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Sorry to DVA and one or two others that we're discussing this issue again but I thought an article by David Cameron on the issue of his background merited another ToryDiary. About to have some breakfast now and then I'll post about David Davis' Independent on Sunday article about civil liberties.

This post begins with an assertion that many think David Cameron wants to deny people a good education because he went to Eton! How ridiculous is that? But it sets the tone for the whole thing. It's always interesting to see what 'ConservativeHome' thinks, because I thought it was supposed to be the home of the Tory grassroots. It keeps on looking like this website isn't really their home - its more the home of Tim Mongomerie's personal political beliefs, which everyone else can just debate about. This site is more a place for the Editor to engage in a certain kind of campaigning than it is a spokesman for the Tory grassroots.

Where have you been John for the last two weeks? Did you not hear the Today programme interview? David Cameron's Eton education was 50% of the interview!

I do not personally think that his upbringing is particularly fair politics. What David Cameron does now - policywise etc - in extending opportunity is the only issue that matters but others disagree. Nearly every newspaper has spotlighted the number of Etonians on his frontbench and in his inner team.

David Cameron clearly thinks it matters, too, or he wouldn't have written the passage he has today.

Could ConservativeHome do a profile of the women and ethnic minority candidates that have been selected?

How many are from public sector and charity sector backgrounds?

How many are still accountants, lawyers, bankers and politicos?

Speaking as a product of a comprehensive school, I have to say that DC need feel no shame at his good fortune of an Eton education. He is also correct to decry "experimental teaching methods".

Unfortunately, it seems that the Willets proposals for tinkering with the existing system are precisely such an experiment. Grammar schools are tried, tested and work.

The problem with DC's background s not really his background - but the sheer amount of those around him who share it. From the shadow cabinet to the A-list there is suspicion of a a bias for people from a certain background. We need to be doing more to demonstrate that Conservatism is not an exclusive club. If we don't, it will be a key avenue for attack come the elections.

Exactly Prentiz. David Cameron did not choose where he went to school, but he did choose his shadow cabinet and advisors.

What percentage of the shadow cabinet is non-white? Does this reflect the national split? No.

What percentage of the shadow cabinet went to state school? Does this reflect the national split? No.

What percentage of the shadow cabinet are women? Does this reflect the national split? No.

So don't try to pull the wool over our eyes Mr Cameron. Where you alone went to school is of consequence, and no fault of yourself, but you alone take responsibility for your shadow cabinet that is stuffed full of white, middle class private schoolers.

"... experimental teaching methods that failed generations of children" -

Like insisting that all the children in a given area were best taught in the same state secondary school, irrespective of their academic ability and/or aptitude.

That was an experiment, driven by a crackpot socialist ideology and a vindictive desire to destroy the ****ing grammar schools. And over forty years it's proved to be a failed experiment, rarely better than the previous tripartite system and often far worse. So isn't it time to think about how to terminate that experiment and try something else? Preferably NOT selection by wealth, or by race or religion.


"What percentage of the shadow cabinet is non-white? Does this reflect the national split? No.

What percentage of the shadow cabinet went to state school? Does this reflect the national split? No.

What percentage of the shadow cabinet are women? Does this reflect the national split? No."

YHN it is not his fault the Tory party was such a useless opposition for 10 years that it was so far from being representative of Britain. It will probably take another 2 GE's.

Cameron is surely right that his school background should preclude him from having his own view and policy on state education. The personalising of issues practiced by some on this blog and the constant attacks on DC for his background are in my opinion wrong and also counter productive.
It is like saying that one cannot have views on defence issues unless one had been a soldier or talk about crime unless experience of the inside of a prison had been gained!
Having said that I do feel the whole Grammar debate has been badly handled by DC. It is no fun being told by our leader that debate is 'pointless' or that I'm 'delusional' because I happen to strongly believe that an expansion of grammar schools will benefit children, the country and social mobility.

Cameron says that he won't give his children the same privileged education that he had. Is that what a normal Conservative parent would say? I wonder how his children feel about this!

