Just as the new football season gets underway with the same old tricks and moves, so the new political seasons kicks off this week. Andrew Neil (Daily Politics interviewer) went up against David Gauke (Conservative MP) in the first penalty shoot-out of the season. As MPs do, Gauke brought his ‘equivocation gloves’ to the studio to defend against the interviewer’s penalty kicks.
Andrew Neil (AN) asks whether Gauke (DG) supports the creation of new grammar schools, a controversial topic that has been in the UK news recently as speculation rises that Theresa May’s new government may give the green light for building new grammar schools, the first for almost 20 years. Gauke saves well here with a clear side-step of the question and then even saves the rebound:
AN: David Gauke do you (.) support the creation of new grammar schools DG: well look (.) there is a lot of press speculation at the moment about er any sort of future announcement that may b- may be made on er er [education policy AN: [I’m I’m asking for your view DG: let let (just make this) er in in in terms of I’m not going to comment on sort of the the specific y’know some of the er specific proposals that have (.) been floating
Neil repeats the question. Again a good save from Gauke as he refuses to mention grammar schools and instead talks about an important principle of an education system.
AN: I’m not as- I’m simply [asking= DG: [but what I xx to say AN: =you a simple question do you support the creation of new (.) grammar schools DG: what is very important is that we have an education system that gives more people the opportunity to have excellent education
Neil modifies his shot somewhat and instead asks whether grammar schools would be part of the process (of creating an education system that provides opportunities for more people). In other words, is the Conservative government considering bringing back grammar schools? (A leaked document recently suggested that it is.) Gauke again saves the day with an answer regarding a ‘package of announcements’.
AN: right let’s (.) let’s take that for granted er would the creation of new grammar schools be part of that process DG: well I think that’s where we start to get into sort of details of announcements and looking at er er if you like a a a package of announcements and the particular context and I don’t want to AN: alright DG: I don’t [want to
Neil again adjust his aim to take into account this ‘package of announcement’ (whatever that is). Gauke saves by returning to the general topic of the ‘principles’ of education rather than answering any specifics about whether the Conservative government will be making any announcements about new grammar schools in the near future.
AN: [should the creation of grammar school be part of a package of announcements on education(.) DG: point I woul- the point I would make is that our objective is to ensure that we can find ways in which more people get a good education
Neil dismisses Gauke’s point by saying that all politicians say they want ‘good education’. His final kick returns to the question of whether Gauke believes grammar schools are a good thing, especially with regard to improving social mobility. Gauke once again uses the magical power of the equivocation gloves to save the shot.
AN: ev- ev- every [politician on this programme says that DG: [and we’re willing and we’re willing to look at xx xx AN: the question is how do you do it so I will try one more time (.) do you think that in efforts to improve social mobility and help kids (.) brighter kids from poor backgrounds would the creation of new grammar schools be part of that process DG: well (.) as I say yyyyyy and you can y’know ask the question again but it it we [have to look at the overall- AN: [well I don’t think xx DG: we have to look at the overall context of of the announcements that that could be made the reforms that could be made the objective we’ve been very clear about that
Five penalty shots by Neil and five saves from Gauke! What a start to the season for this MP. Neil acknowledges he has lost the shoot-out but the viewers will decide in the end who won. A change of ends and a new shoot-out.
AN: right DG: is is about [increasing those opportunities AN: [alright DG: that’s xx [we’ve got a record of delivering that in government AN: [the the the the the viewers will er come to their own conclusion about your answers to that question let me come on to Europe and Brexit
Daily Politics, BBC, 7th Sept. 2016