Francis Beckett

It was my son Peter who alerted me to the ghastly truth.  After a BBC radio debate with John Pienaar, he told me: “Matthew Taylor was right, and you were wrong.”

I boarded a Norfolk Line ferry for Dunkirk to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the evacuation.  Spitfires flew low alongside us and looped the loop, a great fleet of the original small boats which scooped the men off the beeches escorted us into the harbour, the bagpipes played the Last Post, and the band of the Parachute Regiment played Tipperary, and Run Rabbit Run, and We’ll Meet Again, and The White Cliffs of Dover, and all the other songs you’d expect.

And I joined the rest of the media pack, selecting for interview the best of the Dunkirk veterans lined up for our inspection, recognisable at once by their age, their crisp and clean suits, and their chestfuls of medals.  And I ended the day only with questions.


I ought to have smelled a rat when I went to see Lib Dem education spokesman David Laws before the election, and he wriggled like a fish on a hook.


Privatising education was a Conservative idea, but at least when Education Secretary Kenneth Baker proposed handing education to companies, the state school had the Labour Party on its side.


A socialist supporting Tory government public sector cuts?  Sounds against nature. But if the rumours that George Osborne intends to take on the Training and Development Agency for Schools are true, I'll happily hold his coat and cheer him on.

An old friend who knows what he's talking about warns me against sympathising with David Triesman.

I ask this question because, years ago when he was a trade union official, I had a pleasant lunch with Triesman.  Pleasant, that is, except that he would go on about how close he was to Labour's new leader, Tony Blair.

That night I had a drink with a mutual friend, a woman, and asked if if Triesman really was that close to the next Prime Minister.  She said: "I love David very much, but he has a very rich fantasy life."

And that's that.  Except for one thing.

I've known David Triesman, on and off, for thirty years or more.  He's personable and likeable in public, and indiscreet in private.

It seems clear that Education Secretary Michael Gove has beaten the Liberal Democrats hands down.  Whatever else the Tories don't get, they are on course to get a massive expansion of privatised schools. 

Those of us who think we ought to elect the people who run our schools should be signing up straight away to Fiona Millar's campaign for accountable schools.

It always troubles me when I catch myself agreeing with former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore. 

Watching Adam Boulton’s scrap with Alastair Campbell, I remembered my extraordinary visit to London Broadcasting a few weeks back, to be interviewed by a young woman called Petrie Hosken, who beats even Adam Boulton for self-regarding pomposity.