Monday, May 28, 2007

Graham Brady & Grammar Schools: Time for Cool Heads

It is being reported that Graham Brady, the Shadow Minister for Europe and former Shadow Schools Minister, has been "severely reprimanded" by the Chief Whip for making comments on grammar schools, outside his brief. A party spokeswoman said: "Graham has been severely reprimanded by the Chief Whip and told to stick to his brief."

Graham was quoted in The Times this morning saying...

"I accept the party's policy on grammar schools. But it is vitally important that policy should be developed with a full understanding of all of these facts, which might lead to the introduction of selection in other ways, including partial selection in academies and other schools."

Brady, a former grammar school pupil, has been a staunch defender of grammar schools in his constituency and was among the first Tories to challenge the party leadership's decision to drop a commitment to bring back the system, under which pupils were selected by ability.

I am not surprised that the Chief Whip should have had 'a word' with Graham but for an anonymous party press spokeswoman to make this public is intolerable. It's tantamount to encouraging him to fall on his sword.
Graham Brady has been an excellent Shadow Minister, both at education and now with the European portfolio. The Party would take leave of its collective senses if it allowed this to escalate any further.

38 comments:

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

How to persuade voters that the Tory party is open to fresh ideas and lively debate: er .. humiliate those who deviate from the party line?

Cranmer said...

Err... Mr Brady reiterated his support for Party policy - he merely reminded the leadership to formulate policy after objectively considering all the facts.

If Conservative Members may no longer voice an opinion of which they happen to be convicted, then there is no room for conviction in the Conservative Party. It is not a matter of 'freedom of speech' - of course MPs necessarily lose that when they take the Whip - but to be reprimanded for articulating the tensions between policy and philosophy, whilst reiterating support for that policy and referring to statistics to boot, does not bode well for the Conservative Party. How on earth does policy ever change or improve if there is to be no debate or discussion even around the facts?

Did someone call Gordon Brown 'Stalinist'?

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

Cameroon's a useless idiot.

Britain needs another Hugh Dowding not another Blair.

Anonymous said...

You have to be joking, Iain.

The blogs have done their best to stir up discontent on this issue despite YouGov showing the Tories at 39%.

It is reprehensible for a front bencher to be going to the press attacking the leader now. It's collective responsibility, if you don't like it, do the decent thing and resign. It says a lot for Cameron how lightly he has let this man off.

Praguetory said...

He's entitled to his view, but I would like to see Brady demonstrate progress with the snail-like development of the Movement for European Reform.

is cameron a winner or a wrecker? said...

Sacking/threatening good Shadow Ministers will not win Cameron LibDem votes, just lose him Tory ones.

chatterbox said...

Iain, I have read your article 3 times and I am sorry but you are being a wee bit cheeky in trying to spin this reprimand in such critical terms.
"Brady, a former grammar school pupil, has been a staunch defender of grammar schools in his constituency and was among the first Tories to challenge the party leadership's decision to drop a commitment to bring back the system, under which pupils were selected by ability."

"I am not surprised that the Chief Whip should have had 'a word' with Graham but for an anonymous party press spokeswoman to make this public is intolerable. It's tantamount to encouraging him to fall on his sword."
I would have thought that Cameron, Willets and the Shadow cabinet would find a front bench spokesman on Europe openly trying to undermine his leader, colleagues and his party AGAIN on education policy and in doing so reviving this dying story bl**dy annoying.
I think that such open and blatant disloyalty would have had any decent journalist questioning the leadership's authority with its own shadow cabinet. Having put the leadership in this position I think that Brady can count himself lucky that he was not sacked outright!
Can I now start guessing at what Tim Montgomery meant when he wrote this on the subject "For two incidents of disloyalty to the party position Mr Brady might have expected the sack but it is thought that he has senior protectors within the shadow cabinet."

Anonymous said...

"It's a War Iain... but not as we know it."

Let's face it, no one in the Tories has REALLY been arsed about Grammar Schools since the days when Maggie T was closing them down - otherwise something would have happened in the intervening 20 years or so. This is a proxy-war between the Duncan Smithite-Redwoodies and the Cameroonies which has been bubbling under ever since David Davies shot himself in the foot with that useless speech when he was all set up to replace Blair's war-bitch Michael Howard.

Anonymous said...

Brady has taken some of the sting out of the European issue and I think that William Hague and David Davis both rate him, tho probably not Liam Fox, since he was the only one of Foxy's team not to back him for the leadership.
If you sack Brady, you effectively stick two fingers up to everyone who is to the right of him, which is about half of the Parliamentary party.
Kudos to him for not sitting tight and hoping for a Shadow Cabinet job.

mitch said...

