Was Cameron playing a little too freely with Balls quote?
Never mind the innuendo, this, asked by Michael Crick, Newsnight’s political editor, is number 395 in my series of Questions to Which the Answer is No. I must admit that I assumed, when David Cameron in his conference speech today quoted Ed Balls, that he had distorted the shadow shadow chancellor’s meaning:
Ed Balls, the man who used to be in charge of education in our country, said one of the dangers of our schools policy was that it would create “winners”.
Winners? I mean we can’t possibly have winners. The danger that your child might go to school and turn out to be a winner.
Anti-aspiration. Anti-success. Anti-parents who just want the best for their children. What an unbelievable attitude from this Labour generation.
Crick has found the Newsnight discussion on 25 May between Ed Balls and Toby Young, which Cameron’s office claims is its source for the quotation, and cites Balls’s words about the Conservative free schools policy:
The danger is that there will be winners in this policy, but it is dishonest not to say that there will be losers as well.
Crick says that this is very different from what Cameron said he said. I disagree; Balls said precisely what Cameron alleged. The word “danger” attached to the existence of “winners”, not to the fact that there would also be losers.
There was no difference in substance between what Ed Balls said then and what John Prescott said in 2005:
If you set up a school and it becomes a good school, the great danger is that everyone wants to go there.
Photograph: Rebecca ReidTagged in: ed balls, headline, schools reform
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