Thursday, July 19, 2007

When Gove Leads, Balls Shall Follow

One of the greatest political spectacles of the next few months will be the Despatch Box spats between Ed Balls and Michael Gove. Poor old Ed Balls, it's not really a fair fight is it.

I was interested to read his comments a couple of days ago in the Daily Telegraph where he reckoned children shouldn't be "wrapped in cotton wool" and "allowed to have snowball fights in winter and play conkers in the autumn". He urged schools and parents to take a more balanced approach to risk. Well good for him.

But I reckoned I had heard all about this before. Indeed, I wrote about it HERE at the beginning of June, as did Alice Thomson. But we weren't the first to pontificate ont he subject. Indeed no. In 2005 a certain Michael Gove made a film for Channel 5 called Bubblewrap Britain. The BFI blurb says...
Conservative MP Michael Gove gives a personal view and examination of an increasing risk-avoidance culture in Britain, which is stifling activities and becoming absurd. Looks at how conkers have been deemed dangerous and children banned from playing them, how some hospitals ban home-made food, and how "Health and Safety" issues and fear of litigation have led to teachers restricting sports and playground games and not doing school trips. Also looks at the effect of compensation culture and at how taking away all elements of risk or pushing at boundaries is actually bad for children.

Good to see Ed Balls taking his lead from The Gover. I wonder what will be next - a neocon book from Ed Balls called Fahrenheit 8/8?

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

boris buried him in the telegraph. he will be mayor without doubt

eric the fish said...

My mum said back in the 1970s that children shouldn't be wrapped in cotton wool. I don't think either Gove or Balls were being (or even attempting to be) very original in their views.

But the English have a awfully 'jobsworth' attitude to rules and a terrible fear of being found out for doing the wrong thing. Hence the tendency to find seventy-five reasons for not doing things rather than the obvious one for doing them.

So, despite the fact that courts rarely find against teachers except in the cases of the most wilful neglect, there is a terribly cautious attitude in some schools. Pumped up of course by the media and some politicians who love to make a drama out of an isolated non-event.

CCTV said...

Conkers is alive and well but i understand Guides cannot permit skipping

Chris Paul said...

Gove leads? Are you seriously saying that Gove invented the idea of kids having more freedom? Mine are pushing 14 and 11 respectively and Family Paul has been running this line for nearly 14 years now. As did our mothers and grandmothers before us.

Are we now going to be subjected to a link to a speech from a year or two back for every Labour announcement or opinion - even if that announcement or opinion has been doing the rounds for years or decades.

This would be a bit like the Lib Dems saying all the policies of the Tories and Labour are nicked from them! They've spouted so many that they've said most things at some time or other.

They're crap. You don't have to be. You are a short listed top political commentator so act like one!

Anonymous said...

Nah, Chris Paul, Iain's just found aan artful way of saying that Gove is an effing prick. Geddit?

Anonymous said...

C Paul, get a life

Chris Paul said...

Get a life yourself you anonymous cowardly preening award winning (not) prat.

James C said...

Iain, any chance of a post reporting whats going on 'on the ground' in Ealing? Whats your prediction?

jailhouselawyer said...

james c: I think that the Tories have said too much already about Ealing hence the police investigation...

Newmania said...

Chris Paul I appreciate that you are under the impression that you are cruelly misunderstood genius but in fact you have a supernatural ability to pick on the tangential and ignore the point . The point is that the labour Party have presided over the much loathed explosion of micro management and for Balls to suddenly decide he doesn`t like it is a bit like protesting against Hospital closures your policies force ...oh . . Ok it’s a bit like MacDonalds protesting against junk food .
I suppose we have all been astonished at the spectacle of New Brown apparently side stepping his responsibility for the misrule of the last ten years but for brazen cheek Balls is out ahead of the pack at the moment
Nursery school teachers are not allowed to apply plasters, calpol is treated as toxic waste forget sun cream and don`t even think about applying discipline ( See Lovely Boris today`s DT ..GO BORIS ). Grown men after a days work ( which Chris Paul will only have read about ) are denied the pleasure of a fag and a pint by the auspices of finger wagging nanny and Media Studies Bimbo Caroline Flint . Talks Balls is currently navigating further restrictions on Nursery Teachers that will in effect mean that you have to have a degree to look after children. Typically any degree will do astro physics ?...Come on in . ! So its irrelevance and nuisance is multiplied .