I thought he had already found a super little C of E school near his London home, or was that Osborne too ? That this school had such a charm that it was lottery odds of 10.350.000:1 of getting a child admitted.......lucky sperm club and all that

Found it !

School

State-run Oxford Gardens Primary is right opposite his house but so popular it has a 400-metre catchment area. It is unclear whether the Camerons would fall within its remit.

I have to say that it is my perception that the editorials take great pleasure in undermining the leadership of the Tory Party and give a ready platform to the likes of You Hypocrite Noble (occasional member of UKIP).

Liam Fox writes in the Telegraph today that he strongly agrees with Cameron and Willetts on grammar schools.
Naturally, Melessa Kite doesn't mention it in her article, but I thought it was worth a mention on ConHome.

No previous leader of the Conservatives has done as much, for example, to bust open the selection of Parliamentary candidates to include more women (now over a third) and more black and minority ethnic candidates.

No previous leader has done so much for the cause of Political Correctness, which is why Cameron is such a thundering disgrace.

As an individual with three children aged five or under, I worry more about finding good state schools than almost anything else.

Does anybody seriously imagine that if Cameron were not a political wanabee with an electorate to smokescreen that this would be a concern of his? Of course not. He has the money and connections to send his children to the most expensive schools in the country, and that is exactly what he would do.

As for John Reeks's tendentious assertion that CH is 'not the voice of the grassroots' I can only agree to this extent.

The leftish views expressed by the noisy Cameroon clique on CH are representative of only a minority faction within the party. Apart from a slavish loyalty to whoever happens to be leading the party at any given time grassroots opinion is almost invariably 'right wing'

Isn't that why the left called us 'The Nasty Party'? Actually, nothing could be more nasty than the left, whether Nulabour or Blulabour.

Why we have come back to this old, old story I don`t know.What school David Cameron went to is a total non-issue. I am getting the impression that the Editor of this site is after the impressive local election results now desperate to find any reason he can to discredite the leader of the party and is becoming like the rowdy schoolboy who throws rubbers at the teacher when his back is turned. Pathetic!

Jack Stone your remarks are a disgrace. The 'owner' of this site does more for the cause of Conservatism than many Tory MP's

Your own contribution to the Tory cause is totally negative, but that's the intention isn't it?

Care to explain why two longstanding Conservative activists in Southend - where you claim to be a party worker - have never heard of you?

Why we have come back to this old, old story I don`t know.

Because Jack Stone education is how parents transmit their values and that of their heritage to their children....and many are simply terrified that they are going to be dispossessed of their national heritage and their children will grow up indoctrinated in political claptrap and alienated from their country's history, literature and be illiterate and innumerate.....unless they have money to buy them an educational privately.

If you cannot understand that this is THE MAJOR issue you must be completely bonkers

It is important that this site is closed down by Conservative Headquarters. Any advice that the Tory grassroots have for the leadership should be passed to Francis Maude in private. Airing our laundry in public on a blogsite is the modern day equivalent of Michael Foot's early 1980s Labour party.

Beats me why David Cameron would wish to promote the Fabian agenda of comprehensives and dumbing down to achieve the nonsense of equality of social class so assiudously promoted by Sir Graham Savage of the late but not lamented LCC.

It is more important that enemies of free expression like "Felicity Mountjoy"
never get their hands anywhere near the levers of power in this country.

'Felicity' sums up the Cameroon mindset so perfectly it's a shame she's only a (UKIP?) troll.


This site is not controlled by the Conservative Party, FM. It would appear that you regard thinking for oneself as a form of mutiny.

AFAIK, the proportion of people from ethnic minorities on the candidates' list is much the same as in the last Parliament. In any event, it is a very superficial way of looking at increasing opportunities.

Why do people think anyone who went to a private school had a say in the matter? For a school like Eton Cameron would probably have been entered on the waiting list whilst he was in the womb. Who at that age is even aware of this, let alone able to protest it?

Wow ! I don't know who Felicity Mountjoy is but she has certainly blown her cover.....she ought to read David David on Labour's ineffective authoritarianism and return to her handler for new instructions.

