Calder’s First Law of Politics is that if all the parties agree on a new law it is bound to turn out to be a disaster. My Second Law is that the more power the government takes for itself, the more arbitrary the exercise of that power becomes.I have since formulated my Third Law:
The worth of a letter to the Guardian is in inverse proportion to the square of its number of signatories.Which is why I was not overimpressed by Michael Bassey's article for Liberal Democrat Voice today. In it he argues that the Liberal Democrats should oppose Michael Gove's plans for free schools.
His arguments are that it will lead to a "two-tier system" - a cliche I have done my best to satirise over the years - and because of a letter written to the Guardian by 12 professors of education ("myself included").
I have read that letter and I am struggling to see where Professor Bassey's views differ from those of John Prescott:
"If you set up a school and it becomes a good school, the great danger is that everyone wants to go there."As someone says in the comments on Lib Dem Voice, we already have a two-tier education system: it is divided between good and bad schools. And the reason that I feel more sympathetic towards Gove's ideas than many Liberal Democrats is because I believe that we desperately need more good schools.
There is another divide in British education: that between private and state schools. The left has largely given up talking about this, but it still worries me.
If a new tranche of free schools can do something to blur this distinction (as the old direct grant schools did), at least in terms of their ethos, I shall not be sorry.