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You're not exactly pouring water on the flames, are you? I will read the report and respond more fully. In the meantime, whatever this latest research suggests there is more than enough evidence out there to show that selection is not only efficient but necessary. A mix of abilities means that focus is lost, purpose obscured, the teacher distracted, the intelligent neglected, the unintelligent forgotten and the bullies in heaven. Any casual, unannounced visit to a comprehensive school will confirm this picture. As I say, you will be hearing from me again.

Hmmm. Isn't this subject getting a wee bit boring Tim?

Also, isn't the point that a majority of actual *voters* don't support a return to grammar schools?

Iain has more:


The quarrel between the Telegraph and Cameron should cause us all dismay. The only people likely to gain from it are Labour and the Lib Dems.
Even though I support the Telegraphs' position on Grammar schools I really do question their wisdom in publishing this today.
Equally Iain Dale chides DC for making snide remarks about the Telegraph on his blog. Iain is absolutely right. DC should know better.

Blair describes the media as 'feral beasts', DC gently teases the Torygraph and Simon Heffer over lunch. DC may not feel the same way after ten years as PM, but as a Tory, I'm happier to have a leader with a sense of humour and calmness under fire than a demob happy, prickly hypocrite.

So, basically, the opening sentences of that Telegraph article are an outright lie.

The row over academic selection was reignited last night ...

No it wasn't. The only comment was in the Telegraph article.

after a study concluded that more grammar schools would boost the results of working class pupils and raise education standards nationwide.

No, it explicitly did not.
"Clearly this research cannot be interpreted as evaluating the overall effects of a comprehensive or selective ('tracked') system of education"

Researchers said that expanding the number of selective places was just as likely to benefit children from poor homes.

Which, again, they did not.
"Part of the large differential in educational outcomes between these socio-economic groups is directly attributed to the lower probability of children from poor family backgrounds entering into grammar schools."

The Telegraph has become a poor joke. No wonder it's haemorraghing market share.

I am also getting a bit tired of the grammar school debate. I haven't commented on it deliberately, because I can't see anything wrong with having grammar schools - and as the saying goes 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'. However, I AM heartily sick of this ... governments mantra (used to cover a multitude of self interest) - that the poor working classes can't get themselves out of poverty without endless government intervention. This is a convenient lie which is perpetrated for political purposes, if anyone has any knowledge of history, which rules out many younger people - who apparently (in the state system anyway) don't study 'history' anymore - would know that very many people have managed to 'better' their chances in life through managing to get to a grammar school.

I started getting angry about the discussion on grammar schools quite a long time ago when Shirley Williams - as was, sort fit to try and achieve the abolition of grammar schools (if not private education entirely), she herself of course being such an elevated being that a privileged education, for her, was quite right and proper!!

Well thats done now, and thats my comment on grammar schools!!

Simon, I think I am pouring a little water on the flames. It's unlikely another newspaper would run an article like the post I've just written, and unlikely that there would be a prominent correction in the Telegraph.

Paul, I was bored of it after about day three but I'm not the one dragging it on here - I'm criticising the Telegraph for doing so!

Patsy 11:34


It's always been clear to me that if you treat people like children, they will act like children.

This government continously tries to "help" the poorer classes and all they achieve is to take away ever more initative and responsibility from them, leading to even more helplessness and problems.

It a self-perpetuating problem exacarbated by the governments "solutions".

Why can't the left recognise that by every adult taking control and responsibility over their own lives a far better society will result than 100,000 bureaucrats in Whitehall trying to guess what everyone needs and do it for them?

More shoddy reporting from the Telegraph stable. Shame on them.

You rather let the cat out of the bag by admitting that the co-author who came to Willetts's rescue is left wing. Typically of the left she starts by trying to sound impartial and therefore objective:

"The paper does not address or provide evidence on whether selective or comprehensive education systems do better..."

She then slips in the thoroughly partisan idea that selection "entrenches social disadvantage."

This is, of course, nonsense. One of the things selection does is to reflect the consequences of an inadequate up-bringing. The modern working class, demoralised, preyed on by social workers and thieves, deprived of its identity and even of its homes by mass immigration, is in no position to bring its children up properly. In such circumstances, talent rots. The solution is not to debauch education to make sure that this is disguised. It is to attack the roots of the problem socially, which means that crime, drugs and uncontrolled migration should be sharply reduced.