We really are facing a concerted effort to enslave people in thought and deed

Felicity Mountjoy @ 12.10. A nice waspish, satirical post. I hope.

You can comment about the various merits of grammer, comprehensive and private schools all you like but the type of school David Cameron or Tony Blair for that matter attended as nothing to do with there ability to lead the country.
This is just another attempt by the right to discredite David Cameron.

Lindsay Jenkins @ 12:16 -

"Beats me why David Cameron would wish to promote the Fabian agenda ..."

It is puzzling, but I increasingly get the impression that the overall strategy is based on the old adage: "If you can't beat them, join them".

Not that DC has actually joined the Fabian Society, as far as I know. :-)

In terms of the party political spectrum this does leave a massive gap for those who think of themselves as "progressive right" - or even as "progressive centre".

I've really enjoyed reading this thread - so many valid points have been made. Everyone knows that I favour grammar schools - but can we move away from this issue now? I'm getting, like so many other people, a little bored.

I think you should address the wider issue -how members and supporters can effectively channel their views to the Party Leadership.

Hold on! DC is doing enough on his own to discredit himself!

"..but can we move away from this issue now? I'm getting, like so many other people, a little bored."

You are clearly not a parent.

What has been resolved? After all the noise, all the angriness, spin and political positioning, underneath we have found that Cameron simply plans to do nothing more than tinker with the existing Labour limits on selection.

With the Cameroons seeking to explain this as taking the Labour policy further (ie offer a marginally wider amount of selection), surely the logical conclusion to such a move is to remove bars to selection entirely.

Until the real modernising policy of completely removing any centrally-imposed limits on selection, combined with a voucher system is introduced, education will remain a political football where the kids are the losers.

In such a situation Justin, parents are not likely to get bored of this subject quite as quickly as yourself.

What is sad is that this policy would please both modernisers and traditionalists and goes to show that the Cameron Project fits into neither of these camps.

Chad: why don't you do us all a favour and piss off? Sorry, Ed, to use bad language here - but this loon is a prfessional troll who has nothing constructive or positive to say to ConHome readers.

Before this debate finally runs out of steam let's dispose of the canard that 'failing the 11 plus consigned two thirds of children to the scrapheap' Total nonsense.Millions navigated their way through Secondary Moderns/Comprehensives to good Qualifications.Many more joined the ranks of the 'self taught' left school at 15 and slogged their way through day-release and Night School. The 'Teach Yourself' movement is well established.If you can read and write and have the motivation who needs a school. Now with the Internet it is even easier!!

Grammar Schools work - and what works should be replicated - but don't ever overstate the consequences of failing a selection test.

Sorry Justin, what is loon about being a parent, or letting schools control their own admissions?

Why would that deserve insults?

HOMOPHOBIC COMMENTS OVERWRITTEN BY THE EDITOR

You homophobic little creep. Now shoe!

Not at all, just highlighting why you find yourself so "bored" of a subject that parents actually care a great deal about.

You started throwing around the insults to what was a sensible post about choice and parental rights.

So YHN, where do you think gay people come from if not from heterosexual families.....?
And are straight couples with no children not allowed to have a view on Education? What about healthy people, are they not allowed to have a view on the NHS?

Please do not engage with YHN. I have now attempted to ban him and overwritten his hateful and homophobic comment. Please get back to the thread folks...

Hateful? Complete crap.

You let your posters insult someone who simply advocates freeing schools from political interference but do not think Justin lack of personal connection with the subject was not an influence on his 'boredom' with the subject?

Sure I could have put it in a better way, but why should I when you are happy to let your posters call people who disagree with Cameron as loons?

Thanks, Ed. Have just been reading about Willetts' idea for schools to select by race. Has this man taken leave of his senses? What would happen in Tottenham, my patch, where most kids are from the BME communities? Would schools be forced to bus white kids in from Enfield to meet his targets? No doubt Willetts will beat Francis Maude and Theresa May on ConHome's least favourite/effective shadow cabinet member in the next poll...

Your agenda is to obvious Tim. People can read back through this thread and then see Justim just jump in an insult me.

