Lord adonis

Socially segregated Oxbridge colleges are a dreadful idea

The Guardian has published a piece by Andrew Adonis urging Oxford and Cambridge to set up ‘access colleges’ which would only admit applicants from comprehensives. I’ve long been a fan of Adonis. He did more to drive up standards in state schools as a Labour education minister than most Conservatives do as education secretaries. Unlike his partisan colleagues, he has also been wholly supportive of the free schools programme and gave me some much needed words of encouragement when I was trying to set one up. So I was disappointed to see him resurrect this old idea. The last time it was run up the flagpole, five years ago, I

Lead Remainer suggests Cambridge vice-chancellor ‘should go back to Canada’

Since leaving government, Lord Adonis has busied himself as a chief cheerleader for the campaign to stop Brexit. The Remain champion is on a mission to overturn the EU referendum result – criticising Brexit figures such as Nigel Farage for  kickstarting a ‘deeply xenophobic and misogynistic’ movement. However, this doesn’t mean Adonis thinks everyone should be welcomed to the UK with open arms. Speaking at Cambridge University, the Labour grandee hit out at Cambridge vice-chancellor Stephen Toope over his £365,000 salary. In an interview with Varsity, the former transport secretary suggests Toope came to the UK ‘because somehow he was going to be paid more than for a Canadian university’. He goes

Portrait of the week | 4 January 2018

Home In a message for the New Year, as though it were an immemorial custom, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said: ‘Most people just want the government to get on and deliver a good Brexit, and that’s exactly what we are doing.’ It seemed a long time since, just before Christmas, Damian Green had resigned as the First Secretary of State, in a letter beginning, ‘I regret that I’ve been asked to resign’ and going on to ‘accept that I should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers in 2008 about the pornography on the computers [in his parliamentary office], and that the

Lord Adonis: Nigel Farage is now Prime Minister

Oh dear. Lord Adonis brought Theresa May’s Christmas holiday to an abrupt end yesterday with the news that he is resigning as the government’s infrastructure tsar, citing the Prime Minister’s Brexit direction and the government bail-out the Stagecoach/Virgin East Coast rail franchise. Not one to go quietly, Adonis penned a rather eccentric resignation letter – or several depending which account you believe – claiming Brexit is causing a nervous breakdown across Whitehall that resembles Suez. Government sources are keen to play down Adonis’s departure as a case of walking before he was pushed – saying that this is a man who wants to stop Brexit. While Mr S will leave readers

Lord Adonis’s resignation letter – full text

Andrew Adonis, the former Labour Transport Secretary and newly non-affiliated peer, has quit as the government’s infrastructure tsar, slamming the Prime Minister’s Brexit direction in the process. Here’s the full text: Dear Prime Minister, The hardest thing in politics is to bring about lasting change for the better, and I believe in co-operation across parties to achieve it. In this spirit I was glad to accept reappointment last year as Chair of the independent National Infrastructure Commission, when you also reaffirmed your support for HS2, which will help overcome England’s north-south divide when it opens in just eight years time. I would like to thank you for your courtesy in

Power shortages in Britain’s energy network are shameful

Last Wednesday, following what National Grid casually referred to as ‘multiple plant breakdowns’ of a number of power stations – desperate attempts had to be made to find back-up power supplies to keep the lights on throughout the evening. It was a clear demonstration of the dangers of the UK’s outmoded power network and successive failures of policy. And before anyone starts bleating about the government’s slashing of wind and solar subsidies, the wind wasn’t blowing and the sun wasn’t shining, so they were unable to help out at a time of crisis. As a result, there was little spare power to cover the gap. This meant that at one

Major coup for Osborne as Lord Adonis resigns Labour whip to chair infrastructure commission

A key theme of this Tory conference will be the party running its tanks all over Labour’s lawn while the party indulges in splendid in-fighting. And George Osborne’s speech tomorrow will contain another big tank rumbling over another part of the party’s lawn. He has persuaded Lord Adonis to resign the party whip in order to become a cross bench peer and chair an independent National Infrastructure Commission. Adonis has issued this statement: ‘Without big improvements to its transport and energy systems, Britain will grind to a halt. I am pleased to accept the Chancellor’s invitation to establish the National Infrastructure Commission as an independent body able to advise Government

