Andrew Adonis (I somehow can't bring myself to call himself 'Lord') has opened his big, right-wing gob again. This time, he tells us that the closure of grammar schools in the 1960s and '70s was a backward step that "reinforced class divisions" rather than helping those less well off.
Yeah, right. Unfortunately for Adonis' argument, evidence shows that comprehensive education has benefited all children, and working-class children especially. If current comprehensive schools fall short of what we would like to see, then that is not because they are comprehensive but because they are underfunded, with underpaid and demoralised staff in charge of over-large classes, teaching curricula and administering rules set by pen-pushers and private sponsors.
If I remember rightly, my brother was in the first year of kids not to have to sit the eleven-plus. I was in the second. Fantastic. Not only was my final year of primary school not dominated by fear of the looming, life-determining test, but the following year, 1977, all the kids from my class went up to the same local secondary school - Jack Hunt, the first purpose-built comprehensive school in Peterborough. No longer would an elite go to a grammar school and the rest to a secondary moderm with 'loser' tattooed on their self-esteem if not on their foreheads.
Naturally, the right wing love Adonis and his latest pronouncements. Adonis came out with his rubbish in an interview in the right-wing Spectator magazine (don't think you can read the interview for free at this link - everything past the first paragraph you have to pay for). The Evening Standard leapt on the comments, calling them "a stunning repudiation of the 'one size fits all' education policies which Labour clung to for decades and many MPs still support." The Kent News - newspaper for a county that still has the grammar school system - unsurprisingly takes great comfort from Adonis and his outburst. It reports that Adonis "admitted " that closing grammar schools was a mistake, as though his words were not a personal opinion but a belated acceptance of an undeniable fact.
But there's nothing particularly stunning about it. It seems to me that Adonis - a former LibDem councillor, now a Labour peer - is just a Tory, and this particular interview simply adds to the wealth of evidence of this. The person who put him in the Lords in order to have him close to Government is, of course, Tony Blair - also a Tory. Adonis has one criticism of Blair - that he should have been 'bolder', should have gone further down the road of poisoning our education system with privatisation and selection.
The education unions, parents, students and socialists must rally ot the defence of comprehensive education, taking on the government's agenda industrially, politically and ideologically - and aiming to drive Adonis, Blair and the other Tories out of the leadership of the labour movement.