A sound, selective education system serves as a barometer of society's general health. If the numbers of working class children attending them falls, it is a sign that the working class is suffering - in its homes, on its streets, in its boroughs and towns. It is in these places that the remedy should be applied, not in the schools, which serve another purpose. In short, Education should not be used as the blunt instrument of envious social levelling, which what the comprehensive dumps were always for.

As for your attacks on the Telegraph, they are shameful, unmerited and dishonourable. The Telegraph has bitten its lip and sucked its teeth and knotted its fingers behind its back in the effort to be fair to Cameron. The editorials backed him over the grammars - with sensible reservations - and Bill Deedes sang his praises. Charles Moore also tried to mend matters, arguing in Cameron's favour in The Spectator even though he has for many years written in defence of selection. Your cheap sniping is a sorry return for such constructive generosity.

As for your "other newspaper" point, Deputy Editor, are you seriously suggesting that neither the Mirror, nor the Guardian, nor the Independent, nor - in some moods, the Times would defend Cameron's new stance? Not to mention the scandalous BBC. Don't give me that "right wing press" rubbish - the media has been left dominated for the last ten years.

Simon Denis,
This is not meant to be a debate on the merits of academic selection, it's about an example of poor journalism in an attempt to attack Cameron.

The Telegraph has derived a meaning from an academic paper which wasn't there, and it's authors insist was not there. I'm fine with the Telegraph writing articles citing real sources, but in this case they failed to find a report which backed up their chosen conclusion.

And which is of the greater importance to the country? Education or the supposed bias of a newspaper?

Obviously education itself, but that doesn't stop us from debating the fact that the Telegraph is now taking lessons from Alistair Campbell.

I'm furious whenever I see articles in a newspaper suggesting that tax cuts automatically mean a loss of services, because it's a blatant lie. However, I'm now supposed to allow the Telegraph to make up facts, just because it's sympathetic to our cause. Why should we condone engaging in this dirty practice just because it suits our aims?

I think the leadership is being short sighted in picking fights with the Telegraph. The fact remains the Telegraph shares the same values as many natural Tories.

It is one thing to aim to capture the centre ground but quite another to douse the right flank in petrol behind you.

The Telegraph should be viewed as bedrock. It was after all papers like the Telegraph that kept the message alive in our wilderness years of 1997-2003. We attack them at our peril. Politics is ultimately cyclical and we will need them again sometime.

But on whose word, Chris, are you assuming that the Telegraph is behaving as you suggest? Have you read the report? And even if the report's own emphasis is on some distinct aspect of education,it may be that it incidentally offers support for other conclusions - conservative conclusions. Bear this possibility in mind before you accuse a journalist of "making things up". Remember, only the left wing co-author has come to Willetts's aid. What about her colleague?

Let us now turn to motives. Think of how keen the Telegraph itself has been to dampen down the grammar row - see my second submission to this exchange. It could hardly ignore it, given that its readership would naturally take an interest in the issue. However, it wheeled out its old guard - those to whom the retired majors and WI ladies naturally defer - with the obvious aim of bringing the grass roots round to Cameron's side. Would such a paper be making mischief now, when the debate is rumbling back underground?

Simon Denis is right, the Telegraph has to serve its readership, or risk losing them. And grammar schools have their merits.

Messrs Willetts and Cameron see the reintroduction of the tripartite system as politically un-doable and so are looking at some flavour of vouchers as a proven quality raiser.

Vouchers with selection, or without is no doubt a debate that will rumble on for a while yet.

Willetts came up with the utterly spurious spin that grammar schools "entrench social advantage"....conveniently failing to point out that this is because all the grammar schools in working class areas, amd most of the rest, have been abolished.

The Telegraph is now doing a bit of counterspinning.

What's sauce for the goose and all that....

If the Telegraph is reflecting conservative values and principles, that is good news. I had thought they were to kind on the Cameroons in the first place.

Graham Checker @ 11:57 - "... by every adult taking control and responsibility over their own lives a far better society will result ..." But in anything to do with schools parents are not controlling their own lives, but the lives of their children -insofar as the state allows them any control at all.