Janet Daley in the DT today has it spot on. This debate is about class, pure and simple. This new, crazy, policy can only hurt the already disadvantaged.

For me Cameron has blown all his credibility on this.

Anonymous said...

Blair could afford to annoy many of his backbenchers because he had so many. How many more will Cameron have to annoy before there is some kick back.

Yes Cameron got 2/3rd of the vote with members. In the first round with MPs there was quite a few who voted for candidates on the right of the party.

Anonymous said...

What a very Etonian way of dealing with things!
How many times have people spoken off brief in recent times? Home office and defence spring to mind.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Hague seeems to drift around a bit on those two briefs.
Will Dave go for another Mercer moment?

Snafu said...

How dare a Grammar school boy speak out of turn! He should defer to the thirteen odd old Etonians in the shadow cabinet!

Anonymous said...

Total Myth Alert.

Maggie did not 'close down' grammar schools.
After Labour's popularist destruction of them in the 1960s.

(Remember most children didn't get in and the outcome difference between those who did and those who didn't, often in the same family, was massive).

It was felt that the Government couldn't reverse the process, so Maggie handed down responsibility for the closures to the local authorities. She figured, I think, that local pressure from parents would keep schools open.

Of course, it didn't, and the pace of closure was upped by local authorities, usually Labour.

I would also suggest that Maggie made the same mistake over the Poll Tax. She figured if everybody paid the council tax, they would take an interest in how it was being spent and put pressure on the council not to waste money.

Of course it didn't turn out like that.

Anonymous said...

Dammit it's not as if he's ever owned a frock coat.

Anonymous said...

Wonder what would happen if the membership were polled now?

Chris Paul said...

Of course Maggie closed down Grammars. She understood how unpopular Secondary Moderns are with Tory/Labour swing voters.

Brady was fairly lucky to hang on in 2001 (about 2000 majority?) but safer in 2005. There are loads of the bloody things in his constituency for those who cannot get their kids into Independents in Manchester!! Which is a "GS free" with quite a number of ex-GS HMC schools.

One of these is planning to sneak back to the state sector as an Academy or Specialist, choosing Modern Languages as this is the most academic speciality such schools can have.

If Brady got sacked - and he hardly seems a great star anyway - he would be safe in his seat for a decade. This is win-win for him.

Anonymous said...

Much bigger and rising star after today.Will dave "make his day" and sack him?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3: 37 PM said...
Blair could afford to annoy many of his backbenchers because he had so many. How many more will Cameron have to annoy before there is some kick back.


Will Cameron ever have as many backbenchers as Blair has, hasn't Blair queered his pitch and that of any politician who seeks to have so much power again?

Blair could do as he liked, lie, bully and insult us, illegally invade Iraq, destroy our freedom, rule of law and parliament and destroy his party in order to serve his own interests. That wasn't down to clever strategy, it was all largely thanks to his charismatic powers of deception and the unhealthy/sick - almost Stalinesque or Fascist - cult of personality which surrounded him and boosted his power in the country and in his party.

However, Blair's betrayals leave behind such a pervasive air of suspicion and distrust among us that no politician will ever be able to replicate Blair's charismatic smoke and mirrors con trick on the UK electorate again.

That's surely Blair's great legacy. His betrayals have educated and politicised, we the, previously respectful and gullible, great unwashed have at last begun to recognise that a charismatic basis for governement is a fundamentally corrupt one.

The UK electorate are no longer aquiescent and are altogether more sophisticated. What the volatility of the polls is screaming is that we will not be conned by charisma or corruption again. As Salmond recognised, the mood in this country has dramatically changed, the people are sickened by corruption and are demanding the return of the power that our politicians have stolen from us.

Anonymous said...

"what would happen if the membership were polled now2

They would be truly "headless" chickens?

FRED said...

Just as important is the issue of sharing teachers from independent to State Schools - the great idea from Labour Dep Leader Johnson-- what an insult for state school teachers.

Socrates said...

Can't have one's fag speaking out of turn even if he is telling the truth! Brady clearly deserved a good thrashing to give him a proper respect for his betters!

I would think that Buckinghamshire and Surrey are similar in social makeup. Even the latest doctored school league tables show Bucks' selective results well ahead of Surrey which has all Comprehensives.

The first law of spin is "don't let facts get in the way of an appealing policy".

Cynical Voter said...

