Reinventing the State with Paul Holmes
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 21st January, 2009
The first of a monthly series of informal discussions on themes within the (currently out-of-print) Liberal Democrat policy book Reinventing the State was held at Portcullis House, Westminster, this evening. For those who don’t know or have forgotten, the tome was a complementary counterblast to the far more controversial Orange Book. It was seen by some critics as a reposte by ‘social liberals’ to the ‘economic liberals’ of the earlier volume, though as I said in a long review I wrote at the time for ‘Liberator’, the situation wasn’t as simple as that. Indeed, some canny individuals — including Chris Huhne, if I remember correctly — wrote essays in both publications.
Anyway, this evening’s session was originally intended to be a tour d’horizon by Steve Webb, MP, but because of a diary change, the gritty Member for Chesterfield, Paul Holmes, stood in instead and focussed his attention on education. It soon became clear that he did take a social, not economic, liberal view of the subject. He made no bones about his relief that certain aspects of the policy paper written by David Laws, MP, (which is going to be debated at the Harrogate Spring Conference) have been modified by the Federal Policy Committee.
Paul was a history teacher is secondary schools for 22 years, and it shows. His delivery has a sufficient mix of punchy controversy and sly barbs to keep schoolchildren and politicos engaged. He is an ardent advocate of comprehensive schools, blowing a giant raspberry at all forms of selective education (among which he included the ‘free schools’ Nick Clegg was promoting a while back, trust schools and Andrew Adonis’s beloved Academies). The very best educational results are achieved in countries such as Finland where comprehensives are the norm, he argued. And he welcomed the fact that under New Labour (for all its many faults), spending on education in Britain has at last reached the Western European average.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, 21st January, 2009 at 10:06 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Tagged: academies, Andrew Adonis, Chesterfield, Chris Huhne, comprehensive schools, David Laws, economic liberals, education, Federal Policy Committee, Finland, free schools, Harrogate Spring Conference, Liberal Democrats, Liberator, Nick Clegg, Paul Holmes, Reinventing the State, social liberals, Steve Webb, The Orange Book, trust schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.