Grandmother dies of brain aneurysm after junior doctor tells her ‘don’t worry you’ve pulled a muscle’
A grandmother died of a brain haemorrhage after she was told by a junior doctor she only had muscle strain, an inquest heard.
Caryl Hinton went to Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital after suffering a sudden pain in the head, blurred vision, a stiff neck and pins and needles in her hands while out shopping with her six-month-old grandson Xander. Caryl, who has four children, went to the accident and emergency department on May 28 but was given inadequate tests, the inquest heard.
The 48-year-old was seen in the A&E department by second-year trainee Dr Amy Webster.
Dr Webster admitted that Miss Hinton, showed some classic symptoms of a leaking aneurysm in the brain but at the time but she did not seek advice from a consultant nor did she order a CT scan. [Scans cost money!]
Dr Webster, a doctor in A&E, said she found none of the ‘red flag’ symptoms of danger, such as the sudden onset of a severe headache, loss of consciousness, changes in pain depending on posture, neck stiffness and persistent vomiting.
Instead of ordering a CT scan, she diagnosed a soft tissue injury and sent Miss Hinton home with painkillers, medication for nausea and a neck injury advice card. Just 16 days later, Miss Hinton collapsed at home on June 13 and was rushed to hospital where she slipped into a coma and died.
Dr Webster, who had been registered with the General Medical Council for just a year at the time, admitted she could ‘probably’ not have eliminated the possibility of a brain injury of the sort that led to Miss Hinton’s death. And, under cross-examination by Mr Jones, she admitted Miss Hinton’s symptoms were ‘probably not’ consistent with a soft tissue injury. Miss Hinton was also known as Mrs Thompson.
Consultant Andrew Morgan, who was on duty in A&E when Miss Hinton was taken to hospital in June after she collapsed at home, said guidelines on patients with head injuries were available on the hospital’s intranet but were not more readily to hand for junior doctors.
He said procedures had been reviewed since the tragedy.
Mr Allen adjourned the inquest until next Tuesday to consider his verdict.
Father dies two days after being told by black doctor the stroke he suffered was an attack of vertigo
A widow spoke of her anger last night after an out of hours doctor who diagnosed her stroke victim husband with vertigo over the phone escaped being struck off.
Dr Francisca Ogunbiyi twice refused to visit Jeffrey Wingrove, 48, after he collapsed at home with severe vomiting and crippling headaches.
Instead she decided he was suffering from vertigo and prescribed some anti-sickness drugs for his wife, Isabelle, to collect.
Mr Wingrove, a father-of-two who ran marathons, died 48 hours later.
His family have since been awarded a six-figure sum in an out-of-court settlement for clinical negligence against the family doctor and East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
Nigerian-trained Ogunbiyi could have been struck off by the General Medical Council, which heard Mr Wingrove would have lived if his stroke had been diagnosed earlier. But in May she was handed a warning which must be declared to employers for the next five years. She appealed against the ruling, which was upheld yesterday during a five-hour hearing in London.
Mrs Wingrove, 54, said: ‘If he had been given medical attention and she did her job properly he would have survived. I can’t understand how she gets a warning and can continue working. ‘Not only has she taken my husband’s life but she took him away from me. I’m so very disappointed in the system. ‘I hope people see her picture and make sure they don’t go to her practice.’
During the hearing in May, the panel was told Mr Wingrove fell ill on the morning of December 9, 2006, at home in Braintree, Essex, after going to the bathroom and collapsing in ‘terrible pain’. He crawled to his bedroom with a severe headache and was unable to move the right side of his body easily and was sweating and vomiting.
His wife, who works at a local college, contacted her GP and was directed to an out of hours service run for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust by private firm Primecare because it was a Saturday.
Ogunbiyi called Mrs Wingrove shortly afterwards and told her to take her husband to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.
In an alarming exchange that was played during the hearing Mrs Wingrove – who at 5ft tall was 1ft shorter than her husband – again asked for a doctor, saying she couldn’t get him out of bed. She was told: ‘You will have to get him out, I’m afraid.’
Mrs Wingrove then rang NHS Direct and a nurse told her to demand a home visit from a doctor as soon as possible. At 12.20pm she called Primecare again but was told by the doctor: ‘I’m afraid NHS Direct is different from here. They can insist and they can jump up and down but they know the system and it’s not fair on you.’
Mrs Wingrove said: ‘You’re telling me I cannot get a doctor here? I cannot get him out.’ The GP responded: ‘You’re shouting.’