At some stage the current Member for Witney will follow his predecessor and cross the floor if his makeover isn't acceptable.....Oswald Mosley make the switch too.

Anonymous said...

The party took leave of its collective senses quite a while ago when it elected David Cameron. It will not regain them until it recognises the utter folly of appointing as Leader a man who has not a single Conservative principle, and who has spent his entire time in office so far attacking those who have.

YHN said...

Cranmer asked:
"Did someone call Gordon Brown 'Stalinist'?"

What's worse Stalinist Brown or the privileged Tsarist Cameron?

Both undemocratic control freaks, just with the latter bathed in privilege.

Anonymous said...

According to the Telegraph Brady is going to be sacked.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/28/ncameron128.xml

Anonymous said...

WOULD take leave of its collective senses? It did that when it installed Commie Ron, the Blair MKII chappie. The Tory Party needs to split and there needs to be a real conservative party for the people who are totally politically disenfranchised to support, becayse otherwise all the cute letters calling for revolution now being printed in the Times and the Telegraph will become part of the blueprint for the future.

Anonymous said...

Good, Iain. Most of us have had it up to here with anonymous briefings against Cameron. Every paper reports he is to be sacked, and it wasn't "anonymous", it was openly done by the press spokeswoman on Cameron's orders.

This guy accepted DC's policy from day 1. Now he wants to make trouble?

We had enough of that 1992-97. I'm sorry he has to go, but he made that decision after he defied the whips a second time and attempted to undermine our leadership - without actually having the courage of his convictions and resigning.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Good, Iain. Most of us have had it up to here with anonymous briefings


Yes anonymous, but which of us is really representing the Conservative Party......you who think Brady should be sacked....or myself who think Cameron should be sacked ?

Anonymous said...

I represent the party far more than you do.

Cameron just had built to last passed. He announced the grammars schools policy during and immediately after the leadership campaign (Willets quotes his during the campaign speech on the ConHome interviews blog). ICM's last poll showed that almost all Tories remain with the party when Cameron's name is brought up, though LibDem & Labour bleed away at mention of Brown/Campbell.

Of COURSE a shadow minister who defies a policy he went along with ever since accepting his job, and tries to fan the flames for a second time, must be sacked.

This is not an "anonymous" briefing evidently, it's been announced to all papers simultaneously. I can't believe anybody would think the guy should stay in post.

More to the point Brady could and should have resigned instead of trying to undermine Cameron with outside his remit briefings to the Times.

Resign and enjoy respect.

Anonymous said...

With Blair it was "draw a line and move on". With Dave it's "it's over". If he thinks "it's over" just because he says so he is in for a hell of a shock.Etonian arrogance at it's very worst.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I represent the party far more than you do.


No you don't. I AM THE PARTY !

Graeme said...

Sack him.

oh dear said...

Another cock up by the Tory Press Office - bring in professionals!

Newmania said...

I think David Cameron`s background and preferred acquaintance are somewhat unhelpful in this context. It is bound to appear that he does not want people to be able to proceed from the ,lower middle class into positions of power which are increasingly dominated by those who attended public school. That number has doubled in the last ten years. The setting that he supposedly approves of will not be accepted by the NUT and teaching profession so we are not hearing much else but platitudes about raising general standards at the moment. The Labour party are, quite rightly in my opinion, pointing out the invidious position of these purveyors of privilege as charities and it might be nice if David Cameron has completed this phoney gesture war by noticing this great problem in our society created by the unfair advantage enjoyed by his own kind as well as those somewhat below him socially . He may appear to be one of those ridiculous toffs who still go on trips ot the East End of London in a re-enactment of 1930s’ noblesse oblige’ but are none to keen on being challenged by those just below them . It all smacks of Paternalism which is in the end a dead philosophy. There are a number of good ideas floating around and David Willets was right in much of what he said , David Cameron however will be seen as uncaring of those in the middle rungs which was the way he explained his Polly Toynbee flirtation. Furthermore he has been inept at addressing he reasonable class divergence within the interest of the core Conservative Party constituency. With Gordon Brown threatening to break the mould of British politics with forms of PR I think David Cameron might be more careful in explaining what he is up to . I wonder if he really understands what is happening actually

Flavious said...

Well he seems to have resigned from the front benches now over the matter.

Good for him, it's about time we saw some politicians with the strength of their convictions for a change!!

I am Spartacus said...

No, I am the Party!

I don't often read the comments here, but Christ, is there a lot of astro-turfing going on in here... Never really noticed until today.

Glad to see our membership subscriptions are going to such worthy causes.