June 18th, 2011

breaking bad

The Heat Death of Universal Education

Ah, it's easy to mock. Michael Gove complains that the young people don't learn nothin' at school. Not like in his day. Why, nowadays young people don't even learn Newton's Laws of Thermodynamics!

But luckily once all the schools are 'free' - i.e. answering entirely to his every whim - he can ruddy well order them to teach those Newtonian laws. And while he's at it, how about teaching them how gravity was invented when Rudolf Clausius was hit on the head by an apple?

(ETA To be fair, I guess 'cooling' is one aspect of thermodynamics.)
breaking bad

Return of the 1926 show

Wow. I am astonished that the British Government has backed down on pensions reform when faced with the prospect of a General Strike.

On Friday the Lib Dem Danny Alexander announced that public sector staff would now pay more for their pensions and retire later in life. This got a lot of publicity.
(After) Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, warned of strike action comparable to the general strike of 1926, the Treasury said that Alexander's speech contained merely suggestions, not policy. "We are continuing to discuss these issues with the unions."

There are several possibilities. Perhaps inexperienced Alexander screwed up massively, and announced 'suggestions' as policy. Or perhaps he was set up, told to make the announcement, with a plan to hang him out to dry if the reception was hostile. Like throwing a bit of straw in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. Who cares what happens to the straw?

Or - most shocking of all - perhaps Alexander was not set up or mistaken, and the Government have literally altered their economic strategy within 24 hours when faced with Union power. If so, everything is now up for grabs, and it's the most startling recent U-Turn of all. Wish it was this, but doubt it.

Final possibility - and the explanation I favour - the government are playing for time, on this and the NHS reforms. They don't really have an overall plan, and they are hoping 'something good' happens to save them. Soon. That's a PR tactic rather than a strategy.

(ETA Here's the original report of Dave Prentis threatening the biggest strike for 100 years.)