You do have a habit of "letting the dogs" on to me and break your own "don't attack the person rule".

Your agenda is too obvious Tim. People can read back through this thread and then see Justin just jump in an insult me.

Did you act? Of course not.

You do have a habit of "letting the dogs" on to me and break your own "don't attack the person rule".

YHN writes Why do Tories like yourself who spend your time taking up the arse think you knpow what is best for how heterosexuals raise their families?

This is exactly the sort of comment which achieves the following:

(*) makes a fool of the argument in the actual thread; one reads down the list, thinking 'oh yes', 'I see', 'ah, don't agree with that' and then one comes to this, and one concludes 'any argumentative position which contains people like YHN is the opposite of where I shall be'.

(*) should give the decent unCameroons cause before posting or at least take care with their language. I don't know how to put this, but there's a reason why our brand preDC was toxic to normal people, and it's completely summed up by YHN's post. Here's the test: if you think there's a warped kind of internal logic to YHN's posting, then you are part of the problem, and the changes will, rightly, leave you behind. Do permit yourself to get wound up in impotent rage, YHN

(*) there really, really ought to be comment moderation on this website. It belongs to the Editor who should run it as he wishes, of course, but I wonder who is helped -- other than people like me, who have their prejudices about the forces of reaction confirmed -- in our party by allowing excrement like YHN's post to be rubbed all over the words "Conservative Home"? I am a Conservative, and I am At Home, and something like YHN would not get house room.

Justin,
I'm not liking the sound of it either, but I'm reserving judgement until I actually read a Conservative party document on it, not some news story which is being spun to attack Cameron.

If it was simply optional selection, which schools could opt into then I might be able to get behind it. Forced centralised targets as you say would be a terrible idea, especially from a logistics stand point.

The funny thing is that I'm a huge fan of grammar schools, yet I was still attacked by him...

Having read through this discussion, I hope to God that none of the voters that I am trying hard to attract are aware of this web site.

Cameron's speech today (see above) was hugely encouraging to read and I was feeling pretty positive about things - until I read what Willets article. There may indeed be some merit, which I doubt,about the suggestion but the argument is too academic and gets lost on normal people. We have to use language which the public can understand - not highly intellectual language which can be easily twisted and frowned upon by the media. Am I making any sense?

There is comment moderation on the site, Graeme, where we are discussing individual candidates - the Seats and Candidates and LondonMayor blogs, for example. We also have moderation on CF Diary because of the excitable history of student politics! I'm reluctant to introduce further moderation but will do so if things deteriorate. The best thing to do when nasty folk appear is to email me and Sam about their posts and then ignore them. We'll delete, overwrite and attempt to ban.

Justin
Yes you are - Willets is obviously a great back room thinker and the problems he is wrestling with are major problems; the development of segregated populations and it's re-inforcement through the educational system, similar to the problems in education of schools dominated by haves and have nots. However he doesn't seem to have the common sense to test these through discussions with normal people outside the political sphere.
I was reading a blog on Andrew Sullivan about how Obama connects with voters by being real (or appearing to). Cameron has that ability but his message is often lost through the PR beforehand. I can see in the various speeches on education glimmers of a new and improved system - one that is about more than comprehensives v grammars & secondary moderns. Charter schools (vouchers under another name in many ways), increased independence for all schools, choice, selection by more than aptitude in limited fields but extended to maths & sciences. Return to traditional discipline and examination rigour. Lots of strong conservative messages on parental responsibility, choice, strengthening institutions - drowned out by unecessary positioning.
Cameron has the ability to say these things and to say them in ways that parents understand - but the PR is getting in the way.

Justin Hinchcliffe wrote;
''". We have to use language which the public can understand - not highly intellectual language which can be easily twisted and frowned upon by the media. Am I making any sense?""

You certainly did at 1339. Just a pity that you had to use such language. But then it's hardly the first down that you have reduced debate to a slanging match.
A little more thought and a fewer histrionics would not go amiss.

1339? I'm not Archbishop Cranmer you know - was born in 1981! (-:

http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1842334.ece

Amazing, isn't it?

