Lib Dems’ Moore praises Gove apology as schools building programme axe triggers coalition tensions

by Stephen Tall on July 9, 2010

The blunder in the education department which led to the publication of a list of axed school building schemes containing 25 errors continues to rumble on. Conservative education secretary Michael Gove has apologised and taken the rap for his officials’ mistakes.

The Lib Dems’ Michael Moore was sympathetic to Mr Gove’s plight on the BBC’s Question Time last night, commending the quick and full apology:

I think he did that with grace. I think he did it appropriately and he’s determined that that doesn’t happen again. Nobody would wish that had happened. It was a major mistake, it has been acknowledged as such. The apology has been given, it will continue to be given to the appropriate people and I think it’s a sign of the man that he’s willing to do that.”

The coalition government’s announcment of the decision to axe the Building Schools for the Future programme – which will see some 715 schools’ rebuilding projects cancelled – has provoked strong responses.

Warren Bradley, the Lib Dem leader on Liverpool city council, has launched a strong attack on the decision, and the party’s role in it:

Being in coalition should be a two-way street. There are times when Clegg has got to say to Cameron, ‘no more’. I think BSF is the straw that has broken the camel’s back.”

Writing on his blog Liberal England, though, Jonathan Calder applauds the decision, noting the current Private Eye’s critique of the astronomical £700m pa cost of the programme which

… will mean that thousands of schools will forgo crucial maintenance while the few to have benefited from BSF “enjoy their shiny overpriced facilities”.

In a sane world decisions about new schools would be taken by city and county councils. That it is now a matter for central government is a symptom of the vast overcentralisation of Britain.

BSF also serves as a symbol for Gordon Brown’s love of overcomplicated and apparently ingenious (but actually rather stupid) methods of financing public works.

What do Voice readers think of the axing of the scheme, and the mis-handling of its announcement?