Many of the commentators above seem to believe that the 'the Telegraph' is only of one mind or opinion. That is is simply not true. Some of its columnists are friendly to the views of the Conservative party leadership such as Bill Deedes,Alice Miles etc and some like Simon Heffer, Janet Daley are unremmitingly hostile like Simon Heffer or Janet Daley. The Editor seems quite happy to continue the papers janus like approach which I think is interesting to a reader like me but might in the end be counter productive. In the end the choice for Telegraph readers as with bloggers on CH is quite simple. Do we want a Conservative or Labour government? Nothing else is on offer. So whilst I think DC happens to be wrong on acedemic selection I believe that his proposals are better than that on offer from the current government. Perhaps the Telegraph (and we ) would be better having this argument after the Conservative party have won a GE, not before.

I think you are right Malcolm!

I could not disagree with you more Malcolm. It is not the Telegraph's job to give whoever is running the Tory Party a blank cheque and I do not think it has done that in the past. Cameron made it clear he was in for change and because I suspected it would be bad news I did not vote for him. I don't think most of those who voted for him realised modernisation meant PC Labour Lite. Not only should the media debate policy, so should the party. It should not be handed down in a fashion that is at one and the same time patrician and cack handed to those
below who are treated with open disdain.


Since we are on the subject of grammar schools the following Guardian link illustrates the disproportionate number of Tory MPs who went to private schools and Eton. And they think they have the right to tell the rest of us what is best in terms of secondary education:


Thanks Patsy! Apologies for not previewing my posts (again!)

This whole "shut up until we've won" argument is bilge. To start with, how many people do you imagine bother to read this stuff? Second, even if things do turn out all right, "shut up until we've won" has a tendency to mutate into "shut up or we'll lose", stifling debate forever. Also, if we do indeed shut up then the assumptions on which current electoral strategy is predicated go unchallenged. As they are flawed, this would be a pity. This whole website supposed to be a forum anyway. Follow Malcolm and Patsy's advice and it shuts down. Or perhaps we are supposed to send in messages of comfort and support to our Great Leader.

Iain Dale over on his thread has got a much sounder take on this issue than the Deputy Editor here has.

I am the only one who detects a possible common thread in the Cameroons socially patrician we know what is best for you attitude towards state secondary education (to wit the grammars) and which newspapers should be saying what.

I like Daniel Finkelstein's Comment Central in the Times and his Wednesday columns.

For a year or so now, he has been educating us in the ways of marketing, introducing us to the way successful marketing persons play on "anchoring", "framing" and other illogical features of our thinking to influence us.

The suggestion was that the Conservative high command were masters of this arcane knowledge. Good.

Mr Finkelstein's 16 May column introduced the notion of situationism, a theory of how to influence the behaviour of crowds. It is a theory devoid of all morality, personal responsibility doesn't enter into it, but maybe that's how marketing persons think. And in that context he also trailed David Willetts's fateful speech on education.

I understand that the speech had some good things in it. Vouchers, for example. But that bit of the message did not get through in the next week's vituperation. So much for marketing expertise.

Since then, Mr Finkelstein has kept the flame burning. In Comment Central, at least, there is no need to re-ignite it. It never went out.

His column last week repeated his call for change. The Conservative Party must change, otherwise it will continue to lose general elections.

That is accepted, of course. But change in what way?

Huskies don't vote. Neither do wind turbines on the roof. And hoodies aren't likely to vote Conservative. What changes are likely to make more people vote Conservative? Abandoning grammar schools? People can vote Labour and get that, there is no need to vote Conservative if that's what they want.

Despite those flaws, people who continue to object to the Conservative high command's programme, whatever it is, are accused of "not getting it". And in last week's article, Mr Finkelstein threw down the gauntlet:
"Some may think that there is a brilliant, attractive, right-wing synthesis, a magical narrative that obviates the need for any concessions to the centre. Well, if there is, please don’t keep the secret to yourself. Share it with the rest of us."

I have picked up the gauntlet and submitted a Conservative home affairs "narrative".

Would other people in this forum do the same for other portfolios? Defence? Foreign affairs? The benefits system? Perhaps even ... education?

Many of us have offered proposals in all sorts of areas. The grass roots and the wider right wing public are well aware of what needs to be done: restore selection, curb immigration, slash tax and leave the EU. At heart, Cameron and his cronies agree - otherwise, how could the great man himself have worked for Lord Lamont and written the 05 manifesto? Where they differ from their ebbing pool of supporters is in their lack of backbone. They have resorted to cowardice and call it wisdom, as cowards always will. Backing down, conceding and greasing and wringing their hands, they may - just may - worm their way into office, but because of their promises they won't have power. They are like a man who is so anxious to patronise a brothel, that he is willing to part with his testicles as the price of entry. Far better to marry Britannia, as an ideologically intact male, by making her an honest proposal.