Has 10 years of Labour in power really effected our Conservative MP's so badly that all they can now do is seek to emulate their captors?

There is an absolute truckload of problems which have been generated by this target and quota led culture that Labour have brought into being. What the hell has happened to make coercion an attractive proposition for a Conservative like Willets?

The more people that read and are aware of a site like this the better. 'Grassroots' people need to know that there still is the option of democracy available to them and that there are Conservatives around who actually are Conservative in their beliefs.

Keep on blogging bloggers!

Justin,
I'm not liking the sound of it either, but I'm reserving judgement until I actually read a Conservative party document on it, not some news story which is being spun to attack Cameron.

He's probably taking on board the new legal requirements on schools as from September 2007.

They would do well to remember that there is relative peace in major cities because of segregation in schooling - start bussing and forced integration and they will lose control of cities as the Americans found in Boston MA when they had bussing

Bradford would be in flames if they tried stunts like Willetts proposes....as all groups took to the barricades.

"He's probably taking on board the new legal requirements on schools as from September 2007.

They would do well to remember that there is relative peace in major cities because of segregation in schooling - start bussing and forced integration and they will lose control of cities as the Americans found in Boston MA when they had bussing

Bradford would be in flames if they tried stunts like Willetts proposes....as all groups took to the barricades."
Aye yes, I'd forgotten that Johnson had already proposed something similar.

We musn't forget that American culture is very different from our own, the fact that we speak the same language we often fool ourselves into forgetting this. I'm not entirely sure that we would have the same issues as they did in Boston, but I wouldn't want anything like this implemented without the locals backing it, and should be decided on a case by case basis.

Virtual segregation already occurs within schools with a mixed ethnic background and can be deeply damaging, so we would need to figure out the solution to this issue before trying to solve the issue of segregation between schools.

The reason this subject is running for so long, is that it is a big topic nationally. Every parent and grandparent wants a bright future for the offspring, and nowadays that means a good education. And all of us need a well-educated pool of talent to innovate and to grow the economy.

It doesn't matter whether they want to be a plumber or a scientist, they still need to be able to read and write. However, forty-odd years of stalinist education regimes have created a system that fails them.

The media have had a growing number of stories about failures in education over the past year; Willets simply tapped into the ongoing debate. I suppose we should be grateful that people are actually interested in a Conservative education policy, but we should also be cognizant of the anti-Tory bias of the bulk of the media.

We need to learn from this episode that we don't yet need prescriptions when there are another 2-3 years of Labour failure to come. What we need to do is set the terms of the debate, and engage with the electorate to make them think about the solutions that will give them the results they want.

But you can't have a meaningful discussion with someone with a closed mind, so stating up-front that some options are in or out smacks of New Labour and its "Big Conversation". It creates the impression that the Tories are just another insular, know-it-all bunch of politicos - is that appealing to the average voter?

We had great local election results, we got more votes than Labour in England at the last GE, so we have the right to challenge what the government is doing and frame the debate so that party members and the elctorate understand what future policy is about. That's all we should be doing for the next year or two.

It's no wonder people are asking Cameron about Eton; he has invited such prejudiced thinking.

Instead of taking a principled stand against preferential treatment of members of arbitrarily defined groups, and in favour of judging individuals as individuals, the party is even more guilty of group thinking than is Labour. The A-list system is worse than Labour's all-women short lists, because at least under the latter men could compete freely for half the seats; the only white middle aged men with a chance under the A-list system are Cameron's cronies. And now Willets is calling for racial selection for school entry!

I just want to say that Felicity Mountjoy and I have never met........

I'm not entirely sure that we would have the same issues as they did in Boston,

They had the same bussing ......but people in Bradford stopped it

In 1975, the Race Relations Board decided that bussing Brad-ford's Asian children into white communities contravened the Race Relations Act. The board

argued that because children were only being bussed in one direction, it was being done on the basis of racial or ethnic identity rather than educational need.

Alagaiah

"1339? I'm not Archbishop Cranmer you know - was born in 1981! (-:

Yes, but you are the deeply unpleasant Justin Hinchcliffe who was suspended from the Tory Party for telling poor people to fish from the Thames if they want food?

