Irwin Stelzer admires the Schools Secretary, and so regrets that his admissions policy prevents schools from taking account of a pupil’s prospects of success. Bad news all round
Seemingly alone among my acquaintances, I see virtues in Ed Balls. He certainly is not media-friendly, partly because he has the Brownian habit of trying to bury questioners under a barrage of verbiage, only some small portion of which is relevant to their questions. He does have the annoying habit of believing that facts can be the enemy of truth, and therefore need, er, adjustment before they can be made available to the less skilled at their interpretation.
Still, it is impossible not to admire his quick intelligence, his ability to translate complicated economic ideas into policy. Colleagues who claim he is too clever by half are very often too dim by more than half. He has a coherent view of a wide range of public policy issues. He understands that markets can do some things better than governments, but understands too that where producers are in a position to exploit consumers, it is essential that government correct the imbalance. True, he sometimes thinks he knows better than these consumers what is best for them, but, hey, who in Westminster doesn’t share that view? After all, the leader of the opposition claims to know how to produce ‘well-being’ for millions of people he has never met, and in whose circles he is unlikely ever to travel.
All of this by way of establishing my credentials as a fair critic of the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, one who bears no Straw-like grudge when analysing the faulty logic underlying Mr Balls’s programme for making ‘sure that excellence and opportunity [sic] is open to all’.