At around 9pm she called paramedics who also said her husband was suffering from vertigo when they arrived. They gave him paracetamol and failed to take him to hospital.
The following morning he fell off his bed and was taken to Broomfield Hospital. He was later transferred to Queen’s Hospital in Romford where he died the next day.
Ogunbiyi, who lives in Benfleet, Essex, and works at Vange Health Centre in Basildon, was sacked by Primecare after the tragedy. She was unavailable to comment after the hearing yesterday.
Top Tory calls for tougher British border controls
IAIN Duncan Smith will today lay bare the growing Coalition rift over immigration by launching an outspoken attack on Lib Dem attempts to block tougher border controls.
In a stark plea to David Cameron not to break the Tory promise to bring immigration under control, the Work and Pensions Secretary is expected to warn that any failure to reduce the number of newcomers settling in Britain every year will wreck his drive to overhaul the welfare benefits system.
He will also rubbish suggestions that tough immigration controls could lead to a skills shortage in the UK as a “red herring”.
And he will make clear that controlling immigration is part of the Government’s “contract with the British people”.
His remarks are bound to be seen as a sharp riposte to arguments from Business Secretary Vince Cable and other Lib Dems against tightening border controls.
And they come after the Prime Minister recently admitted that being in a Coalition with the Lib Dems was preventing him from being more “radical” in tackling immigration.
Mr Duncan Smith will make clear his concerns about the direction of the Coalition’s immigration policy in a speech to a think-tank in Madrid today. He will say: “If we do not get this right then we risk leaving more British citizens out of work, and the most vulnerable group who will be the most affected are young people.”
Mr Duncan Smith will argue that the huge influx of migrants under Labour led to a boom in cheap labour that undercut British-born workers. As a result, the number of UK-born people living on welfare handouts spiralled. The Work and Pensions Secretary will warn that continuing high levels of immigration could leave millions on benefits for life.
“We have to ensure that our immigration system works in the interests of Britain, enabling us to make a realistic promise to our young school leavers,” he will tell the Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis in Madrid, a think tank close to Spain’s centre-right Popular Party.
“It is part of our contract with the British people. This Government is reforming welfare to make work pay, and to help people back to work.”
UK population growing at fastest rate for 50 years
The UK population is growing at its fastest rate for half a century driven by immigration and an imminent new baby boom.
Almost half a million people were added to the UK population last year – the highest level since 1962 and the start of the last baby boom, figures revealed yesterday. New migrants accounted for almost half the increase while the number of births hit a 20 year high.
However, the increase in children was also partly down to a rise in migrant mothers meaning immigration had both a direct and indirect impact on population growth, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
The trend means enough people to fill the city of Manchester were added to the country last year and, if it that rate continues, the population will hit the 70 million mark by 2026.
The growing figures are a fresh headache for the Government which has pledged to slash immigration. Ministers were last night warned they must “get a grip” on immigration because there is no money to fund the extra pressure on public services.
The UK population grew by 470,000 to 62.3 million in the 12 months to June last year, representing a rise of 0.8 per cent on the previous year. That was both the highest rise and largest growth rate since 1962, the ONS said. It also means the population is growing at four times the rate of the 1980s when it averaged just 0.2 per cent a year.
Almost half the growth was due to a 230,000 net immigration, the difference between those moving to and those leaving the UK, over that period. The other major driver was so-called natural change, the difference between births and deaths, which added an extra 234,000 people to the country.
The total number of births for the year was 797,000, the highest since 1991, and around one in four of those were to non-UK born mothers. The ONS report added: “Past migration has contributed to the increase in natural change through its impact on births.”
Immigration also helped the number of women aged between 15 and 44, which incorporates those of child bearing age, increase by 200,000 to 12.5 million between 2002 and last year.
However, the report stressed that the rise in births is also being driven by older mothers who had put off having children to pursue careers and are now “catching up”.
The rising net migration is a blow to David Cameron who has pledged to bring it down to the “tens of thousands” by 2015. A report released by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory last week said it is thought they will only achieve half the desired effect at best.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “The evidence is mounting that the Government must take urgent steps top get a grip on immigration which is a major factor in this growth. “Otherwise, there will be immense extra pressure on public services for which there is simply no money.”
Damian Green, the immigration minister, said: “This is yet more evidence of the impact that a decade of uncontrolled migration has had on the UK. “We are in the process of fixing the immigration system we inherited to ensure that any migration-related population growth is sustainable and brings benefits to the UK. “Net migration has been too high but the controls and reforms we are introducing will bring it back down to the tens of thousands.”
