Ed Ball plumbs new depths

Today we were told that we were to receive "The first ever Children’s Plan" Is this a 5 year one left over from the Soviet Union we wondered? Will Marxist songs and invigorating exercise be essential ingredients, as a government backed play strategy is part of it? Apparently it goes alongside the 10 year strategy for young people which we already enjoy.

We discovered that at the core of the plan will be a switch from age testing to stage testing. Unfortunately the printed text from this incompetent Minister had that phrase the wrong way round, saying he would switch from stage to age testing. Although the first time he read it out he got it right, at a subsequent attempt he reverted to the wrong version in the House.

We learned that teaching English to all pupils was central to the task. The printed Statement itself offered:

Sentences without verbs
More sentences starting with "And" and "But"
Split infinitives

A highlight was the conclusion that new primary schools should be co-located with the "police, social care, advice and welfare services…". When I asked him if he really thought a police station on the same site as a primary school would make the school more attractive to parents he looked puzzled as he did not seem to realise co-locating police with children at school could
mean siting the police station at the school.

We are promised extra money to ensure graduates involved with early stage learning, and to offer masters level qualifications to new teachers.

It all sounded like a further attack on the excellent private nurseries run by caring adults with some flair for looking after and enthusing young children.


  1. Thomas Garnet
    December 11, 2007

    Utterly, absolutely, unbelievably fantastic, in the old sense of the word.

    I do not recognise the role or right of any government to involve itself like this in an area which is fundamentally a family responsibility.

    Separation of roles is fundamental to the progress of western society – how can a school include Police & Social Services roles & survive as an academic institution is beyond me.

    Eradicating poverty by – pick a date – how can this ever be achieved when it is based on a relationship to the average? When the average goes up, the poverty target also rises.

    Balls himself should grow up and stop trying to foist this Marxist rubbish on us.

  2. James Burdett
    December 11, 2007

    I must say that the details remind me somewhat of Aldous Huxley. It doesn't surprise me that Ed cannot understand why putting police stations in schools would be problematic, if not actually quite insidious. From the sound of it co-locating all these services will turn schools into enormous branch offices of the People's Commissariat, it makes one shudder!

  3. Steven_L
    December 12, 2007

    I never studied English after GCSE. All through my further/higher education and working life I've seen so many sentences without verbs and/or beginning with 'and/but' that I thought it was my teachers that were wrong on this one.

    I formed the distinct impression that dis-grammatical double-speak construed of quasi-existent words was the way things were done.

  4. Jeremy Wallis
    December 12, 2007

    Excellent website!

    It is a pleasure to read and helps to restore a degree of balance after listening to Radio 4 in the morning.

    Do all Conservative MP's have their own websites?

    Reply: No, not all.

  5. Cc
    December 12, 2007

    What has stunned me is the fact that Labour are announcing a ten year plan after ten years in power. A child starting school in 1997 is soon to be completing GCSEs. What have they been doing up until now?

  6. Les Hearn
    December 12, 2007

    What's wrong with split infinitives? Both Fowler and Partridge give many examples where avoiding them leads to ambiguity or stylistic ugliness. And, while starting a sentence with 'and' is to be avoided, it is allowed for particular effect.
    Of course, New Labour politicians have overused such rhetorical devices as verbless sentences, jargon (e.g. 'co-location'), and crass cliches, often misunderstood and inappropriate. These are a substitute for substance.
    I have no sympathy for your politics but anyone who attacks the meaningless and misleading in public pronouncements is performing a public service.
    By the way, judicious consultation of a spell-checker on your website would not go amiss. Without looking hard, I have noticed 'competitivenss', 'repititon' and 'repitiatious'.

  7. Dr Teck Khong
    December 13, 2007

    Dear John,

    It's the first time I've visited your site, having caught sight of a reference to the English language.

    There are three issues that I find particularly irritating – the misuse of apostrophes, the inappropriate use of words and neologisms.

    How have 'road maps' and 'traffic lights' come into prescription policies for medicines I do not know, and my PCT tells me about their 'journey' in healthcare (?) management as if it is a fun holiday for them!

    Congratulations, for a (dare I use the descriptive!) 'refreshing' web-site!

    Best wishes,


    Reply: Thanks for the feedback. The apostrophes are bad typing, the rest is a matter of style. I write all the material and usually have less than an hour a day to do it, so sometimes the text would be better if I had more time to perfect it. I only write about things I am working on and know something about – or are fun.

  8. Teck Khong
    December 13, 2007

    No, John, the comments were not directed at you or your web-site at all!

    They were part of a general observation of the situation at large!

  9. HJ
    December 14, 2007


    I agree with all your points and about the terrible English grammar of so much "New Labour speak".

    However, there is no rule against split infinitives in English – and no recognised authority on the language argues that there is. That is a Latin rule and English is not a Latin-derived language. It is generally true that most sentences are more elegantly expressed by avoiding split infinitives, but there are also occasions where use of a split infinitive in English is quite appropriate.

    May I comment to you Bill Bryson's excellent and entertaining book "Mother Tongue".

Comments are closed.