Gove's "hero" Andrew Adonis attacks decision not to reappoint Ofsted head

The founder of the academies programme says Labour peer Sally Morgan "should be reappointed as chair of Ofsted, to preserve its independence and integrity."

In a speech in October 2012 to the think-tank Politeia, Michael Gove named two "heroes". The first was Teddy Roosevelt (more recently claimed as an inspiration by Ed Miliband), the second was Andrew Adonis. Gove hailed Tony Blair's former schools minister and the architect of the academies programme as "a man who has always been on the side of the future". He added:

"He created, protected, drove and grew the Academies programme. He did so in (and occasionally despite) a Labour government. He built alliances across parties – most notably in building on reforms introduced by another great moderniser – Kenneth Baker. And he has never stopped challenging all of us in Government to get on with it. 

"Because Andrew understands that one of the greatest enemies of innovation and progress is time."

For this reason, as well as his ministerial experience, it is notable that Adonis has joined those attacking Gove's decision not to reappoint Labour peer Sally Morgan as the chair of Ofsted. 

He tweeted today:

Adonis, who is now shadow infrastructure minister and is leading a growth review for Labour, also declared today that Gove's description of the state system is a "caricature". 

Gove has long sought to present his reforms as a continuation of those pursued by New Labour, an approach that has made it harder for the opposition to successfully challenge him. He said at his speech this morning that academies were "based on the work of [Kenneth] Baker, implemented by Blair and Adonis, and expanded by Cameron and Clegg". 

But Gove's careless partisanship means he is now in danger of losing any claim he has to Labour's mantle. 

Former Labour schools minister and the founder of the academies programme Andrew Adonis. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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Autumn Statement 2015: whatever you hear, don't forget - there is an alternative

The goverment's programme of cuts is a choice, not a certainty, says Jolyon Maugham.

Later today you will hear George Osborne say there is no alternative to his plan to slash a further £20bn from lean public services by 2020-21. He will also say that there is no alternative to £9bn cuts to tax credits, cuts that will hit the poorest hardest, cuts of thousands of pounds per annum to the incomes of millions of households.

But there is.

As I outlined here the Conservatives plan future tax cuts which benefit, disproportionately or exclusively, the wealthy. Suspending those future tax cuts for the wealthy would say, by 2020-21, £9.3bn per annum.

I also explained here that a mere 50 of our 1,156 tax reliefs cost us over £100bn per annum. We don't know how much the other 1,106 reliefs cost us - because Government doesn't monitor them. And we don't know what public benefit they deliver - because Government doesn't check.

What we do know, as I explained here, is that they disproportionately and regressively benefit the wealthy: an average of £190,400 per annum for the wealthiest.

And we know, too, that they include (amongst the more than 1,000 uncosted reliefs) the £1bn plus “Rights for Shares Scheme” - badged by the Chancellor as for workers but identified by a leading law firm as designed for the wealthiest.

Simply by asking a question that the Chancellor chooses to ignore - do these 1,156 reliefs deliver value for money - it is entirely possible that £10bn or more extra in taxes could be collected without any loss of  public benefit

To this £19bn, we might add the indiscriminate provision - both direct and indirect - of public money to wealthy pensioners.

Those above basic state pension age enjoy a tax subsidy of up to 12% on earned income.

Moreover, this Office for National Statistics data (see Table 18) reveals that the 10% of wealthiest retired households - some 714,000 households - have gross pre-tax and pre-benefit private income of on average £43,983. Yet still they enjoy average cash benefits from government of £11,500 per annum.

Means testing benefits to exclude that top 10 per cent of retired households would save £8.2bn per annum. And why, you might wonder aloud, should means testing be thought by the government appropriate for the working age population, yet a heresy for retired households?

Add in abolition of that unprincipled tax subsidy and you'll save even more. 

So there are alternatives. Clear alternatives. Good alternatives. Alternatives that enable those with the broadest shoulders to bear some share of the pain. Don't allow yourself to be persuaded otherwise.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.