Last week, after Suzanne Moore had passed severely adverse comment on the effect that Education Secretary Michael “Oiky” Gove is having on the education system in England and Wales, the loathsome Toby Young responded with what looked to be a comprehensive demolition of her assertions. Thus emboldened, Tobes challenged Ms Moore to respond to his grandly titled “critique”.
He's gone all quiet today
After all, Young had been handed the tacit endorsement of Tory MP Jesse Norman, who called his post at Telegraph blogs “scintillating”, and the forthright support of Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips, who lauded it as a “Rightly ferocious piece ... about catastrophe in schools and eye-watering hypocrisy by lefty defenders” (Note that Ms Moore has now ceased to be a mere parent).
Behold the next generation of cerebral Tories
Well, now there has been a response to Tobes and his “critique” from Henry Stewart at Local Schools Network (LSN), which will most likely have Young and his fellow right-leaning rant and froth merchants ranting and frothing rather more. This is because LSN was co-founded by Fiona Millar, partner of Alastair Campbell, which means that by definition it is A Very Bad Thing Indeed.
Rapidly approaching the end of the District Line
Nonetheless, Stewart has given citations for all his rebuttals of Tobes’ assertions in his response, “Sorry Toby But The Data Backs Suzanne”. He kicks off by noting Young’s reliance on the PISA rankings to support the contention that school performance declined under Labour (one of Gove’s favourites, which by sheer coincidence, is echoed by much of the right-wing media).
It does not appear to bother Toby Young (or his hero “Oiky”) that the 2000 PISA data for the UK was flawed, and that Gove’s department has been criticised for misleading use of it. And Stewart’s rebuttal is also – as I type – not taxing the proud founder of the West London Free School, despite it taking his attack on Suzanne Moore apart point by point, and with superior citations to support it.
Anyone might get the impression that Tobes, and his pals such as Damian Thompson of the Tel, and of course James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, are only interested in publicising content that supports their point of view (Thompson has confirmed to me this morning that he is a “big fan of Gove and his reforms”), and that they’re happy to ignore anything else.
Because Henry Stewart has countered Young on not only the PISA rankings, but also the “Free School” concept in Sweden and the USA, the Ebacc, comparative improvements in state and Academy schools, school meal numbers, “Emotional intelligence”, Oxbridge admissions from the state sector, and rote learning. So perhaps Tobes and his pals will now break cover and engage with him.
Somehow, though, I suspect they will not. High principles, meet hypocrisy.