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While the biased coverage of the BBC comes in for frequent and well deserved criticism I always think the news reader who is most brazen in disregarding his obligation to be impartial is Jon Snow of Channel 4 News. I once attended an event where he described Glenys Kinnock as the "embodiment" of what he believed.

In Prospect magazine Snow has an article (£) supposedly advocating localism. He would end the "Council Tax cap" and is concerned that councillors are "poorly paid."

He says his Council Tax is "essentially centrally ordained." Not true. If Labour-run Camden Council wanted to follow Hammersmith and Fulham with significant Council Tax cuts they could. If Camden wanted to bring in a sharp rise in Council Tax they could – although this would require the endorsement by a referendum – they might be confident that Snow would vote for it but a bit more worried about winning over his neighbours.

With respect to schools, Snow pretends to be arguing for localism while advocating the centralisation of power in the Town Hall, rather than the true localism of individual school autonomy.


He says:

The school where I was a governor, and where my children were taught, has been largely purged of either local regulation or funding – the ministry is God.

He would like to be "sharing power and engagement with the people I live amongst." Presumably this means whether they send their children to that school or not? Why should a school be subject to the "democratic control" of those who send their children to other schools?

If Brecknock Primary School, where he was governor, becomes an academy then Snow would fret that it would be entirely "purged" of the local council. But rather than it meaning the school was run by the Department of Education it would mean that the school had more freedom to run its own affairs. As it would if a rival free school was set up.

Under the Coalition Government the red tape for schools (maintained schools as well as academies) has been reduced. For instance, the School Admissions Code has been streamlined. Would Snow like the red tape cut more so that, for instance, schools could have class sizes above 30? Or select by ability when it comes to admissions? I suspect not. He wants less localism for schools, not more. Decisions taken from teachers to be made by bureaucrats. Power taken from the head master's office and transferred to the Director of Children's Services at a Council office often miles away in a different town.

 

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