What right minded person would ever think that, at any age?

Good to highlight that it is the Cameron supporters who are the real 'nasty' element within the party.

Let's make Deeply Unpleasant's personal nastiness the last personal nastiness on this thread please.

Interesting article, Justin Hinchcliffe @ 16:15, ie

http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1842334.ece

Willetts is quite correct about the effect that committed parents with adequate resources can have not just on the academic performance of a young child but also its cognitive ability.

".... grabbing a file from his packed bookshelves, eager to explain a point he was making about how early on in life (22 months) a middle-class child starts to seize his or her advantage."

But firstly it's wrong to express that in these rather inflammatory terms:

"Research studied by Mr Willetts has shown that the cognitive skills of a rich, stupid toddler will typically improve, while those of a poor, bright toddler decline. The rich, dumb kids in general overtake their poor, bright classmates at 5 years old, and keep increasing their advantage after that."

In fact statistically the rich toddler is less likely to be "stupid" or "dumb" than
the poor toddler to start with - because the conditions of modern society have increased the statistical correlation between the intelligence of adults and their prosperity, and maybe half of the variation in intelligence between children is accounted for by their genetic inheritance from their parents.

It follows that, again only speaking statistically of course, the poor toddler will have a double disadvantage - on average lower inherited intelligence, plus lower than average development of that intelligence through the efforts of its parents.

But I don't see how that in itself impacts on the question of secondary schools selecting their intake on the basis of academic ability and/or aptitude.

"For the theme of the speech was far bigger than grammar schools. Mr Willetts set out starkly the reason why selection at 11 is unfair: because the middle classes entrench their advantage at a much younger age."

So exactly how does it help that problem to insist on bunging all 11 year olds, some very bright and some very dumb, into one school?

Or is it just intended to teach middle class parents not to be so damn pushy?

Seeing as the middle classes make up the majority of the country what exactly is to be gained electorally by finger wagging at them for entrenching their advantages?

If Willetts weren't such a geek he's correlate academic success with books on shelves in the home. If the parents can read the child will read; if the parents read to the child, the child will read earlier.

If the child reads before starting school the teacher will hold him back to make her life easier while the others catch up.

The child will then regress as he waits for the slowest ship in the convoy and gets bored

If Willetts weren't such a geek he's correlate academic success with books on shelves in the home. If the parents can read the child will read; if the parents read to the child, the child will read earlier.

If the child reads before starting school the teacher will hold him back to make her life easier while the others catch up.

The child will then regress as he waits for the slowest ship in the convoy and gets bored. It all depends how long you want the convoy to be

Yes, a convoy can only travel at the speed of the slowest ship - an analogy
I've used repeatedly over the last 18 years since our eldest started school.

Editor; ConservativeHome is a very valuable resource for all Tories. I'm not debating that at all. All I'm saying is that a site which proclaims to be the 'voice of the tory grassroots' should not produce editorial comment before people have the chance to reply to stories. And, furthermore, the debate is guided very heavily by the choice of phrases and the content which the editorial team decides to put on the site. All of this means that this site is NOT the voice of the Tory grassroots, however useful it may be. It doesn't speak for me, nor does it speak for thousands of other grassroots Tories. This thread is the perfect example of this. (It is, however, a great place to come and check the news and offer a thought!)

David Cameron and Liam Fox are evading the case made for grammar schools. They really do need to respond to this:

"David Cameron is facing a fresh challenge to his authority with a member of his frontbench team producing new evidence showing that grammar schools dramatically improve the exam results of a whole neighbourhood."
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article1848439.ece

Posted by: Deeply Unpleasant | May 27, 2007 at 17:41:

You may not like me for what I may or my not have said when I was 14. Ic an live with that. But please do not use my Association website as a link. Thank you.

David Cameron is right to take the "Eton factor" seriously. But it is by policies that help strivers that his success on this will be judged. Matthew d'Ancona, ordinarily a staunch moderniser, made this point in a very powerful article on Sunday:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/05/27/do2703.xml

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