Thursday, 15 November 2007

Slaying the Vouchers Dragon

It's been a very interesting evening's blogging.

Jo Hayes once again repeated the outlandish and discredited claim on behalf of Chris Huhne that Nick Clegg supports vouchers for education. Dredging up the words of journalists (one of whom has made it very clear that he added the word "vouchers" and not Nick) she claimed that the words of journalists were enough to be evidence that Nick supports vouchers. One of them was from that well-known Lib Dem loving newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

Jeremy Hargreaves had already taken this claim apart here

Unfortunately for Jo and others who have tried to claim that Nick supports vouchers (probably some of the most unpleasant bit of "dog whistle" style politics in this leadership contest so far) when you look at Nick in his own words there is absolutely no voucher in sight.

If you look at the pamphlet that Nick wrote with Richard Grayson back in 2002 again, there is no voucher in sight. In fact, Nick's support for the idea of a "Pupil Premium" which is expounded in the pamphlet pre-dates official party policy on the subject .

Liz Barker has now intervened in annoyance at the Huhneite tactics and put Jo right in the comments to her post.

So, could the Huhneites cut out the "dog whistle" nonsense and get back to a real debate about our leadership contenders real positions based on what they say themselves.


Tristan said...

What I want to know is what's wrong with vouchers?

It enables those other than the rich who can afford private schools or the middle classes who can afford to move to an area with a good school, the chance to choose the school which suits your child.

That's surely liberal. Its offering choice, opening up markets and most importantly enabling individual freedom.

Charles Anglin said...

Hear, hear

mhuntbach said...

People already have the right to choose schools. LEAs provide forms on which you list the schools you want to go to in order of preference, and people are allowed to apply to schools outside their own LEA.

How does a voucher system differ from this? In particular how does it deal with the issue that some schools have many more people wanting to go to them than they have places?

The market way of dealing with this is that you add top-up fees to the voucher, so the way of dealing with too many applicants is that you raise the top-up fees till the number left who are still applying because they can afford the fees and think they're worth it equals the number of places which are available.

Is this what you want, Charles and Tristan? Or do you want the schools to be allowed to select by ability, so the popular schools become in effect grammar schools because they pick the brightest (or most middle class) kids? Because if it isn't, I really can't see what you are on about - it isn't any different from what already happens.