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Today is Quintin Hogg’s Birthday so I am reblogging his best quotes. Enjoy!

Quintin Hogg

1. “Incidentally, the difference between those who are admittedly first class in their own field, and those who are not, lies very often precisely in this, that the first are able to give coherent accounts, in lucid terms, of what they are trying to do, and what they believe, whilst the others are not.”

2. ” ‘Doing what comes naturally’ can cover almost any kind of moral obliquity and permissiveness. Indeed, since we are all inhabitants of the natural world, there is practically no sort of action, good or bad, which cannot, in some sense be described as natural.”

3. “Civil society is not a voluntary organization in its nature, and all talk of a social contract or compact which can bind its members is specious and pretentious nonsense”

4. “All religion has its myths. Anti-religion has its myths and its mythmakers no less. Two of the great myths of our time owe their origin to Sigmund Freud & Karl Marx… they have, I believe, done more to undermine Christian philosophy than any two men since the Crucifixion.”

5. “I think that the modern world needs loyalty and respect for authority more than anything else”

6. “Law is, of course, in a sense, no more than a gigantic confidence trick. If enough people did not obey the law it would be totally unenforceable.”

7. “The Labour Party never presented to me a package which I would have been happy accepting for myself”

8. “After four months of office this was promotion with a vengeneace. But strangely enough I was not at all pleased. I had given my heart to the Navy, and I believed I was popular”

9. “At the time, like most educational enthusiasts, I was a dogmatic supporter of the raising of the compulsory school leaving age to 16. I am now, at best, an agnostic, at worst an unbeliver”

10. “I do not wish in any way to reduce the credit of Harold Macmillan in achieving this. But I do not think he could have done it without me.”

11. “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 wrong things, or, rather, from their point of view, at the wrong things, powerful allies can be wheeled into support from sources normally neutral, or, occassionally, even unfriendly.”

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 ??

Florence HorsbrughFlorence Gertrude Horsbrugh, Baroness Horsbrugh, GBE, PC

Born: 13 October 1889

Died: 6 December 1969 (aged 80)

Party: Conservative

Dates as Education Minister: 2 Nov 1951 – 18 Oct 1954 (1082 days)

Age when Minister: 62 yrs (0m) to 65 yrs (0m)

Best Fact: The first woman to hold a Cabinet seat in a Conservative government

Born in Edinburgh to an accountant father she was educated at Landsdowne House and St. Hilda’s in Folkestone, before completing a Liberal Arts education at Mills College in California.

Her initial rise to prominence was through her work as head of the Ministry of Munitions canteen during the First World War.  During this time she created a ‘travelling kitchen’ that could feed people after the National Kitchens shut, and she even managed to secure an invite to feed the Queen.

In 1931 she overturned a 14,000 Labour majority to become MP in Dundee and in 1939 gained a junior position as parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Health in 1939. During this time she oversaw the evacuation of children and the beginning of NHS reforms.

After losing her seat in 1945 she stood, and won, a seat in Manchester’s Moss Side in 1950 (can’t work out if this is even more surprising than a Conservative winning Dundee) . Shortly afterwards she became Education Secretary.

Unfortunately Horsbrugh inherited a bad lot. Churchill’s 1951 government put housing as its top priority and the budget for education was slashed right at the moment that the raising of the school leaving age and the 1946 baby boom were felt in force. The lack of money for school buildings meant over-crowding and squalor. In 1954 the TES argued that her policies were vague and she suffered ‘a want of courage’.

She left office in 1954, aged 65. In 1959 she took up residence in the House of Lords.

Is she a contender for ‘greatest’ ever education secretary? Highly unlikely.

Over the weekend I took part in some discussions about Matt Damon’s choice to send his children to private school (shhh…i’ll get to the history in a minute).

Many people were dismayed at Damon because he advocates hard for US state schools (see below)

And there was a feeling that this sort of hypocrisy is typical among politicians:

No doubt many education Secretaries have put their children through private establishments while simultaneously advocating for state schools. But to think that all politicians are inevitably hypocritical is to be overly pessimistic.

Reading Quintin Hogg’s biography last week I was stunned by a story which showed a remarkable lack of hypocrisy. It went like this:

Quintin Hogg

I joined the army by the back door in September 1939, just after war was declared. I do not wish here to say anything of my military career, which was sufficiently undistinguished. But I do make the point in my own favour that, having voted for the war in Parliament, I showed my willingness from the first to expose myself in it in an infantry battalion, and not in an administrative job, and, in the event, I did, in fact, have the honour to lead an infantry platoon in a minor battle and numerous night patrols in the desert in the summer of 1941.

That Hogg traded his comfy Commons position for the infantry is quite a remarkable act of courage and one that restores at least a little faith in politicians. Hogg also returned home from war to find his wife ‘not alone’ but instead ‘in the company of Charles de Gaulle’s ‘Head of Staff’. That story, however, is for another day….

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.

George Tomlinson

Having left school at 12, George Tomlinson nevertheless crept his way to the lofty position of Education Minister. His biography, completed from manuscripts after his untimely death, describes his quirky sense of humour and even-handed wisdom:

On Education

1. In the Daily Express, 1948, defending the raising of the school leaving age: “Why should not a crossing sweeper be thinking of Shakespeare while he is leaning on his brush? He is going to lean on it anyway.”

2. As President of the Association for Education: “The real value of education to me lies in this: that it enables the individual to pierce the crust of things, to get beneath the surface, to see through the exterior to the reality what lies behind and beneath.” 

3. On his motive for being Education Minister “I was glad of the opportunity to carry a step further a vow I had made as a youth deprived of the opportunity of a secondary education through poverty, that no handicap of a similar kind should be allowed to stand in the way of any young person if any action of mine could prevent it.”

4. On The Spectator’s unkind editorial about him: “They say there’s an ignoramus at the Ministry of Education  and they’re quite right, but perhaps it’s only a man who’s never had any education himself who can appreciate it to the full”

5. At the NUT conference in 1947: “At a pinch you might do without Parliament. You could do without the Minister: you could certainly do without Civil Servants and almost as certainly without local education authorities. Without any or all of them the world might not seem much worse. But if there were no teachers the world would be back in barbarism within two generations.”

6. On class sizes: “I realise that it is not economical or common-sense to train a teacher and then put him in charge of such a large class that all he can do is prevent the children from breaking the furniture.”

On Employment & Politics

7. On his being appointed as Minister of Works in 1945: I was put in charge of building materials when there wasn’t any”

8. Pointing out that the unemployed of the Depression were the army of the War: “There never were unemployables. There were neglected members of the community who saved the situation in the country’s greatest need”

9. When officials vetoed his policy on grounds of precedent: “Ah’m not ‘ere to follow precendents. Ah’m ‘ere to make ’em. If it were just a case o’ following precedents you’d have no need of me, you could carry on on your own.”

On death

10. On his death bed the biographer, Fred Blacburn, asked George what was giving him comfort as he lay in bed. Tomlinson answered that he was comforted because he would win either way. When pressed to explain Tomlinson said: “If I get better I shall go to Blackpool and rest with Ethel. If I don’t get better, I shall go to Heaven and rest with my Saviour”

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