Graham Brady MP has written another article on grammar schools – this time for Britain’s best-selling newspaper – the former perch of Andy Coulson, the News of the World. Here are two key sections from Mr Brady’s article:
"Last week I was told if I wanted to keep my job I had better shut up about education. But I decided it was more important to tell the truth about something I passionately believe in. The Chief Whip was instructed by David Cameron to bring me into line. He was blunt, to put it mildly. This was followed by heavy-handed briefings against me in the next morning’s paper from the leader’s office."
"This is not just an internal Tory row. By undermining grammar schools, Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts has set off a row with millions of ordinary working families. People are frustrated by a political establishment that talks about choice but won’t let them choose a grammar school. Now, in the face of gathering dissent over Mr Cameron’s original plan to build no more grammars, Central Office has changed its stance again. The message now is that, because selection works, areas with grammar schools already can have MORE—but if you haven’t got one then tough! This shows how badly thought-out the policy was in the first place."
Greg Clark MP is the latest frontbencher to wade into the row. The Kent MP adopts the Dominic Grieve line by saying that he supports more grammar schools if his county of Kent, which retained the grammar school system, needs them for demographic reasons. Greg has contacted me to say that he agreed the statement used by The Sunday Telegraph with David Willetts ten days ago. It was first issued to his local newspaper: "In Kent, where we have grammar schools, I think we should keep the system we have. That means if the need arises for new schools in Kent, say because of population growth, I would certainly argue that new grammar schools should continue to be part of a mix of new schools, as they are part of the mix of existing schools."
David Cameron will be jetting back from his holiday in Crete today. It will be interesting to see if he can find a strategy to soothe a row that is about to enter its third week. He will be reassured by today’s ICM survey, however, which suggests a 37% to 32% Tory lead.