FErret

14th September 2012 at 01:00

He who controls the past controls the future

Welcome, then, to Matthew Hancock, our new minister for FE. What wasn't obvious at first is that he's a minister from FE as well. FErret's colleagues posted on Twitter after the announcement: "How much does Hancock know about FE though? Educated at The King's School, Chester, PPE at Oxford, MA at Cambridge. Then Bank of England."

That information came from the biography on his own website. But by the next morning, it had been clumsily amended in a different font to mention "West Cheshire College of Further Education", as it is never known. Later, the font was fixed and the college given its more usual designation of "West Cheshire College".

It's a bit of an Orwellian approach. We are at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eurasia. We are proud of our connection to FE, we have always been proud of our connection to FE.

Mr Hancock appears to be adept at polishing his CV. For instance, he claims that he took part in the most northerly game of cricket ever recorded. In fact, he took part in a failed expedition to the north pole and contracted frostbite. He and a friend hit a cricket ball around with skis as a consolation.

But touting his links to FE is unnecessary, since it's clear from the book that Mr Hancock co-authored - Masters of Nothing, about the financial crisis - that he implicitly understands our world. Take this passage: "Trying to run complex systems with complex rules leads in an infinite loop of complication to the point where no one understands either the system or the rules, including those who have devised them."

Yes, he'll find FE familiar enough.

The departure of John Hayes was perhaps even more reminiscent of a totalitarian state, as supporters queued up to pay tribute as if it was the funeral of a politburo member. The executive director of the 157 Group, Lynne Sedgmore, went furthest in describing him as a "philosopher, poetic, passionate". FErret, however, has uncovered evidence that some of his famously quotation-rich speeches were written by a summer intern. Has he even read any Yeats?

And there was at least one dissenter - the former deputy chief executive of the Institute for Learning, Lee Davies, who summed up the departure thus: "So now poor energy and engineering professionals will have to put up with John Hayes patronising them with Chaucer and Aristophanes."

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