The Plastic Hippo

July 12, 2010

Who killed Bambi?

Filed under: Education,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 1:19 am

How pleasant and delightful to witness the rehabilitation of the word “pipsqueak” back into the English language. Master of the vernacular and West Brom MP, Tom Watson, restored this beautiful word into general usage but was then forced to retract it. With a reluctant apology, and justifying its employment against the hopeless Michael Gove, Watson said:
“It was like looking at Bambi. So I shot him.”

Watson, clearly furious at the BSF cock-up, should be given some credit for uttering this charming, if slightly archaic, epithet instead of some of the more “maritime” appellations heard in the pubs, clubs and staff rooms of landlocked West Bromwich East and greater Sandwell. The anger he displayed in the commons is but a foretaste of what is to come as this coalition government embark on a suicidal voyage of cuts, alienation and betrayal. Gove may have shown contrition for the “mistake”, but the decision still stands and the knockabout fun seen in the commons is a sideshow that has taken attention away from the fact that already derelict schools will be allowed to fall down around the ears of our children.

We will never know how many millions of pounds have already been spent on BSF, but the cost of glossy brochures, expensive consultants, surveys and feasibility studies will not be met by central government. This money has already been spent and came directly from individual school budgets in a process of obligatory cuts or, to use the euphemistic jargon so beloved education bureaucrats, “start-up top-slicing”. So a school having been promised its funding allocation and having made plans to replace the rotten windows, fix the leaking roof or improve access for children with disabilities, witnessed the proposed funding disappear to pay the salaries of those administering the BSF bid. The fatuous argument that salaries have to be high to attract those with high ability has clearly been disproved by the entire BSF shambles. No wonder Watson lost his rag.

Closer to home, Walsall will not be building any schools for the future and our political leaders do not seem particularly upset about this. Mike Bird said that the decision to cancel the programme after so much money had been spent was “disappointing but inevitable.” He was keen to bite the hand that fed him but is now happy to try and kiss the hand that is squeezing his throat. Ominously, any scraps left from BSF seem destined to go to the Academies in Walsall. It is both disappointing and inevitable that this will result in a two-tier system; a poor education or none at all.

When Walsall secondary school buildings now in desperate need of of some tender loving care were built in the 60s, it is probable that none of the pupils had ever heard of Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, comic book characters conjured up just after the First World War. Some may have heard of the Disney film Bambi, produced during the Second World War, but all of them were educated in primary schools that pre-dated both conflicts.

Gove is not Bambi; he is the hunter. Cameron and Clegg are not Pip and Squeak; they are the Chuckle Brothers. Last week it was education, next week it is the NHS. Andrew Lansley, in the guise of Wilfred, the tiny rabbit with infeasibility long ears will go gunning for the parents and grandparents of Bambi.

Th…th…th…th…th…that’s all folks.


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