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On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: David Cameron

Has the so-called "modernisation" of the Conservative party been a figment of our collective imagination? David Cameron's "heir to Blair" revolution may have been largely cosmetic, but at least it was consistent in its language. For example, most Tory big beasts had got the message that disparaging hard-working public sector employees reinforced the "nasty party" brand.

Recently, however, this seems to have gone out of the window. Last Saturday, when Mr Cameron took the opportunity at the Conservatives' spring forum to have a go at schools, it was rather as if he had woken up that morning channelling Richard Littlejohn.

He limbered up with the now-traditional selective reading of comparative studies. English schools, he said, are outperformed by those in Estonia and Liechtenstein. Then he indulged in some really high-end taxi-driver rhetoric. England's schools, he explained, were in thrall to a "deeply corrosive" ideology that held that "schools should not be allowed to compete with one another".

Mr Cameron then attacked the teaching profession for believing that "competitive sports are a bad thing". It would take more words than we have here to debunk this nonsense, but it is worth pointing out that it was Mr Cameron's government that cut funding to the Youth Sport Trust.

To the naughty step you go, Mr Cameron.

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