Home > Terrible Tories > Is John Redwood as stupid as his blog?

Is John Redwood as stupid as his blog?

I know Sunder Katwala has the theory about Rod Liddle that he simply writes very stupid stuff in order to see what they can get away with. 

I think this post by John Redwood, attacking Labour and the sole Green’s parliamentary opposition to the Academies Bill on the basis that socialist dislike the ‘freedom’ that it brings to schools, may fall into the same piss-take bracket.  Redwood must be amused to see his trolls pile in e.g.

Socialists dislike freedom because given a choice many, if not most, choose things other than socialism. So as keepers of the ‘one true faith’ they feel entitled to force socialism on people ‘for their own good’. Ultimately with the 4am knock if necessary……………


But let’s take Redwood at face value, and assume he’s actually being serious.

Is he really trying to claim the coalition is bringing ‘freedom’ to the education  system, without bothering to explain or even mention the fact that this ‘freedom’ is only being accorded to those schools which have ‘outstanding’ Ofsted reports?

Does he really think anyone, other than his half-wit readers, will take this ‘enabling’ legislation as anything other than the development of a two tier system?

Has he never heard, intelligent bloke that he’s supposed to be, of the ‘Polya Urn’ path dependency process, whereby ‘each step along a particular path produces consequences that increase the relative attractive of that path for the next round to become ‘a powerful cycle of self-reinforcing activity’ (Paul Pierson (2004) Politics in Time p17-18).

Does he really not understand that, once the ‘outstanding’ schools head down the academy route because they already have the most resources and most sought after teachers, that more resources will start to flow towards them – more children, the best teachers, the parents able to pay through the nose to live in the catchment area, the parents able to pay their way in – and away from those schools left behind at stage one?

 Does he really grasp none of that?

Does he really think what’s being proposed is ‘freedom’?

Perhaps he is that special kind of intelligent-stupid only right wingers can be.

But I’m here to help berks like Redwood.

In my next post, I’ll tell Redwood my own experience of what freedom in education really is – the freedom to work together in solidarity in the interests of all children. 

Just a little story from my time as Chair of Finance at a primary school, but with more ‘freedom’ in it than Redwood, the narrow-minded tosser that he is, could ever conceive.

Categories: Terrible Tories
  1. Barney Stannard
    July 28, 2010 at 12:29 am

    In an interview a few weeks back Redwood argued that there already was a two tier system: state vs private. He also argued that the state system is already two-tier, precisely because of the problem of wealthy parents moving into the right catchment areas.

    It is interesting that your argument seems to be premised on the idea that foundation schools are better. Otherwise there is no reason for their to be an increase in the inequality of resources. Is your conclusion that all schools should be allowed to take foundation status, or that none should be allowed? Or am I incorrect in ascribing that premise to you?

    As a final point on methodology, which is getting to be my obsession, you ask the question “Is Redwood stupid?” We know the answer to this is no. I believe that the more helpful way of engaging with intelligent people we violently disagree with is to start from the premise that what they said is unlikely to be idiotic. That prompts an analysis of what might be leading them to hold the objectionable position.

  2. paulinlancs
    July 28, 2010 at 11:03 am


    Yes, Redwood is right on the existing catchment area issue, just as he is on public/private. That doesn’t mean it’s right to entrench the inequalities further.

    In fact I’d have have much less of a problem with it all if all schools had the Foundation status option, because (as with all hospital becoming foundations) that doesn’t make such as huge a difference. There are certainlly quality assurance issues around setting all schools as foundation schools which would be of concern (e.g. SEN provision), and some of the post-1992 problems of accountability-but-not-enough-responsbility in schools would be exacerbated.

    More importantly you’d just add in an extra loop of bureaucracy (as will happen in the NHS now) where schools buy back more services from a central body (probably privatised as will happen to NHS mgt services).

    Yet despite all that I would have a huge point in principle against it, in the same way as I didn’t with the 1992 changes (though they were well embedded before I became a school governor and didn’t allow me a comparison with pre-1992), and in the same way that NHS foundation status didn’t really bother me that much.

    The issue here is thay by allowing just the existing well-resourced schools (where schools are outstanding, they will generally be full, and funding is largely determined on a per capita basis), and then allowing them to set their own admission criteria/pay differential rates to teachers etc etc., you set in train a division in schooling which grows ever wider (as the academies take pupils from other schools, the other schools’ per capita funding reduces etc., and this leads to increased demand for academies).

    While private schools are a two-tiering, they are a relatively small problem (? 2-5% of all pupils, I don’t know), but this is a 20%-80% split or so.

    On the methodlogy point, I think we’ll continue to be at odds. This post isn’t aimed at the right really, despite the rhetorical stance. It’s more a ‘rouser’ for the left, and actually the kind of post I told myself, post-election, I’d do much less of because it achieves so little (if anything) other than allowing me to express my frustrations (although I do occasionally hope some of the content will be picked up in other places where it will matter more and be used with the kind of ‘register’ you advocate).

  3. Barney Stannard
    July 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I share your concerns about the divisive effect. But my thoughts are that perhaps there are reasons why it wouldn’t happen. Redwood criticised the divided system we have now and yet supports this – which leads me to think that there might be good reason to think the division will not happen. I think it needs to be looked at carefully.

    On the bureaucracy I don’t think it will be expanded. I don’t know about education, but certainly in health there will be fewer layers of bureaucracy – though that does not necessarily there will be a more efficient bureaucracy.

    On method: well fair enough I suppose. I don’t agree that politics should be a war of hatred. I think that most of the hatred comes from misunderstandings or ignorance. By which I don’t imply that it is always the hater who is ignorant. I think it is quite common for the hated to bring it on themselves by their own ignorance.

    I have a theory that most people have relatively similar basic values: they want to get rid of poverty, stop sickness, improve freedom etc etc. The difference comes when people articulate these values into a political program. In other words, when those values come up against reality, or their own selfish interest.

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