Today's Telegraph made excellent reading. Not just the fascinating and well-written report on NI grammar schools, but also Simon Heffer's tremendous article in the middle.

Heffer speaks for the Tory grassroots. and he speaks for Britain.

Of course we hear the usual whinge from the 'Roons that everybody is out of step except themselves. So sad.

It would be easy to get the Telegraph back on side. Just one very small change at the top...

What on Earth went wrong with the Telegraph? Was it Charles Moore's departure? Or the Barclay Brothers taking control?

Good point, Richard. The Telegraph group lost much of its fizz on the departure of Conrad Black. Moore and Johnson were infinitely more inspiring as editors than the new lot - although d'Ancona has come up trumps on selection. Perhaps that's why Cameron's cronies are so cross with these papers. They thought they'd got them on side and then they go and allow all sorts of oiks like us to support grammar schools in their pages. But the loss of vigorous commentators such as Mark Steyn, the sidelining of Heffer, the inclusion of Hattersly in the Spectator and of Denis Macshane in the Telegraph are all ominous signs - as is the Telegraph's decision to back Cameron in the education row. Even worse is the way the likes of Johnson and Moore seem to be muting and diluting their own messages. All right, Boris harrumphs as usual but the more he snorts and stamps the more his readers know he's doing a sort of comic turn. He can be deadly, but only when his sincere convictions are engaged and in common with his lamentable boss, he seems to have put them on ice. He would have shone in the days of real politics; he was a first rate editor but as a grovelling, snivelling man of the centre he is - to his credit - a washout. He's not nearly cold hearted enough for that.

Boris Johnson used to write a lot of sense when he was the DT's Europe correspondent but he seems to have gone totally off the rails since then.

Although I rather liked Black (he once wrote personally in agreement when I complained about the ravings of a guest correspondent, a pinko Tory MP, now deceased) he took the Telegraph into outer orbit with his obsessive support of the Yanks and Israel.

Strangely enough I also used to like Barbara Amiel when she wrote for the Sunday Times and I would love to see Mark Steyn back despite his awful views on the Iraq war.

I don't buy any newspapers anymore as they are stuffed full of a lot of matters that are of no interest to me. I find what news I wish to know about on the Net.

Despite that I cannot see how the Fops will benefit by parting ways with the Conservative readers to embrace readers of the Mirror and Sun as they will hardly vote Tory, if they bother to vote at all.
So the Telegraph and the Daily Mail may oppose Cameron and his Old Etonians but not because of what they are - it is because of what they say.

The NuCons are morphing into NuLab as each day passes. We have just endured 10 years of celebrity politics and we would like to return to commonsense and to running THIS country full-time.

October 2005: Cameron says (twice) that he is the 'Heir to Blair' and Osborne says they should not be afraid to say it.

January 2007: Cameron now not 'Heir to Blair'

May 2007: Cameron and Osborne, 'Heir to Blair' again.

..and no doubt so on depending on the audience at the time...

Is it any wonder that the Telegraph have little time for him?

You just don't get it do you. Telegraph journalists, as distinct from columnists, are inadequate panicers whose idea of "backbone" is to attack Tory leaders because attacking anyone else gets a thumping reply. They probably arn't paid much so writing anti Tory articles is a way of getting noticed and a pay rise.

The journalist probably didn't read or understand the report but couldn't resist the chance to scream abuse at Cameron. The same goes for all the other inadequte fools burbling on here about lack of Tory backbone because they won't support impossible policies.

"..because they won't support impossible policies.

Um, what like education funding following the child without imposing structures or ditching an NHS model for social insurance?

Don't let the fact that these policies that people like you call "headbagingly rightwing" are common and successful across Europe put you off your rant David... ;-)

"ditching an NHS model for social insurance"

Do you want to lose the next election? - Seriously if we adopted policies like that we might as well give up now. The public like the NHS, sure they'd like it to work better -but they don't want to ditch it and they sure won't vote for anyone who does.

"Do you want to lose the next election?"

That's what many said to Sarko when he scared the living crap out of many of the French by demanding real sacrifice to achieve real change, and even had to admit that he did scare people.

