Thursday, November 23, 2006

Alan Milburn and education vouchers

Education vouchers. Some crackpoint idea devised by Milton Friedman, which the Tory right sniffed around years ago before giving up on as a bad job? No. The latest policy proposal for New Labour from Alan Milburn.

I have been racking my brains to think of other discredited or just plain dumb Thatcherite ideas the Blairite outrider could resurrect and present as fresh and courageous thinking.

But short of the poll tax, New Labour has already adopted most of them – from ID cards to the NHS internal market - and then some.

The reason education vouchers are a non-starter is simple. For every London Oratory School, there are many of the establishments Alastair Campbell famously derided as Bog Standard Comprehensives.

And even with a voucher, few parents would be able to afford £10,000-a-year private schools of the kind favoured by Diane Abbott.

The real alternative is not bogus parental choice, but to make every school a good school.

If you really want to think the unthinkable, Alan, what about bringing about that goal, paying for it with progressive taxation? Radical or what?

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