Blair's building brochure blemishes

25th May 2007 at 01:00
Go on. Admit it. You're going to miss Tony Blair just a teensy bit. Perhaps not his foreign policy lapses, but maybe his unceasing optimism about education.

His farewell school tour last week was criticised as a waste of taxpayers'

money: the helicopter hire alone cost more than pound;50,000.

Less attention was given to a special brochure celebrating all the flash-looking schools constructed under the Blair administration.

Unfortunately, no one in Whitehall had been keeping count of them. So when Downing Street requested the brochure, the DfES sent out frantic emails asking local authorities to answer questions on their school building work since 1997.

The vast majority obliged, but at least one town hall official felt the exercise was "a load of crap" and failed to respond. As a result, the figures that form the centrepiece of the brochure were made-up estimates, extrapolated from otherlocal authority stats, some of which were themselves incomplete.

A disclaimer on an accompanying spreadsheet warns readers about this, explaining that the data was submitted over a "relatively short timescale"

and not complete. It adds "DfES has not checked or verified any of this data. It is therefore subject to error."

Could there be a more fitting tribute to our glorious Prime Minister than what can only be described as a dodgy dossier?

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