesting of course is the concentration there, really, on money and the feeding of the green-eyed god of envy rather than actually concentrating on whether I’m actually doing my job.”

Suffice it to say that Phillips appears to have had something of a schedule clash this week. He voted on Monday but hasn’t been seen in the chamber since. He was supposed to be at a public accounts committee hearing on overall government finances yesterday afternoon, which he also missed.

Here — Scrapbook can reveal — is where he has been since Tuesday:

ROLLS BUILDING
COURT 28
Before MR JUSTICE COOKE

At 10:30
FOR TRIAL
Part Heard
2011-357 Lakatamia Shipping Co Limited  v Nobu Su & 6 ors

£750,000-per-year Phillips is representing a shipping firm in a commercial lawsuit over £50 million in forward freight agreements. The MP, who can’t be bothered to turn up for his own job, even had the cheek to claim that the defendant “cannot be trusted”.

He was supposed to be representing his constituents in parliament. Instead he was representing a Monaco-based Greek shipping magnate in the High Court.

A Tory MP has used a debate about the NHS to boast about the size of his walk-in wardrobe — saying it is the same size as the staffroom at a local hospital.

Craig Whittaker made the comment after a leaked report revealed that yet more drastic cuts could be on the way for hospitals in the local area.

“I go into our local hospital quite often. I went in literally a year or so ago and was shown the brand new carpet they’ve got in their staff room there. The cost of that carpet … £1,500.

“I’ve just put a carpet in my walk in wardrobe at home — which is not much smaller than that thing there — and it cost me £50.

Local sources in Yorkshire suggest that ostentatious Whittaker’s reference to the size of his changing room may not have been a poorly-judged aside.

Loadsamoney

Long-standing readers may remember Scrapbook’s report of June 2011, in which we revealed that Whittaker drives around in a sports car with his face printed on the side.

Craig Whittaker's car

The man has since upgraded to a white 2012 Jaguar XF (luxury edition) with the registration ‘WH12SKER’:

Craig Whittaker Jaguar

Classy.

Mansion Tax Hampstead

Never mind the 600,000 extra children living in absolute poverty since the Coalition came to power, has anyone considered how the hard-pressed residents of NW3 will cope if a Mansion Tax is imposed by Ed Balls?

Former senior medical adviser to the Foreign Office Dr Harald Lipman lives on Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead — where a pied-à-terre will set you back an average of £1.25m. He told the Ham & High about the severity of the crisis which could afflict the wealthy enclave:

“This is a non-partisan, apolitical campaign, it’s humanitarian.”

Dr Lipman and fellow campaigners are appealing for signatures on a petition and have not ruled out a protest march.

He is being supported by double Oscar-winning actor-turned-MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Glenda Jackson. We know that Ms Jackson may be affected by the measure as her writer and PR consultant son Dan Hodges — with whom she shares a £2m property an hour’s drive away from her constituency — has been whingeing about the measure from the comfort of the Telegraph.

Over to Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson:

It’s Grim Up North London etc.