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Monday 17 August 2020

Benevolent Bozo’s Badly Bungled U-Turn

Back from holiday came alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, not that he does much in the way of work at any time. He alone could sort out the crisis that has already messed up the futures of so many students from less-privileged backgrounds, and with GCSE results to come, would cause even more disquiet this week.

Let alone, of course, that he could have done as Nicola Sturgeon did after a similar outcry over the results for Scottish Highers. But while Ms Sturgeon took around 24 hours to admit her Government at Holyrood got it wrong, say sorry and back down, Bozo The Clown has taken so long that the damage done by his intransigence cannot be easily undone.

Even the announcement - that the results “standardised” by an algorithm for which, one suspects, no-one will claim credit, but may have been influenced by someone not unadjacent to chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings, will be withdrawn and the teacher-assessed grades initially dismissed by the Government as hopelessly optimistic will be substituted - has been handled in a chaotic and inept manner.

Sian Griffiths of the Murdoch Times was first with hints of a climbdown: “Announcement on #Alevelgrade fiasco expected today. Speculation growing that there will be a U turn and teacher assessed grades could be accepted after all. [Gavin Williamson] [and] [Ofqual] now under huge pressure”. Then came her colleague Rosemary Bennett.

All A level and GCSE pupils in England to get teacher assessed grades - announcement 4pm sources tell [The Times]”. Ms Griffiths agreed. “To be announced at 4 pm. Full U turn - all GCSE and A level pupils expected to get teacher assessed grades in England”. The thought occurs that Rebekah Brooks might have been the one telling Bozo to U-Turn.

Quite apart from that being Labour policy, as shadow education secretary Kate Green was quick to point out, a problem now enters: many of those places the downgraded students were refused have already been offered to other students, as Gaby Hinsliff pointed out: “Suppose you didn’t get grades for 1st choice uni last thurs, panicked & accepted 2nd because accommodation running out. If it’s now back to teacher grades (which would’ve got you into first choice)...what now? Can you swap? This is going to get messy”. Very.

After James Doleman made the obvious point - that Nicola Sturgeon’s swift admission looks better with each passing day, especially as Bozo tried to get away with it, only to be forced to back down - there was only one more question, and that is, as Carole Cadwalladr put it, “Does anyone know who built the algorithm?” Don’t all shout at once.

Because whoever has their paw prints on that part of the fiasco should have some explaining to do, but in a Government where nobody resigns, there won’t be any. But there will be the distinct impression that someone has sanctioned yet another waste of taxpayer funds on a gizmo that caused rather more problems than it solved.

Bozo’s predecessors - Treeza and Young Dave for the Tories, and Pa Broon and Tone for Labour - would not have been so foolish as to get into this mess. Which means one thing.

We have a Prime Minister who is not fit for purpose. But you knew that anyway.

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