Andy McSmith's Diary: Nicky Morgan needs a lesson in English grammar

The Education Secretary had difficulty matching the verb with the subject when announcing her Commons statement

“Nothing better demonstrates this One Nation Government’s commitment to social justice than our plans to transform the education our children receive.” With that stirring thought, the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, began her statement to the Commons alliteratively titled “Education Excellence Everywhere”. 

In the next paragraph she declared: “The excellence our reforms has unlocked in some parts of our schools system has not yet spread across the whole country.”

A shame that education has not unlocked in Ms Morgan sufficient excellence to enable her to match the verb with the subject.

Coke joke

“I am delighted that the Chancellor has finally realised the dangers of Coke,” the shadow Leader of the House, Chris Bryant, told MPs. The official Hansard record says this was met with “laughter”.

Value added trivia

The Tory MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown threw some interesting factoids into the ongoing Budget debate in the Commons, about the vagaries of VAT. “We zero-rate flapjacks but not cereal bars,” he pointed out. “We zero-rate paper books but not ebooks. It was considered a productive use of somebody’s energy to write into the Government’s VAT guidelines that VAT must be applied to gingerbread men covered in chocolate at the standard rate unless ‘this amounts to no more than a couple of dots for eyes’.”

But Mr Clifton-Brown appeared to have a surprising gap in his knowledge about why VAT is so high. He pointed out that it began as an 8 per cent tax, adding that “today we find it at 20 per cent”, and implied in a meandering way that this increase was either Labour’s fault or the EU’s. If he cared to check, he would find that Margaret Thatcher’s government almost doubled VAT, to 15 per cent; John Major’s government shoved it up to 17.5 per cent to pay for the poll tax fiasco; and five years ago, George Osborne raised it to 20 per cent. The Tories do love making us pay VAT.

No new tricks for old Mogg

George Osborne’s enthusiasm for creating elected mayors in English counties and southern cities is not shared by the Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg – at least so far as it might concern his home county, Somerset. 

The notion of a mayor of West England, with a remit covering Bristol, Somerset and South Gloucestershire, would be “dreadful”, he told BBC Bristol. The mayor would inevitably be interested only in Bristol, and in finding places to build homes for Bristol people on “Somerset’s green fields”, he said. 

It’s fair to say that the Mogg is not keen on change. The only change he supports is Brexit, and even that is nostalgia for the world as it was 50 years ago.

Jones the Tweet

Late in February, a new user joined Twitter. Calling himself “Brexit in June”, he tweeted more than 14 times a day on why Britain should leave the EU. He attacked David Cameron, saying: “The PM should understand that the British people recognise guff when they see it. And this is guff.”

When the Daily Post put to the former Welsh Secretary David Jones, whom Cameron sacked from the Cabinet in 2014, that he was the anonymous tweeter, the reply was along the lines of “So what?” He insisted that he had tweeted nothing that he would not write under his own name. 

Brexit in June now identifies itself as “the Brexit account of David Jones MP”.

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