General Election 2015: Nick Clegg demands £10bn extra for education as the price of coalition
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 16 June 2014
Nick Clegg would demand a £10bn-a-year boost to education spending in talks with Labour or the Conservatives if next year’s general election ends in another hung parliament.
The first spending pledge to be included in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, announced today, would extend the protective ring-fence which currently applies to schools spending on 5-16 year-olds to the entire education budget. This would raise spending on early years education by £3bn a year, and the budget for 16-19 year-olds by £7.1bn annually. These figures would rise with inflation each year.
The Deputy Prime Minister said his party would protect spending on children “from cradle to college”. He said he would spell out how the pledge would be funded closer to the election.
But his promise met with a sceptical reaction. Martin Freedman, director of economic strategy and negotiations at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “We look forward to further recantations in education policy from the Lib Dems and we suggest that they may want to consider rethinking the trebling of university tuition fees as a priority.”
David Blunkett, the former Education Secretary, accused Mr Clegg of copying proposals he has made to Labour. “How the Lib Dems can proclaim a policy of ring-fencing education funding when they’ve agreed to reduce by £200m the education services grant to academies across the country, and a freeze in cash terms for two-thirds of England’s schools next year, goodness only knows.”
Mr Clegg would not be drawn on whether he would "die in the ditch" to secure the funding boost in any future coalition talks. He made clear he would demand another full-scale coalition, with Lib Dems taking ministerial posts, and rebuff any move by Labour or the Tories for a looser “confidence and supply” deal in which the Lib Dems would support the biggest party in key Commons votes but not serve as ministers.
The Lib Dem leader dismissed another attack on him by Dominic Cummings, a former special adviser to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who said Mr Clegg was a “goner” who could not recover his authority and who produced “mad” ideas and gimmicks.
Mr Cummings said schools should stop being “cottage industries” and join together to emulate supermarket chains to push up standards. He suggested that under a future Conservative government, schools would increasingly be run in “chains”, possibly by the private sector, that would control standards and be responsible to the Department for Education. He told The Times: “Supermarkets aren’t good because everyone in them is a genius, they work because they get very high performance out of mediocre people.”
Mr Cummings’ remarks raised the prospect that a future Conservative manifesto might include a pledge to allow private companies to take over a chain of schools and run them for a profit. Mr Gove wanted to include the idea in the 2010 Coalition agreement but was blocked by the Lib Dems.
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Isis could become 'world’s first truly terrorist state' and bomb UK with nuclear and chemical weapons, Theresa May warns
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...
NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...