Generation gap over etiquette
The mother in law below is perfectly correct and gives good advice about traditional British etiquette but young people tend to live in an “anything goes” world where such standards are like something from Mars.
It might be noted that the point of etiquette is to smooth over social relations and its basis is consideration of others. A British advice columnist sees the matter similarly
After having read the uncouth and unwise remarks of the father of the bride, however, there may also be a social class divide (as well as a generational divide) at work — a hugely tense issue in Britain. The columnist I linked to above has some remarks on that
“Pray silence for the best man who will read out the mother-in-law’s emails”
As any bride-to-be knows, making a good impression on one’s future mother-in-law is vital in ensuring that the big day goes according to plan. So when Heidi Withers received a vitriolic email apparently from her fiancé’s step-mother, accusing her of a lack of manners, it was clear she had not got off on the right foot.
Unfortunately things got a great deal worse when she forwarded the stern email to some of friends – who astonished by its tone – decided to give it a wider audience. In no time at all the email had gone viral, becoming an internet sensation, and reaching tens of thousands of readers.
Problems began when Miss Withers, 28, a PA, who lives with her fiancé Freddie Bourne in Fulham, west London, visited his parents at their home in Dawlish, Devon. Following the visit, Freddie’s step-mother, Carolyn Bourne, 60, a celebrated flower breeder, apparently fired off an email to her future daughter-in-law accusing her of being uncouth, rude and graceless.
The email said: “It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
It went on: “Your behaviour on your visit to Devon during April was staggering in its uncouthness and lack of grace.”
It added: “If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. You would be an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series. Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.” The email said Miss Withers’ behaviour had been so rude that it had left the family dog, Bomber, traumatized, depressed and anxious.
Listing a litany of alleged transgressions, the email accused Miss Withers of staying in bed too late; complaining about the food; cracking inappropriate jokes about the family and failing to send a card thanking them for their hospitality. It also said: “You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why…It is vulgar.”
In addition Mrs Bourne apparently criticised her future daughter-in-law’s plans for the wedding and said her aspirations were outstripping her finances.
The email said: “No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour. “I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that…) “If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.”
And in a stinging pay-off she apparently remarked: “One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie.”
Mr Bourne, 29, who runs an online bicycle shop, Capital Cycles, refused to comment on the email last night but conceded the matter had been discussed within the family. He said: “Obviously this has been discussed within the family but we are not commenting other than that.” Mr Bourne would not comment on whether the wedding was still going ahead.
Meanwhile Mrs Bourne, who runs Whetman Pinks Ltd nursery near Dawlish in Devon, also refused to be drawn on the content of the stinging email. Yesterday she was attending a Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) plant show at Stonleigh Park, Coventry, with her husband Edward.
Mr Bourne said: “We are aware of what is being said. I know it is very boring, very repetitive and very dull but we will not be making any comment and neither will my wife.”
Miss Withers, who has a 23-year-old sister, September, was keeping a low profile last night and there was no sign of her at the flat she shares with her fiancé. Her parents, Alan and Sylvia, who live in Ledbury, Herefordshire, were also not available for comment last night.
Miss Withers and Mr Bourne have been together for several years and enjoyed an extensive trip across the United States in 2009.
It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.
Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
* When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
* When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
* You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
* You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.
* You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
* No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.)
If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.
Day Britain defied the militants: Schools are hit hard, but chaos elsewhere fails to materialise
Militant union leaders yesterday failed in their plans to bring Britain to a grinding halt. Only schools suffered serious disruption as hundreds of thousands of teachers walked out in strikes across the country. But the promised paralysis of the public sector machine failed to materialise.
Official estimates suggest up to eight in ten civil servants heeded calls to keep the country moving by going to work despite industrial action over pension reforms.
Downing Street insisted there had been ‘minimal disruption’ at border checkpoints, courts, driving test centres, coastguard stations, job centres and benefit call centres.
At the Ordnance Survey, of 1,118 civil servants, only one went on strike, while 90 per cent of staff at the Department for Communities and Local Government crossed the picket line.
However, officers had to be taken off patrol in London to replace the 95 per cent of 999 call handlers who abandoned their posts.
Yesterday’s strike, while negotiations are ongoing with the Government about how to reduce the huge cost of public sector pensions, split the union movement. It also cast doubt on the ability of unions to muster sufficient support for a wave of industrial action culminating in a general strike in the autumn.
Christine Keates, head of the NASUWT – which did not join yesterday’s action – said: ‘It’s important to keep the high moral ground. ‘That means if there are negotiations, that you seek to exhaust all other avenues before resorting to industrial action.’
