A bad hair day for David Cameron

This morning papers look fairly bleak for David Cameron after his humiliating U turn on Grammar schools:

The Daily Mail is withering:

The policy shift is particularly embarrassing for Mr Cameron as he has faced down his critics in the bitter grammar row by arguing: “I don’t follow my party, I lead them.”

In a panel, the Mail compares what Cameron said last week:

“A pledge to build more Grammar schools would be an electoral albatross”, David Cameron, May 20

“It is delusional to think that expanding a number of grammar schools would be a good idea.” David Cameron, May 22

….with ‘what the Tories were saying yesterday’:

“Where there is demographic change, then to maintain the status quo we would look at allowing more grammars to be built”, Tory party spokesman May 31

“We will look at it on a case-by-case basis”, Tory education spokesman Nick Gibb May 31

Stephen Glover in the Mail asks: “After the Grammar school furore, what DOES Mr Cameron believe in?”:

…we are entitled to complain – and voters are liable to take fright – if a political party seems a principle-free zone in which announcements reflect a canny preoccupation with being elected rather than a core of values and beliefs.

Peter Oborne reckons that Grammarsgate is indicative of a split in the Tory party:

The past week has been extremely informative about the true state of the Conservative Party.

It is not the happy band united under the leadership of David Cameron, that observers have been led to believe.

The truth is that it is very badly split. This split starts right at the top, and worsens the further down you go.

The Sun, under the headline “Cam’s grammar school cave-in” writes:

TORIES were in turmoil last night after party leader David Cameron caved in over his MPs’ grammar schools revolt.

After saying yesterday morning that it would never mention Grammar Schools again, Conservative Home is back to enumerating the days of Grammarsgate (it’s Day 17 today) and comments scathingly:

The basic issue is that David Cameron is not in tune with the grassroots. He believes in things that are fundamentally different from mainstream Conservatives. He’ll be forgiven by enough Conservatives if he looks like he’ll lead us to power but if his opinion poll ratings start to tank then everything changes. Conservative members want power and will swallow a lot in pursuit of that power but if the sacrifices are for nothing then there will be trouble.

Hat-tip to Conservative Home for the headline collection above.

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Rowntree report says social cohesion is "not just or even primarily about ethnic tensions"

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have issued three reports on the subject of “Migration, integration and local neighbourhoods”. These have been interpreted in a variety of ways by the media. The BBC summarises the reports here:

The survey also found evidence of tension between different ethnic groups – “Strong expressions of prejudice against other migrants and against some British ethnic minorities.”

…Despite such tensions, this report finds that most migrants end up staying longer than they’d planned and almost all of those who leave say they plan to return.

One of the reports partly focuses on housing, which has been the subject of recent controversy. It talks about “the importance of the allocation of housing as a factor underpinning ‘racialised resentment’ “

However, the report notes that often resentments over housing are also expressed in terms of other factors, notably age and generation. The report notes: “This suggests that social and community cohesion is not just or even primarily about ethnic tensions”.

The report interestingly explores these areas through quotations from residents interviewed in Tottenham and Moss Side.

Lights out London

One of the oddities of going to the gym is that I get to listen Capital Radio in the middle of Berkshire. I couldn’t help noticing – mainly because they mentioned it 1,966 times every ten minutes when I was at the gym – that they are running a “Lights out London” event which will involve getting people to turn off their lights and other non-essential domestic appliances between 9pm and 10pm on June 21st.

Hello? It’s still light while I type this – without the light on – and on June 21st it will be even more light at 9pm.

Anyway, full marks to Capital. I do wonder how much energy the event will save (I am told some lights and appliances use more electricity if you turn them off and on again, than if you just leave them on). But it gets people thinking in the right direction.

Hank Marvin strums on

Hank Marvin was on GMTV this morning. I can’t say I am great fan of his music, but I have to admire his longevity in the music business. He is publicising an album of instrumentals which will be TV advertised. When you think that he played guitar (as part of the ‘Drifters’ – later the ‘Shadows’) on the record which was number one when I was born (“Livin’ Doll”) and I am 47, you have to give him full marks for tenacity!

That James May "pain in arse" Autocar yearbook in full

Earlier this week we (my colleagues and I) treated a friend of mine who has cancer to his first trip in a small plane. Fortunately. he really enjoyed it and it was a wonderful occasion.

The flight took place at White Waltham airfield. We based ourselves in the bar looking out onto the planes and runway. It was a gorgeous day and such a vantage point must be about as near to heaven as you can get on earth.

My said friend is a fan of “Top Gear”, so his pleasure was enhanced be being able to watch James May (who owns a plane at the airfield) eat his breakfast, then ready his aircraft and take off.

