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The policy wonk whose heart isn't in it

Monday Ugh, political research this week. Working up a discussion paper for the think-tank, Pedagogo. Ideally, this would involve a week of intensive harvesting and subsequent analysis of party attitudes towards education. Or, I could spend half an hour Googling then maybe go down the pub. God, is that the time?

Labour The Government's position is one of sulky entitlement. Summary: "Mr Blair mentioned education three times in that famous speech of his and he's STILL waiting for a thank you." Labour has shown its commitment to educational excellence by talking about it all the time. And look at the size of the national curriculum - you could bludgeon a parent governor to DEATH with it! Yet widespread dissatisfaction among teachers persists, to the irritation of everyone at the Department. Mr Balls has explained how the Government has commissioned - at considerable cost to the taxpayer - new school buildings from the private sector. Interactive whiteboards, staff discounts on stab vests, the list is endless. He's also warned that if the Tories get in teachers will have "that weirdo supply minister Mr Gove" ordering them about.

Conservative A mixed message from the Tories. On one hand, they will liberate teachers from the tyranny of targets, a morbidly obese national curriculum and time-wasting paperwork. On the other, the shadow education spokesman looks like a prefect who's just discovered a bunch of Year 9 kids in the plant room, playing poker and smoking weed. The Gove is cross. And he's going to channel that crossness into results: by mobilising those cross parents keen to set up their own totally non-selective, high-quality, VERY CROSS state schools. There'll be more cross country running and other humourless school sports. Cultural exchanges will be specifically cross. There'll be support for faith schools, especially those called Holy Cross. Summary: "If you want crosser education policy, you know where to put your cross on polling day."

Lib Dem Like their leader Nick Clegg (pictured) the Lib Dems are charismatic and relaxed, as they won't be leading a government. They can afford to be saucy. They would utterly transform the way we think about everything by spending an extra #163;2.5 billion on it. The national curriculum, for instance, will be replaced by a "Carta Blanca", allowing schools to make up their own Lib Dem policies. Likewise, vicious scumbags who ruin everyone else's education and ought to be gassed will be replaced by struggling pupils who will receive the help they need. There would be a new general diploma, continental breakfasts and an annual #163;500 per teacher for them to spend on something nice at the CPD shop.

Lunchtime But what about nutty independents, the angry religious, the racists, the Don't Knows? I stroll to the pub for some field research.

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