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Quintin HoggTwice-Education Secretary Quintin Hogg died in 2001, however his words on ‘twitter’ are remarkably apt to today’s political context.

In his 1975 autobiography he wrote the following about his time as leader of the Conservative election strategy:

“Some of the makers of opinion are beyond reach, because they are on the other side. But before an election even these can be pressed into service. They can be made to take notice, to twitter with rage and scream in derision and, if they can be made to twitter and scream at the right things, or, rather from their point of view, at the wrong things, powerful allies can be wheeled into support from sources normally neutral, or, occasionally, even unfriendly

Two things are remarkable about this quote. One: if you put a capital letter on the word ‘twitter’ it would make absolute sense in the context of today’s social media use. And, two: this tool has been an absolute mainstay of Gove’s time in office. He has been unbelievably canny in using soundbites to start a twitter storm of opponents shouting out against things they would otherwise normally be more sensible about, or pushing them to be more extreme in their reactions and hence framing themselves as unreasonable.

It’s a good trick, but it’s an old one. And it’s one worth bearing in mind as we head further into party conference season.

Speculation is rife about a September Cabinet re-shuffle. If Gove leaves education, where might he go next?

Using the scientific medium of Wikipedia, it seems 12 of the 31 Ed Secs never transitioned to other roles (though many continued as MPs or Peers).

Since the early 90s, Home Secretary became a popular move. Not only have three Ed Secs in the past 25 years moved straight into this role, Alan Johnson also made it there after Health and Ed Balls took position as Shadow Home Secretary before becoming Shadow Chancellor (though admittedly that was only for 3 months).

Women seem to have done particularly poorly in moves, with only Ruth Kelly keeping a Ministerial position while still in power. However Margaret Thatcher did move from being Ed Sec to being Leader of the Conservative Party, which turned out to be a very important move indeed!

Subsequent roles taken by Ed Secs…..

1 Rab Butler Chancellor of the Exchequer
2 Richard Law
3 Ellen Wilkinson
4 George Tomlinson  
5 Florence Horsbrugh
6 Geoffrey Lloyd
7 David Eccles (1st time) President of the Board of Trade(2nd time) Paymaster General & Minister for the Arts
8 Edward Boyle
9 Quintin Hogg Lord President of the Council
10 Michael Stewart Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
11 Anthony Crosland Secretary of State for Local Government & Regional Planning
12 Patrick Gordon Walker
13 Edward Short Leader of the House of Commons/Lord President of the Council
14 Margaret Thatcher Leader of the Conservative Party
15 Reg Prentice Minister of State for Overseas Development
16 Fred Mulley Secretary of State for Defence
17 Shirley Williams
18 Mark Carlisle
19 Keith Joseph
20 Kenneth Baker Chairman of the Conservative Party
21 John MacGregor Leader of the House of Commons/Lord President of the Council
22 Kenneth Clarke Home Secretary
23 John Patten
24 Gillian Shephard Shadow Secretary of State for Education
25 David Blunkett Home Secretary
26 Estelle Morris
27 Charles Clarke Home Secretary
28 Ruth Kelly Minister for Women
29 Alan Johnson Secretary of State for Health
30 Edward Balls Shadow Secretary of State for Education
31 Michael Gove ??

After the recent post “Where did the Education Secretaries go to school?” several people asked whether it really mattered. One answer that came up several times was that it might be relevant if a Minister never used the service in their care.

But if an Ed Sec who doesn’t use service will inevitably do a less good job, then it matters whether or not the Ed Sec has children themselves. I therefore decided to work out which Ed Secs had children and which did not.

It was easier to find out this information for dead Ed Secs than live ones. Obituaries always have a section telling you about people’s partners and children. However, I managed to find information for all but two. I couldn’t find definite information on Geoffrey Lloyd or John MacGregor. Also, while I could find out that Richard Law had at least one child, I don’t know if he only had one.

There’s also the issue of stepchildren. Anthony Crosland, Gillian Shephard and Shirley Williams each have two stepchildren by marriage. For the purposes of this chart I haven’t included them because I wasn’t able to distinguish how much contact they had with the children.

As it stands the average number of children among Ed Secs is 1.79. If stepchildren are added it is 2.

The most common number is actually 0. Although this is largely down to the high number of childless secretaries pre-1965. Since 1967 there have only been two childless education secretaries, and none at all between 1967 and 1994.

0 Ellen Wilkinson 1945
George Tomlinson 1947
Florence Horsbrugh 1951
Edward Boyle 1962
Michael Stewart 1964
Anthony Crosland 1965
Gillian Shephard 1994
Estelle Morris 2001
1 Richard Law 1945
Reg Prentice 1974
Shirley Williams 1976
Mark Carlisle 1979
Kenneth Baker 1986
John Patten 1992
2 Edward Short 1968
Margaret Thatcher 1970
Fred Mulley 1975
Kenneth Clarke 1990
Charles Clarke 2002
Michael Gove 2010
3 Rab Butler 1944
David Eccles 1954
David Blunkett 1997
Edward Balls 2007
4 Keith Joseph 1981
Ruth Kelly 2004
Alan Johnson 2006
5 Quintin Hogg 1957
Patrick Gordon Walker 1967

What is perhaps most surprising is that there appears to be no pattern for women. Though several women had no children of their own, Ruth Kelly had four, Margaret Thatcher two, and Shirley Williams had one of her own plus two stepchildren.