Only some one as swivel eyed as C Paul could possibly take him seriously but I suspect he is less foolish than he looks. Brown is well aware of the extent to which the country detests his bossy governing style and Balls is applying the Big Lie technique . No matter how preposterous he is , honest people will assume there is something other than an entirely cynical attempt to mislead . They are wrong , the spin continues worse if anything than before the creation of endless restrictions is unabated .
I look forward to Gordon Brown complaining about the dishonesty of stealth taxation next why not? He has, after all, suddenly realised he values Great Britain after the Labour Party`s enthusiasm for devolution and perpetual distaste for nationalism. You`d think that the reasons for this ( Scottish seats ) was so obvious he wouldn`t dare but there seems to be no depth to which these moral Limbo dancers will not bend .

How Low will you go ?
How low will you go ?

It s quite exciting to see what comes next. Milliband protesting about the intrusion of the EU justified by bogus environmental humbug.?

Anonymous said...

Honey, I shrunk the kids...

Conrad Black said...

Not a fair fight, you mean the guy who's been central to economic policy over the last ten years of uninterrupted growth, or the rent-a-pundit Times columnist during ten years of plummeting loss of readers.

No, that is a bit unfair.

RacerDon said...

Personally think all this new u-turning on everything they've stood for and encouraged over the past 10 years is splendid. (even better if for once they did something to rectify the mess)

Next I'd like to see Mrs Balls campaigning against the woeful HIP legislation and Mr Broon criticising high taxes.

Cath said...

Iain you talk so much sense but I must say I don't agree with you about Michael Gove at all. He strikes me as being too much like too many of our MPs. Well educated, fine in an intellectual debate with some lefty like Toynbee but really lacking any understanding of the real world. Which is why he was and is so pro the Iraq war which anyone with half a brain could have seen was a horrific mistake. I'm afraid I can see shades of Willets and Letwin about him. We seem to have a talent for choosing people who look and sound like they've never earned less than £100K. That may sound like a very non-Tory thing to say but I honestly think it does matter to a lot of people and Brown has the opportunity to really hurt us on the "real life" thing. I'm not suggesting we A-list a load of Vicky Pollards but I just feel that guys like Gove send an unfortunate message.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

boris buried him in the telegraph. he will be mayor without doubt

July 19, 2007 11:09 AM

You are kidding. Just Read Boris' article and sounded as though it was written by serial foamer Jeremy Clarkson.

Governments do not rap kids in cotton wool.. their parents do.

Boris' article was entitled "From elf and safety .." Is he taking the p*ss out of working class London accents.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I want Michael Gove for London Mayor. Have you seen his wife? She's a cracker.

Jimbo said...

We’ve been seeing and hearing a lot from Gove recently. If he is the Tories great white hope, then god help you. Just another upper class, plum voiced , privately educated, from the shires, nice family, well heeled , writes drivel for The Times blar blar blar…any more tea vicar. Please !!!!. Gove looks like a 30 something Norman Fowler, and acts and speaks like just another Norman Fowler.

Anonymous said...

Checked Johnson article on the Telegraph site. When some one writes an article using the terms "per se", you know that they are a tosspot. For godsake, Kids today dont want to play conkers or climb tree. going on about conkers and tree climbing just shows how retro and fantasy land old Bozzer really is...eerrr crikey gosh

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Jimbo... was the word "anachronism" coined just for you?

When will you get over the "public school" thing. You are stuck in the past with no hope of being reconstructed.

Gove has as much right to be who he is as anybody. Are you really sure you want to discriminate against somebody for circumstances beyond his control? Are you a fascist?

Graeme said...

Jimbo ... Michael Gove is Scottish.

Newmania spot on.... you're right to point out how malicious (as opposed to purely obfuscatory) the government spin machine is. I woke up this morning to hear a Toady programme reporter telling me, in all sincerity, that we're to be subjected to a government campaign to make us feel safer, because - somewhat unfairly in the reporter's view - the real and significant reduction in crime ("real" and "significant reduction" here are used in exactly the doublethink form predicted by Orwell) is marred by the citizen's fixation on such 'low level' crimes as violence against the person. I wish I were making that up.

Welcome to the Clunky Fister's Britain, where it will soon be a crime to complain about crime, but nursery teachers -- all with university degrees -- will happily fill in a risk assessment form about the any cuts and bruises your child sustains during his/her increasingly rare bouts of unsupervised play (just don't ask Professor Nursery Teacher to apply a sticking plaster -- illegal, of course).

Newmania said...

Anon , Boris is aware that conkering may not be the universally preferred pastime of the young . His image of “outdoorsyness “ is framed in self aware irony . Catherine Bennet in the Guardian used “pooh sticks “with the same whimsical short hand intention .
English is a subtle and nuanced language and I sometimes feel the left must sound like Daleks when they disgorge their montonal factoids at each other. Naturally there will be misunderstandings between man and machine.

