We’ve all heard of Miliband-wagons, and allegations that he is Labour’s political donkey, but Ed has now added Trojan Horse to his list of dubious accolades. Today’s Prime Minister’s Questions came amidst real concerns that Islamists were indoctrinating some of the poorest and most vulnerable British children.
One would have assumed that in the middle of this the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition might be offering genuine solutions, but we know Trojan Ed better than that.
The dictionary the definition of a Trojan Horse is: “a person or thing intended to undermine or secretly overthrow an enemy or opponent.” They try to fool their intended victims into believing they are harmless, even trying to help. When they strike they strike from within.
Trojan Ed started PMQs by attempting to lure his audience into believing he cared about the way girls were segregated at Birmingham Schools and asked what parents could do to complain when problems arise.
Unlike the gatekeepers of Troy, the Prime Minister was unconvinced and immediately responded: “While I hope we can forge real unity across the House of Commons on combatting Islamist extremism in our schools, I hope this isn’t used as an agenda to try to knock down successful school formats, whether academies created under the last government or free schools created under this government.”
Trojan Ed was rumbled and came back demanding “one system of accountability for all schools to safeguard the education of our children”. It was clear that Trojan Ed had a plan to create a new bureaucratic body, no doubt dominated by the teaching unions. They do say that the Trojan horse was a ‘strike’ weapon.
The Prime Minister then pre-empted Trojan Ed by pointing out “some people in this house believe the only model of accountability is local government accountability, it is worth making the point that Birmingham City Council failed in their duty to these parents.”
Trojan Ed’s helpful suggestion was to accept that 20,000 schools could not be run by the Department of Education “a proper system of local oversight, separate from councils, responsible for standards at all schools, to prevent what happened in Birmingham happening elsewhere.”
BOOM. Now we all know what Trojan Ed really wants is what the PM then referred to as “a new local bureaucracy”.
Unlike the Trojan Horse of antiquity the Trojan Ed of Westminster had not even made it past the city gates, he was rumbled early. He had filled his wooden horse with education bureaucrats and left-wing teaching Unions. Telling them they could overrun the education system if only they could sneak in unnoticed, but they failed.
Backbench contributions were particularly loyal this week. With Graham Evans (Con, Weaver Vale) mentioning the two million private sector jobs created by the government. Chris Skidmore (Con, Kingswood) talked about job fairs and falling unemployment. But Jason McCartney (Con, Colne Valley) hit the jackpot by getting jobs fairs, two million extra jobs and apprenticeships in. Good Job!
Mike Freer (Con, Finchley and Golders Green) talked about supporting the makers of Speedo, leading Pamela Nash (Lab, Airdrie and Shotts) to question whether the PM intended to model them. Thankfully for all the PM confirmed the company make shorts as well as the revealing swimwear popular in continental Europe.
Speaker Bercow returned to his annoying ways with several humourless interventions, including a frankly odd name check of a popular local curry house. At the end he received his comeuppance when he forgot that the new MP for Newark needed to be sworn in. No one would normally care about a minor error but as it was Bercow the house poured scorn.
Overall: The Trojan Horse strategy was considered cutting edge a few thousand years ago, but perhaps it’s time to move on. The Greeks horse made it all the way into Troy and made history. Labour’s horse was shot in the paddock, wonder who the party’s Achilles’ heel is?