Francis Beckett

I heard about Gordon Brown’s resignation on my way to a Russian-organised concert at the Albert Hall to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. 

Tory education spokesman Michael Gove is a class act.  He is fluent, clever, humourous, and I enjoy our email banter enormously.

But Michael Gove as educations secretary will be poison to state schools.

So the Anti-Academies Alliance has today pleaded with Nick Clegg not to allow it to happen.

Gordon Brown is a strange man. Everyone says so.  Blairites say it with rolling eyes, significantly tapping the sides of their elegantly coiffured heads.  Brownites say it with the sort of admiration that often comes close to despair. 

The despair comes from the strangest thing about him: that the charismatic radical he can be – the man I interviewed for my Brown biography early in 2007, a month before he became Prime Minister - is a man whom, most of the time, he feels he has to hide.

Academies haven’t been much in evidence during the election, because there’s a cosy consensus between Labour and Tories.  Labour wants these privatised schools; the Conservatives want more of them.

But I’ve been talking to a parent with a definite view about who to vote for in her South Dorset constituency, if you’re against the extraordinarily Stalinist academy proposal on the Isle of Portland.

There was  a sad reason for my visit to Glasgow (see article below.) I was attending the funeral of my old friend and comrade Harry Conroy, former general secretary of the National Union of Journalists as well as a formidable journalist and author.

I was close to tears a lot of the day. 

Being a cheapskate when I'm paying my own fare, I asked for a second class sleeper to Glasgow. I was told there weren't any. I had to pay extra for a cabin to myself.

But at the station, the attendant showed me into a sharing cabin. I pointed out that they'd wrung an extra £20 from me for a single one.  Apparently they knew that - and I'd have it to myself. 

I came out of a meeting Wednesday afternoon to find four calls from broadcasters wanrting to interview me, the first I've had duiring this election campaign, and I knew at once that Gordon Brown must have egg on his face. That's the only way my Brown biography gets me airtime. 

I should be just coming back from Bahrein.  But last Tuesday night, the British Airways website carried a plea for those with seats to cancel them, so that if places were running, BA could get stranded passengers home. We cancelled ours.  But instead of giving returned seats to stranded passengers, BA is selling them at a premium (see story here.)

Joan Bakewell, crowned “The Voice of Older People” by Harriet Harman in 2004, has lent herself – unintentionally, I think – to an attempt to corral the grey vote for David Cameron.

Politicians know they need the third age vote. Not only are third agers a growing part of the population, they are also much more likely to vote than other generations.