This led me to look up James May on Wikipedia. Imagine my delight to see actual photographs of the issue of the Autocar yearbook which led to May’s sacking as Autocar’s production manager after he arranged the bolded, outsize letters of each car in the yearbook so that it spelt (with appropriate punctuation):

So you think it’s really good, yeah? You should try making the bloody thing up. It’s a real pain in the arse.

You can see the photograph of the Autocar yearbook here on Wikipedia. It was mentioned in last week’s “Have I got news for you”.

Cameron's humiliating U-turn as another Tory frontbencher rebels on Grammar Schools

Grammarsgate Day 16

Dominic Grieve (shadow attorney general) told his local paper that if more grammars were needed in Buckinghamshire, they should be built.

In an article for the Buckinghamshire Examiner, Mr Grieve – shadow attorney general and MP for Beaconsfield – said he was “pleased” the Conservatives were looking at ways of reforming the comprehensive school system nationally.

But he added: “There is no question of our changing the selective education system in Buckinghamshire against the wishes of the local community.

“We must also ensure that if further grammar or secondary schools are needed they can be supplied within the county.”

But David Willetts claimed that these comments are not in conflict with the policy he and David Cameron have been banging on about. Indeed, David Cameron has said that the idea that new grammar schools would be built was “delusional”.

David Willetts seems to be making it up as he goes along to avoid another frontbench reprimand/black listing/resignation. It seems Willetts and Cameron have decided to use policy limbo dancing to get out of their undoubted mess on Grammar schools:

But the Conservatives say Mr Grieve’s comments do not contradict party policy.

Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts said: “David has said absolutely nothing that is out of line with Conservative Party policy.

“I do understand that in parts of the country where they’ve got grammar schools, as demography changes, so they will come forward with how their grammar school system needs to change.”

Mr Willetts said Mr Grieve’s argument had been made in the full knowledge of his discussions with Buckinghamshire MPs and councillors – and he did not rule out building more grammar schools in such areas if they were needed.

I wonder if David Willetts knows that Dominic Grieve is not called “David”. And if Grammar Schools were not to be built where there are ‘demographic changes’ where the heck would they be built these days anyway?

Here is Grieve’s article in full.

Conservative Home reports that the Evening Standard leads with “TORY RETREAT ON GRAMMARS – Two weeks row…now party backs new schools on case by case basis” regarding this latest twist.

Can I make a suggestion to the Conservative Party? Have policy decisions taken and agreed by a thing called a party conference. Get a policy commission to produce and distribute a paper and a motion months in advance. Allow amendments. Have a good old debate where all points of view are voiced. Then have a thing called ‘a vote’ on it. This will allow the leader to go on holiday to Crete without having to have palpitation-inducing phone calls back to Blighty.

Cameron’s humiliating U-turn as another Tory frontbencher rebels on Grammar Schools

Grammarsgate Day 16

Dominic Grieve (shadow attorney general) told his local paper that if more grammars were needed in Buckinghamshire, they should be built.

In an article for the Buckinghamshire Examiner, Mr Grieve – shadow attorney general and MP for Beaconsfield – said he was “pleased” the Conservatives were looking at ways of reforming the comprehensive school system nationally.

But he added: “There is no question of our changing the selective education system in Buckinghamshire against the wishes of the local community.

“We must also ensure that if further grammar or secondary schools are needed they can be supplied within the county.”

But David Willetts claimed that these comments are not in conflict with the policy he and David Cameron have been banging on about. Indeed, David Cameron has said that the idea that new grammar schools would be built was “delusional”.

David Willetts seems to be making it up as he goes along to avoid another frontbench reprimand/black listing/resignation. It seems Willetts and Cameron have decided to use policy limbo dancing to get out of their undoubted mess on Grammar schools:

But the Conservatives say Mr Grieve’s comments do not contradict party policy.

Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts said: “David has said absolutely nothing that is out of line with Conservative Party policy.

“I do understand that in parts of the country where they’ve got grammar schools, as demography changes, so they will come forward with how their grammar school system needs to change.”

Mr Willetts said Mr Grieve’s argument had been made in the full knowledge of his discussions with Buckinghamshire MPs and councillors – and he did not rule out building more grammar schools in such areas if they were needed.

I wonder if David Willetts knows that Dominic Grieve is not called “David”. And if Grammar Schools were not to be built where there are ‘demographic changes’ where the heck would they be built these days anyway?

Here is Grieve’s article in full.

Conservative Home reports that the Evening Standard leads with “TORY RETREAT ON GRAMMARS – Two weeks row…now party backs new schools on case by case basis” regarding this latest twist.

Can I make a suggestion to the Conservative Party? Have policy decisions taken and agreed by a thing called a party conference. Get a policy commission to produce and distribute a paper and a motion months in advance. Allow amendments. Have a good old debate where all points of view are voiced. Then have a thing called ‘a vote’ on it. This will allow the leader to go on holiday to Crete without having to have palpitation-inducing phone calls back to Blighty.