The member for Beverly Hills condemns “educational equivalent” of 50% tax
by Tony Grew
Graham Stuart made the most of the last few minutes of debate on the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill yesterday.
The Tory Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness launched a stinging attack on his fellow member of the 2005 intake, namely Ed Balls, close confidant of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Children, Families and Schools.
Mr Stuart, who had been active in the debate and at one point was inadvertently referred to as the member for Beverly Hills, rose at 9:56pm with some words of scorn for the goverment.
“As we approach the end of the time available to this fading Administration, it seems that the Bill will be the final law on education that they have a chance to introduce before the next general election,” he said.
“It is their SATs test.
“Does the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families lie awake at night fretting about next year’s constituency league table and what it might mean for his future?
“Has Labour’s educational curriculum been distorted and narrowed by the test ahead? I fear that this Bill—this flimsy, incoherent Bill—provides evidence that it has.
“The Secretary of State has introduced it not to improve education but to fulfil the aspiration that he notoriously described to the New Statesman back in March 2006, when he said that he aspired to create political dividing lines, to show up the Conservatives and to score political points.
“This Bill was the educational equivalent of the 50p tax rate—another example of the vicious, paranoid, clan-based politics that he and his master have used to claw their way to the top.
“It seems that no smear, no clandestine briefing and no moral outrage is too much for that coterie of the now electorally damned. But the game is up.
“People are not fooled anymore; they have had enough of Labour.
“So I appeal to the Secretary of State to accept his fate, recognise that defeat is inevitable and use the time he has left to try to do something constructive.
“He should work with Opposition Members not to create dividing lines but to do constructive things, such as introducing the apprenticeships that we would all like as a result of the Bill, because time and again Ministers have failed to show how they will make those apprenticeships a reality.
“They have made the promise, but they have not put forward the mechanisms with which to deliver it.
“I appeal to the Secretary of State to give schools more freedom and to get apprenticeships going, because politics is not about winning or about power; it is about trying to make a positive difference and trying to make people’s lives better. [ Interruption. ]
“The Secretary of State may laugh at such naive idealism, but I suggest to someone so young that, although he may never serve again after next year, despite being so young, he has one year left to try to work positively for the future of education and for our young people, and not to carry on with what is a politically driven, rather than an educationally driven, agenda.”
Unfortunately, as time was up, there was no opportunity for Mr Balls to respond.
The House moved on to the Building Societies (Insolvency and Special Administration) Order 2009.