Lord Adonis ‘stranded in Philippines’: send cash immediately

This morning’s mailbox gave Mr S cause for alarm. A message popped up from Lord Adonis explaining that he had been mugged on holiday in the Philippines and was ‘freaked out’. While Tony Blair’s former adviser had managed to keep possession of his passport, he apparently needed cash fast: Just as Mr S was about to dig deep, he noticed something in the email that was uncharacteristic of the Labour politician – the real Lord Adonis would never use a capital P for ‘point in time’. Happily, Lord Adonis assures Steerpike that none of his friends have fallen for the scammer’s email. However, that doesn’t mean the scammer isn’t expecting a lump sum to land in his

Minister demands apology from Miliband after stats blunder

The Tories are very keen to sabotage Ed Miliband’s big speech about rebalancing the British economy, which is probably a compliment to the Labour leader as it suggests that they think he might be onto something. Both parties are certainly engaged in a localism arms race at the moment, arguing that they’re the party that really trusts voters and wants to give them back the power over their own lives. But Miliband appears to have made a bit of a statistical error which is allowing his opponents to create a bit of a sideshow to distract from the launch of Lord Adonis’ final report on growth. In his speech, the

Isabel Hardman

Labour’s localism arms race

How can politicians encourage this country’s economy to grow more evenly? Do you build a nice big railway line? Or try – and largely fail – to devolve greater power to cities using directly-elected city mayors? Today Labour sets out its answer in Lord Adonis’ growth review. Ed Miliband has already said that he will accept the central recommendation, which is to allow city and country regions to create combined authorities (like the Greater Manchester combined authority) which will gain control over all, rather than half, the revenue from business rates. George Osborne was making similar noises recently about greater powers for regional groups headed by elected mayors. There is,

Will Ebbsfleet lead to a deluge of new garden cities?

One of the announcements in tomorrow’s Budget that George Osborne has been very keen to trail is his support for a garden city at Ebbsfleet. It’s not a new location, and the project has got many eagle economic eyes fixed on it; I wrote about the ambitions that Labour’s Lord Adonis holds for the area back in February. But one crucial difference between the Adonis plan and the Osborne plan is that the Chancellor doesn’t see Ebbsfleet as a way of making the case for more garden cities in the future. This New Town or garden city or whatever you fancy calling it is remarkable because it has the support

Where would Ed Miliband’s first New Town go?

Ed Miliband has been singing the praises of New Towns in tonight’s Standard, saying a Labour government would use these developments to help solve London’s housing crisis. He writes: ‘A key plank will be creating new towns in sustainable locations where people want to live, just like earlier generations did in places such as Stevenage and Milton Keynes. Labour will kick-start the next generation of new towns and garden cities around the capital to ease the pressure on London.’ Although he doesn’t say it, it’s a reasonably safe bet that the Labour leader is thinking of Ebbsfleet when he talks about a sustainable location where people want to live. That’s

Andrew Adonis interview: HS2, free schools and running for Mayor of London

Newcastle upon Tyne Andrew Adonis is not your conventional ‘retired’ politician. The sprightly 50-year-old shadow infrastructure minister remains more influential than his current job title suggests. After running Tony Blair’s policy unit at No. 10, Adonis kick-started the academies programme and paved the way for Michael Gove’s education revolution. Under Gordon Brown he rose to Secretary of State for Transport, where he renationalised the East Coast railway and conceived High Speed 2. Adonis took a central role in Labour’s failed coalition negotiations with the Lib Dems (a party he was once a candidate for) before quitting frontline politics. Today, Adonis is more instrumental to Labour than ever, leading Ed Miliband’s

Is Lord Adonis the right man to lead Labour’s Growth Review?

One of the things we know about Labour’s policies is that the Adonis Growth Review is meant to produce a fair few of them. Launched by Ed Miliband last month, the former head of Tony Blair’s Policy Unit’s review is meant to publicly report in spring 2014. When Miliband announced this review, he praised Adonis’s work in reforming public services in the last government. But this positive view of Adonis’ work does not seem to be shared by all the shadow cabinet. In his Guardian interview on Saturday, Andy Burnham said ‘I wasn’t cheerleading for academies.’ Academies were, of course, an Adonis initiative. One other consequence of Adonis heading this

Skills are the problem. But does anyone have a solution?

For years, words ‘skills’ and ‘crisis’ have been joined in British political discourse. It’s a problem that no one seems able to crack and on May 2nd, The Spectator is holding a conference to get to the bottom of it. Labour excelled at explaining the problem. When Gordon Brown went through his phase of ennobling bankers and asking them to decide government policy, he asked Lloyds’ Sandy Leitch to conduct the Skills Review which found that Britain does well at educating its elite, but not well with others. Germany, by contrast, has 60pc of youngsters in upper secondary education in vocational training. Half of all German pupils in vocational training spend more