Another anon , parents are concerned for their offspring of course but the examples of officious meddling are endless . Not exclusively from the left true, but predominantly. No government has ever created laws the rate of the present one , and as Boris mentioned new restrictions on Nurseries are even now being hatched in their infernal pit of bossiness.
As far as Elf`n safety is concerned it has nothing much to do with a London accent . It has to do with Skoolzanozpitalz and kidz. The implication is that the left do not question the benefit of more and more and more and more tax payers money being used as a merry bonfire provided they say one of these magical blessings.
I must admit this is not primarily happening at government level ,although it is and Balls is responsible .Labour Councils are far worse and the encroaching blame culture is more part of the broad left constituency. I have a collection of favourites at home . I like the Torquay Councillor who likened the perils of palm trees to that of a wild Tiger or the three thousand people in Devon who turned up to watch a video of a Bonfire.
Labour love rules , they hate risk and for them there is no end to the argument for personal safety. They are all teachers and to them we are all children.
Incidentally Jeremy Clarkson is not a Conservative which is all he has admitted about his inclinations. I `m not surprised he thinks he is PJ O`Rourke but he us actually Esther Rantzen ,for fat old men. Labour I`d guess.

(Iain must we put up with these nasty new labour anons , can`t there be a youth club or something so they have something to do other than hang around virtual street corners being a nuisance ?.)

Chris Paul said...

Newmania: You have entertained us long enough. What a load of old blether. If I have missed "the point" of Iain's nonsense it is because it is not really there. A pointless and silly post from a man who can do far better than this. I will continue to urge Iain onwards and upwards to greater things if you wish to continue lowering the tone with clueless camp casuistry and riffing alter egos then don't let me stop you.

Chris Paul said...

Gove is from the shires as well as being Scottish, and a foundling, and a public school boy, and a long lost twin of the appalling Katie apprentice.

He has the same posh Edinburgh twang as Charlie Falconer and Ronnie Corbett. there must be something in the water round there to produce such brilliance.

Daniel said...

Whilst agreeing with all that newmania wrote above, I feel I must chip in with my own little gripe towards Anon: those of us who grew up in the country in the last decade or so still spent the whole of our summer engaged in pursuits like conkers, tree-climbing or building dens in the haybales; that hasn't changed to this day. It really bugs me when urban types presume that children today must be permanently glued to their games consoles or televisions, or going to premiership football matches or whatever, to stand any chance of 'enjoying' their childhood. Why do you want children to be so sophisticated, Anon? They need a childhood; if a child is so spoilt that he looks down his nose at climbing a chestnut tree because it didn't cost his dad a tenner to arrange... well, I despair.

judith said...

My 6yr old grandson likes playing conkers and climbing trees - I doubt he is alone.

Bureaucratic jobsworths have just adored the elf'n'safety culture and have fostered it for years now, since well before Labour came to power. It has been allowed to grow through the greed and ignorance of the public - your kid does something stupid because s/he IS stupid? Well, it can't be his fault, it requires compensation and lots of it, and blame, so that the parents can forget they've brought up an idiot.

Newmania said...

“. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit.''

...Pride and Prejudice CP . A Great Conservative writer Austen and had you not misquoted painfully I might have revised my exceedingly low opinion of you and.

Anonymous said...

"Poor old Ed Balls, it's not really a fair fight is it."

Agreed, Ed should be ashamed of himself taking on that intellectually-deprived geek on a 'level playing-field'. Should we not insist he does it with one hand tied behind his back?

PS that's a question-mark Iain.

Anonymous said...

"Boris buried him in the Telegraph"

Cheapo Tory Funeral's 'R'Us?

Huw Clayton said...

Just as long as Ed Balls, who on previous form (the sale of our gold reserves) would be unable to find his own name standing naked in front of a bodymap, is taking a lead from SOMEONE who knows more than him about the subject that he's talking about, be that Gove, teachers or indeed children aged 2yrs 6 mnths, I'm much happier. I very much doubt if any of your pro-Balls posters see the man through clear eyes; he comes across as a pompous, arrogant egomaniac who has never lived in the real world and who cares nothing for voters as long as he gets his name in the press often enough.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

I loath the health and safety mania with all my heart and soul. But I do understand how it came about.

The fact is, 30 years ago some industries, (notably the mining and building industries) did have an appalling safety record. And some of the equipment I was allowed to play on as a child, unsupervised, was frankly lethal.

Such a pity that it's all got out of hand.

I heard Gove and Milliband discussing this issue on PM earlier this week. It was quite a civilsed and sensible discussion.

Private Eye says Milliband and his brother each have 1,000 legs but I think that's just their little joke.

james said...

Gove is not going to win the Tories any votes, unless he defects.

All those who disagree are in need of urgent medical attention.

Philipa said...

I've gone right off Michael Gove.
I wouldn't vote for him.