Michael Gove's new aide: professor who wanted the North written off
Academic was dubbed 'barmy boffin' for urging the abandonment of regeneration programmes
Having enraged the teaching profession over free schools and his refusal to step into the GCSE row, the Education Secretary Michael Gove looks set to alienate another vast swathe of potential voters yesterday after appointing a new adviser who has previously suggested abandoning large parts of northern England.
Dr Tim Leunig, who will now assist Mr Gove in his reforms of the education system, was co-author of a controversial 2008 report which appeared to suggest giving up on regeneration attempts in Liverpool, Bradford, Sunderland and Hull and abandoning the cities to permanent economic decline – and instead focusing on investment programmes in economically booming areas of the south of England.
His appointment has infuriated local MPs in those cities he branded "failing".
The then Leader of the Opposition David Cameron criticised the ideas at the time. He said of the London School of Economics lecturer: "I gather he's off to Australia. The sooner he gets on the ship the better."
But yesterday the Department for Education confirmed that Dr Leunig, an expert in urban life in Britain since the Victorian age, had been appointed to the paid post advising both Mr Gove and the newly appointed Liberal Democrat minister David Laws, who has returned to government after resigning over an expenses scandal in 2010. A department spokeswoman said Dr Leunig would work alongside another new adviser, the journalist Alice Miles.
Dr Leunig, who has been chief economist at the Liberal Democrat-leaning think thank Centre Forum, was criticised in Liverpool as a "barmy boffin" for suggesting that Government give up on its efforts to "buck the market" by lavishing taxpayers' money on regenerating areas like Merseyside which have been experiencing population decline.
Stephen Twigg, the West Derby MP and Labour's education spokesman said: "This appointment will scare people in Liverpool. We know this man's opinions and the track record of this Government since May 2010. Now it's going to have an adviser that doesn't think Liverpool, or other northern cities, have a future."
Maria Eagle, the Garston and Halewood MP, said of Mr Gove: "Now we can see what he really thinks about Liverpool, if he is taking advice from someone who thinks we should all leave." There was equal consternation in Bradford where educational underachievement is a major concern. The Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: "It does not bode well for areas like ours when someone who made such outrageous comments is advising government.
"Michael Gove had been to Bradford and met with us and I thought he understood what we were saying about the needs we have. This news is deeply concerning."
The Conservative MP for Keighley Kris Hopkins said: "I recall rubbishing these particularly silly comments when they were made. My views have not changed."
Dr Leunig said he was unable to comment on his new role under the civil service code.
The report Cities Unlimited – by the right-wing Policy Exchange think tank – called for all three million planned new homes to be built in three cities – London, Oxford and Cambridge – mirroring the way Victorian development followed success rather than seeking to promote ailing conurbations. Dr Luenig recently criticised the Prime Minister's proposal to end housing benefit for the under-25s, describing it as a gimmick.
Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Russia unveils plans for high speed railway and superhighway to connect Europe and America
Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...
£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...
£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...
£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...