It was perhaps inevitable that Michael Gove’s comments on the “preposterous” number of Old Etonians surrounding David Cameron – interpreted as a barb not only against Cameron but wannabe leader Boris Johnson — would make an appearance during the budget debate.
While Cameron and Gove resort to embarrassed laughter, Osborne — whose leadership hopes were boosted by the intervention — pretends to be ‘reading his own budget’.
Scrapbook is enjoying the latest salvo in the unofficial Tory leadership contest. With Michael Gove playing down his prospects out in favour of George Osborne, the education secretary was given a “right royal bollocking” for highlighting the “preposterous” number of Etonians in David Cameron’s clique.
Then Sayeeda Warsi goes on telly with this sign. Osborne was allegedly called “oik” by pals in the Bullingdon Club because he attended St Pauls rather than Harrow or Eton — like Boris and Dave.
Then Louise Mensch accuses Boris (who served five years as European community correspondent for the Telegraph) of being — shock horror — a Europhile:
And what has Boris hit back with during this period? Errr … getting his dad to go on the Today programme to argue for a change in Tory leadership rules which would favour his son.
A mischievous hacker has defaced the Department for Education website — with a news article ‘revealing’ that the education secretary plans to teach the nation’s children on his own:
“EDUCATION MINISTER Michael Gove today unveiled new plans to single-handedly teach every child in the UK.
“Gather around kids!” he said, while ushering every single British child into one cavernous class-room.
“According to reports, one small girl in the class began to cry. “Aw, do you miss your Mummy?” asked Gove, gently. “Well, Mummy has fundamentally failed to provide for your education so forget about her.”
The cross-site scripting vulnerability was found by coder Terence Eden (@edent) on a section of the site which had been … [drumroll] … outsourced to private provider, Texuna!
“Texuna don’t have any secure way for people to report flaws to them and, when notified, struggled to find someone who could take responsibility.”
According to TES the department and Texuna took A MONTH to fix the security flaw and take down the article — even after they were informed of the hack.
In fairness, that’s still quicker than their FOI response time.
Michael Gove has belittled one of his own ministers as having “no experience of education”. The comment on Lord Nash was prompted by the peer’s handling of a new Free School — which has been delayed by a year despite his department previously claiming it would go ahead.
Relating exchanges in a meeting with Gove, local Tory MP James Clappison told a gathering of supporters of Harperbury Free School, which was blocked after it failed to finalise a deal to buy land from the Department of Health:
“Michael Gove said Lord Nash was a junior minister with no experience in education.
If Gove thinks so little of the venture capitalist and academy sponsor, Scrapbook wonders why he was made a minister in his department.
Anyone would think it was simply because he was a Tory donor.
Michael Gove has appointed yet another Tory to a senior and supposedly impartial role in the education sector — by promoting his 28 year-old policy adviser to be his department’s £105,000-a-year director of strategy.
Tom Shinner’s qualifications for the top civil service role include experience as a junior management consultant, setting up one of Gove’s beloved free schools and, errrr, working for the implementation unit at Tory HQ.
The role would normally go to an experienced senior civil servant. Shinner’s predecessor as director had a stint as principle private secretary, two deputy director positions and a sabbatical as an education specialist at the World Bank under her belt before being promoted to director of strategy.
Shinner now trousers £36,000 more than Gove’s special advisers. Indeed, there are only six SpAds in the whole of SW1 that are paid more than him: one in Nick Clegg’s office and five working for Cameron.
Asked why he had given up a job with McKinsey to teach (and advise Gove) Shinner told the Economist:
“Err, maybe something to do with idealism,”
Yeah, something like that.
The row over Tory cronies in taxpayer-backed positions look set to intensify after it emerges the boss of the government’s coding education initiative cannot code — or even give a decent explanation of what is involved. Figures behind the scheme include Michael Gove, who is at the centre of the furore over Conservative placemen in Whitehall and the ‘quangocracy’.
Conservative activist Lottie Dexter was ridiculed by IT experts and educationalists for her clueless performance on Newsnight — in which she claimed that teachers could be trained how to educate students in computer programming “in a day”:
And after an embarrassing pause while she struggled to explain what computer programming was, she told Paxman:
“It doesn’t mean anything to you, or indeed to me yet because I don’t know how to code”
What Lottie Dexter lacks in obvious qualifications for the role she certainly makes up for with impeccable Tory connections. She worked as communications manager for the think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith and may be familiar to readers as the somewhat ubiquitous face of the Tory outrider ‘Million Jobs’ campaign – an astroturfing operation which purports to “represent” the young unemployed while advocating for tax cuts and the watering down of equality legislation.
Here is what game designers, startup founders and the director of educational development at the Raspberry Pi Foundation had to say about the shambles:
With an exquisite lack of self awareness, Dexter opined:
“Knowing how to code is crucial for so many people for getting jobs in the new economy”
Unless, that is, you are the director of the government’s coding scheme.
This is even better than the video of him interviewing a robber dressed in a balaclava.
With Michael Gove embroiled in a row after attempting to replace the chair of the schools inspectorate (and former Blair aide) Sally Morgan with a Tory stooge, Number 10 protests:
“The decision not to reappoint her was [Gove's] decision. This government appoints people on merit.”
Nice line … but what a pity one of the Tories’ top strategists admitted the opposite was true in a speech last March. As the Gove row blew up, the TaxPayers’ Alliance were quick to brief on the number of Labour-aligned officials in quangos — but curiously failed to mention their founders own views on political appointments.
Matthew Elliott told Conservative Home’s ‘Victory 2015′ conference (image above) that even the lower ranks of the quangocracy should be stuffed with Tories:
“Recruiting more Labour folk to jobs in quangos does not help the long term strength of the Conservative alliance, because these are the quango bosses of the future. The appointment of William Shawcross to the Charity Commission and Sir Peter Bazalgette to the Arts Council were very good”
And the guru even singles out a particular cabinet minister for zeal in stuffing their department with partisans. Errrr …
“Michael Gove has also made some excellent top appointments at the Department for Education, but lower level appointments are also important.”
Thanks for clearing that up, Matthew!