Francis Beckett

My baby boomers book is out tomorrow (Monday) with a stark and unpopular message for my own generation.

It says that the baby boomers saw themselves as pioneers of a new world – freer, fresher, fairer and infinitely more fun. But the world they made for their children to live in is a far harsher one than the world they inherited.

I'm currently handling media relations for the Fire Brigades Union, and a smooth-voiced young man from Metro called up tonight and reminded me of the misery of dealing with a journalist who is scrabbling eagerly up the greasy tabloid ladder, and doesn't care how much truth gets trampled on the way.

Capitalism is full of cruel iroinies.  "Virgin media shorts" says the announcer lady in a voice you could pour on a waffle.  "Championing undiscovered talent."

And I heard it because I was loyally watching the competition entry made by that splendid, but resting, actor Phil Philmar from Player Playwrights, who has helped me understand what's wrong with some of my plays.

The baby boomer generation - my generation - exercised its political muscle last week.  We have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who was not even born in 1968, but the one group he felt he had to appease was the now elderly children of the sixties.

I wake up today rather pleased that my new book is to be published by Iain Dale's firm, Biteback Publishing.  His courage in publishing a book about Wayne Rooney that Random House, which commissioned it, ran from in fear when threatened by Rooney's lawyers, makes him something like a champion of free speech.

I understand the Independent is to stop publishing its Thursday education pages.  Their last appearance will be on July 1.

Education - real education, that is, not training in the skills required for work - is in greater danger than it's been in my lifetime.  Education journalists, who a decade ago would have been sounding the alarm, don't have access to their platforms any more. 

Another call this morning from Sian Thomas-Cutts, the South Dorset parent who is fighting the extraordinarily Stalinist academy proposal on the Isle of Portland.

As usual with academies, it’s all hustle, hustle, so no one has time to think. 

Press trips are a trap for a freelance. You get to go to nice or interesting places, and it costs you nothing, but if you can’t write about them, or you don’t want to, you’ve wasted precious working hours, and your hosts think you’re just another freeloader.

So I turn them down unless there’s something a bit different about them.  What this weekend’s trip to Somerset had to offer was a hotel with a “history concierge.”


I like Diane Abbott. She’s clever, and fun, and I think she actually believes something.  But what she’s just done is to allow David Milliband to step in from on high and select which candidate the left should put up for Labour leader.

Like most of the things Michael Gove wants to do, abolishing the General Teaching Council for England is something New Labour thought of first.  All New Labour’s instincts were to abolish it, even though they had invented it.  And like most of the things New Labour thought of first, it misses the point. 

There are wasteful quangoes in education – I’ll come to that in a moment, and name names – but the GTC isn’t one of them.