93% of Education Secretaries attended private or grammar schools. Only two did not.

1 Rab Butler Marlborough
2 Richard Law Shrewsbury School
3 Ellen Wilkinson Ardwick school
4 George Tomlinson Rishton Wesleyan School
5 Florence Horsbrugh Lansdown House
6 Geoffrey Lloyd Harrow School
7 David Eccles Winchester
8 Edward Boyle Eton
9 Quintin Hogg Eton
10 Michael Stewart Christ’s Hospital
11 Anthony Crosland Highgate School
12 Patrick Gordon Walker Wellington
13 Edward Short College of the Venerable Bede
14 Margaret Thatcher Kevesten & Grantham Girls’ School
15 Reg Prentice Whitgift School
16 Fred Mulley Warwick School
17 Shirley Williams St Paul’s Girl School
18 Mark Carlisle Abingdon School
19 Keith Joseph Harrow School
20 Kenneth Baker Hampton Grammar
21 John MacGregor Merchiston Castle School
22 Kenneth Clarke Nottingham High School
23 John Patten Wimbledon College
24 Gillian Shephard North Walsham Girls School
25 David Blunkett Royal National College for the Blind
26 Estelle Morris Whalley Range Grammar
27 Charles Clarke Highgate School
28 Ruth Kelly Sutton High School
29 Alan Johnson Sloane Grammar School
30 Edward Balls Nottingham High School
31 Michael Gove Robert Gordon’s College

The first was brought to my attention by @oldandrewuk who pointed out that David Blunkett bucked the trend. Denied the opportunity to sit the test for grammar school, Blunkett was sent to the residential Royal National College for the Blind. Once there his teacher insisted blind children did not need qualifications and instead taught him to type.

The second escaped my radar because he barely went to school at all. Only when reading his biography did I learn that George Tomlinson became a cotton mill ‘half-timer’ when he was aged 12. By 13, he worked there full-time.

Does it matter?

One can argue that the place where a Minister is schooled doesn’t really matter. Yet when George Tomlinson took up post The Spectator did not see it that way. Their editorial said:

“To put the Ministry of Education, concerned as it is with the whole range of secondary schools, grammar, modern and technical, as well as the primary schools, in the hands of a man who left a primary school at the age of 12 and has had no other formal education at all – that, it must be said again, is a surprising proceeding which raises disturbing questions as to what the conception of education in the present Government’s view is.”

Funny how a similar furore was never kicked up about the very many Ministers from independent schools who had not experienced a single one of these school types.

How many Education Secretaries can you recognise?

Skillful illustrator Malcolm Laverty has contributed a full set of Ed Secretary images to the site. Not only do they brighten up the site, but they also use styles that capture either the time period or tone set by each Minister. Have a look: how many can you name?. (Hovering the cursor over an image reveals the answer….)

Creative Commons License
Education Secretaries by Malcolm Laverty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Rab Butler’s childhood stories of living in India involve elephant rides, camping under hot skies, and the fact that no English person ever remained there once they hit sixty.

Butler recounts one particular incident that notably impacted his future opinions:

One day when out riding round Jakko, I ordered my sais to let go of the reins. Galloping around a corner, I was thrown and hopelessly broke my right arm. The sais did not catch up and the first to pass was a Sikh who ‘passed by on the other side’ and left me. All my life, especially when I was Under-Secretary for India, I was quite unjustly cautious of Sikhs.

Butler’s arm was so badly broken he later suffered with Volkmann’s Contractions, leaving him with a permanently weakened handshake and a lifetime of therapy. However, his pain was not his family’s main concern:

My father’s sorrow was terrible. He was brought up in the public school tradition and felt that my whole future as an athlete would be prejudiced. Indeed this proved to be so.

Butler’s family therefore turned their attention to schooling:

I fancied myself an Eton scholarship, and so did my mother, but my schoolmaster was very discouraging. However I went up and sat the papers. At the end of the second day a man in a gown read the names of those who were requested to stay and continue. Mine was not included. I went and spoke to him asking if there had been a mistake; he said there had not. My mother, who met me on the bridge in the High Street, hid her disappointment and cheerfully insisted that we must buy a camera immediately. So I took a picture of her on the bridge, but this did not come out either, due to faulty exposure.

If Butler had been told on that day of his many future achievements one wonders if he would have believed it.

Acknowledgements page from Rab Butler’s “Art of The Possible” Biography.

Not one of the most exciting in the acknowledgement series, but big question:  Who are the Shephard family, and why do they own so many cartoons?

I am indebted to those whom I had given the bulk of my political papers, and the copyright therein, for making these papers available to me and to Peter Goldman, and for dealing with the business aspects of the publication of this book.

We are indebted to Lucia Santa Cruz for assisting with historical aspects, especially in the chapter on the Munich period,  and to Robin Allen for research work, particularly in connection with the reform of the Conservative Party after the defeat of 1945, also to Michael Fraser for political advice. I make grateful acknowledgements to the many others who have kindly read individual chapters and commented upon them. My secretary, Julia Fish, has provided much help with the preparation of the sheets for publication, and to her too I offer my gratitude.

For permission to reproduce cartoons to David Low, Vicky, Giles, and Ernest Shephard I am obliged to the David Low Trustees, the Evening Standard, the Daily ExpressPunch and Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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