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When Labour rejected free school lunches

John Rentoul

lunch When Labour rejected free school lunchesMichael Gove’s former special adviser, Dominic Cummings, has written a blog post about why he thinks Nick Clegg’s plan to provide free school lunches for all younger primary-school pupils is a “gimmick”.

Gove himself now pretends it is a marvellous idea, and it is true that it has some merit, mainly that it removes a means test, but Cummings argues forcefully and convincingly that it was not thought through. (He also makes a good and persuasive defence of the role of special advisers.)

The curious thing about the free lunch gimmick is that it is not new. Ed Miliband wanted to put it in Labour’s manifesto at the last election, but Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, and Peter Mandelson, overlord of everything, rejected it. They argued that it was poor value for money and therefore not a priority at a time of public spending restraint.

They were right, but it was agreed as a grubby coalition compromise by which the Conservatives got the marriage tax subsidy.

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  • Pacificweather

    The “free” school lunch is a good idea so that primary school children learn to sit together and socialise whilst eating, hopefully, a decent meal. In the days of the subsidised works canteen, adults could also do this and it was good for building an esprit de corp within the company.

  • porkfright

    A very good point totally lost on your usual political analysts.

  • Pingback: Government by Bounce, Leak and Screaming Match | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs


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