But he won.

And his fragrant public-friendly platitude opposition lost.

Sego's leftist policies were pretty barking though, and the French economy is clearly in a state and has been for ages.

It's not a fair comparison.


Taxing people out of the air, nuclear only as a last resort, all tax cuts offset by tax increases, hints of supporting the tax attack on private equity, forced racial mixing in schools, positive discrimination, more centralisation through fewer mp's, state funding of political parties etc etc.

It seems that your 'leftist barking policies point' is as relevant to the fragrant Cameron and it was to the fragrant Royal.

Sego's policies certainly were "barking" but so are Gordon Brown's. You think the British economy in a healthy state? The north of England has been turned over to neo-Soviet levels of state intervention. Moreover, given that Sarkozy represents such a rupture - he used the word himself - with past French practice, the comparison with the British situation is eminently fair. "Modern" tories all follow Mr Portillo in imagining that there is insufficient crisis or sense of crisis to warrant the sort of crusading right wing platform of a Salisbury or a Thatcher. But a situation in which housing goes to migrants before natives; in which the BNP attract growing vote share; in which grade inflation and politicised teaching makes a mockery of education; in which four thousand people die - that's right, die - every year in hospital from infections once fought with nothing but carbolic and elbow grease; in which unelected international bodies have greater powers than the elected parliament - that is crisis enough for any man of sense. If it is obscured it is because of the BBC's left wing strangle hold on what is considered "news". It is not some easy bunker-hugging option to point this out. It will take years of tireless, relentless campaigning to push the message past the new vested interests of the left. It is, however, the duty of any conservative party worth the name to fight the long war of principle and not the petty policy-wonk's popularity contest, which takes place before a shrunk electorate of complacent centrists.

"Taxing people out of the air"

Not regular people like me who only fly once or twice a year, hell, we have to show some leadership and I don't want to wreck the planet for the next generation, do you?

"nuclear only as a last resort"

Since when did uneconomic energy that is vunerable to terrorism become "right wing"

"tax cuts offset by tax increases"

Sharing the proceeds of growth will mean tax cuts for those need them. I think you are wrong on this point.

etc etc,

I would answer your other points but heck the final of The Apprentice is on in twenty minutes and I haven't had my tea yet.

My basic point is unless you really want 7 years of Gordon Brown get on board or get out the way.

"You think the British economy in a healthy state?"

Well, Cameron himself (straight into the cameron, nice huggable trees in the background) said that we are lucky to have a very successful economy on WebCameron just a few weeks ago.

Was he lying Simon?

Was Mr Cameron lying? I hope not. Was he purveying a complacent, rosy untruth? Very probably. The British economy is like a tramp steamer with a state of the art engine called "The City". Without the invisible earnings supplied by financial services we would be in a sorry state - precisely because dumprehensive education fits nobody for anything. The last thing the left wants is a skilled workforce. These, to use the unspeakable Hewitt's words, might become "plumbers for the rich" and, as we know. in a people's paradise the rich are expected to wade around in raw sewage. No, Mr Cameron must not be accused of lies - it is a low tactic. His unwillingness to face the alarming facts is sufficient ground for complaint.

"nice huggable trees"

Trees are nice aren't they! The more leaves you have generally mean you live in a nice area. I also like hugs, not sure about the combination although maybe I shoul try it.

I'd say the economy is teetering on the brink - GB could well push it over. What we need is a Conservative Governement to reduce the regulatory burden, cut taxes for business and stand up to the EU.

Which is exactly what DC will do, he has to win first though otherwise it will be 7 years or more regulation, higher taxes and a europhile in Downing Street, sigh.

The Barclay twins have clearly given orders to keep this issue stoked up with Heffer and Co. reliving their glory days of the nineties when Conrad Black and his hatchet man Charles Moore encouraged them to pile into John Major - and remember who they were boosting as the "man of destiny" - Portillo!!! But it won't work this time because a)Cameron has broken out of the Thatcher time capsule and is leading a rejuvenated party that can already smell the possibility of power and b)there is no credible alternative, no Portillo type figure they can salivate over........


Cameron has broken out of the Thatcher time capsule and is leading a rejuvenated party that can already smell the possibility of power and b)there is no credible alternative, no Portillo type figure they can salivate over........

What an utterly repellent series of images this passage conjures up.



Yet vile as they are, not one of these words can begin to compare with...


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