Diary

3rd November 1995 at 00:00
To Bosnia. The Bosnia of Labour's front bench, as it has been affectionately termed in the party's Walworth Road headquarters, where a massively disgruntled Michael Meacher is digging in for a long scrap. Mr Meacher, the left-wing former public-school boy, lost his transport brief after the recent shadow cabinet elections. He was instead fobbed off with an artificial, not to say strange-looking, "Employment" post. Strange because David Blunkett is confusingly responsible for "Education and Employment" and will certainly wish to speak on both.

Mr Meacher's hand is not the strongest. Once described as Tony Benn's representative on Earth, he belongs to a fast fading breed, the genteel left-winger. Moreover his new education colleagues may bear historical grudges. Higher education spokesman Bryan Davies, for example, whose Oldham Central seat is abolished at the next election, was worsted by Mr Meacher in the selection fight for the re-constituted seat of Oldham West and Royton just next door.

This is the second time the new Employment spokesman has fought off an internal challenge for Oldham West. When it was re-drawn in 1983 he beat a candidate called Charles Morris, the outgoing Openshaw MP. Who is, of course, the father of Estelle Morris, rising star of Labour's education team.

Still no luck for Eric Forth in his search for a safe Conservative seat. Rejected by Mid-Worcester, he now finds that the selection panel in Maidenhead has no use for a Minister of State at the DFEE. Nor, by the way, for Sir Paul Beresford, formerly leader of Wandsworth Council.

Elizabeth Cotterill, political adviser to Gillian Shephard, fared a little better, before falling at the last in the race for Altrincham and Sale.

Glad to say, however, that the right-wing former education minister Michael Fallon is still in the hunt, and has made it to the semi-finals of Kensington and Chelsea along with top motorist Nicholas Scott.

Great excitement for Andrew Turner, another Tory hopeful and director of the Grant Maintained Schools Foundation - the publicly-funded outfit which provides informationpublicity to would-be opt out schools.

Mr Turner has been lucky in love and is now engaged to Carol Dennett of Clifton Reed Consultants - a firm which sells computer systems to people including, as it happens, GM heads. Mr Turner has been less lucky in his search for a safe Conservative seat, although news of his imminent state of grace may give him the edge he needs.

When are the nuptials? "It will have to be after the local government elections," he romantically replied.

When you've been chief executive of Brent for six years you get used to living from day to day," Michael Bichard told the Employment Select Committee. Mr Bichard has just seen off his rival, the whistle-blowing Sir Tim Lankester (of Pergau fame), in the fight to be sole permanent secretary in the merged DFEE.

Tough going perhaps. But the wilds of local government have their own horrors.

It was during his time as chief executive of Brent Council in London, for example, that Jasmine Beckford died a violent death at the hands of her stepfather. The subsequent report was heavily critical of the borough's social services and led to the child protection legislation in the Children Act.

He then moved to take up the top job in rural Gloucestershire, where all now wait for the inevitable inquiry into whether the police and the social services could have done more to prevent the many deaths at the centre of the West trial.

The comfy old DFEE looks quite a good bet.

The Department for Education and Employment has got a new logo: DfEE with the "D" in a little maroon square and the f in italics. This piece of champion design was a snip at Pounds 15,000 which, according to the department, covered the cost of something called development as well as the emblem itself, drawn up by the Central Office of Information. This year's DFEE's publicity budget is Pounds 5.53 million.

Warwick University is cruising the academic highways, eager to lure top names to its new Institute of Education.

Among the latest soccer-style signings are Geoff Lindsay, vice-president of the British Psychological Society, transferred from Sheffield Council to a new professorial post on the windswept campus.

He is joined by Professor Robin Alexander, best known for the Leeds and "Three wise men" reports on primary teaching. Chris Husbands of the Historical Association will leave the University of East Anglia for a readership. A professor and a reader are still wanted, but tight-lipped supremo Professor John Tomlinson is keeping mum.

Top of Education Secretary Gillian Shephard's Xmas shopping list must be The Book of Virtues: a treasury of great moral stories. This is a terrifying tome edited by William J Bennett, a former Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration, which carries an endorsement from Gillian.

"I trust this book will provide (children) with a fund of enriching tales, " writes Mrs Shephard.

She is surely also thinking of her Cabinet colleagues. Among the entries - divided into chapters with headings such as Compassion, Self-Discipline and Honesty - are the following gems: "Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise" (George Washington); "Train for ill and not for good" (AE Housman); "The man who misses all the funIs he who says, 'It can't be done'" (Anon). One they have taken to heart.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?

Subscribe

To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers

Comments

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
 
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today