One senior Government source said: ‘The whole thing has been a complete damp squib. ‘It was not even as big as the strikes of the Labour years. We have been completely committed to talks with unions over public sector pensions, and remain so.’
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the civil servants’ Public and Commercial Services union, insisted turnout had been ‘incredible’, claiming more than 200,000 of his members – twice the official estimate – stayed at home. He said his members had been left with no choice but to take action as the government was not prepared to ‘compromise on any of the central issues of the strike’.
Ministers have accepted recommendations from former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Hutton that will mean public service pension contributions increasing by 3 per cent on average and retirement ages rising.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, who is leading talks with unions, said: ‘What today has shown is that the vast majority of hard-working public sector employees do not support today’s premature strike. ‘Very few civil servants wanted this strike at all – less than 10 per cent of them voted for it – and they are right.’
Mr Maude said reform of public sector pensions, which are costing every family £1,000 a year, was ‘essential’ and said the planned changes would ensure that they will still be ‘among the very best, with a guaranteed pension which very few private sector staff now enjoy’. ‘They will be paid later because people live longer, and public sector staff will pay more, for a fairer balance between what they pay and what other taxpayers pay,’ he added.
Labour leader Ed Miliband criticised workers for walking out while negotiations on reform of their pensions were ongoing, saying it would not help them win their argument. Up to 44,000 strikers took part in street protests, including 20,000 in central London. One female officer and six members of the public were hurt.
Scotland Yard said 37 were arrested in the capital for offences including drug possession, criminal damage and breach of the peace.
The crisis came as smatterings of violence broke out during a 20,000-strong march through London in protest against pension reform.
More than 3,000 officers were on duty manning the march and securing the Houses of Parliament where three quarters of civilian staff, including security guards, skipped duty.
So what is the truth about the affordability of public sector pension schemes? Lord Hutton’s report made the need for reform absolutely plain. His analysis showed that ‘the status quo is untenable’ and that ‘future costs are inherently uncertain’.
Official figures suggest that the country faces a bill of more than £900billion for total public sector pension liabilities over the decades ahead. That is three times the national debt of crisis-hit Greece – or more than the total debts of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland combined.
In the private sector, most get nothing. If they do have a company pension, it is typically worth about £25 a week. But they are having to pay for state workers’ pensions, with a typical family forking out around £1,000 a year to meet the cost. As bitter pill as it is for millions of public sector workers to swallow, that is neither fair nor sustainable.
Pupils banned from British school playground after seagull builds nest in the middle of it
Pupils have been banned from their school playground after a seagull built a nest in the middle of it. The bird has moved into the yard at Millom Infant School, Cumbria – and after previous experiences with aggressive gulls, staff have declared the playground out of bounds.
A schoolboy spotted the nest during a lunch hour last week and told his parents, who in turn notified the school. The nesting area has now been fenced off to allow the bird to raise any chicks unharmed.
Jan Procter, reception teacher, said: ‘We have a little outcrop in our playground and the seagull has spotted this and decided to make a nest and has laid two eggs. ‘One of the parents told us after a pupil told them about it. ‘We rang the RSPB for advice and they told us seagulls are protected.
‘We’ve not been able to use the playground and so we have to use our grassy area instead.’ Mrs Procter said the children have not been too disappointed as they are still able to play outside.
However, their play equipment cannot be used for at least one month while the bird eggs hatch. She added: ‘We have had seagulls at our school before and we’re now waiting with interest to see what happens next.
‘The children can still go outside but we are keeping them out of the playground. ‘Because the children are not anywhere near the nest, the seagull hasn’t been too bad but I’m sure it wouldn’t have been if we let them loose in the playground.’
A spokeswoman for the RSPB said: ‘All nesting birds are protected by law and some do pick weird and wonderful places to nest. ‘A playground might not be the obvious choice but we have heard of birds under car bonnets and on Ministry of Defence tanks so they can’t use them. ‘It’s lovely to hear the school sought advice and haven’t disturbed it.
‘Hopefully the children can learn from it and track the progress – they will get to see some lovely fluffy seagull chicks. ‘We’d urge everybody to keep their eyes open for nesting birds and hopefully everyone would be as considerate as the school.’
UK needs new nuclear plants says Liberal minister as he completes U-turn on power stations
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne completed his spectacular U-turn yesterday when he backed a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Liberal Democrat minister said new nuclear plants were needed to keep Britain’s lights on and would have an essential role in tackling climate change and curbing soaring fuel bills.
Mr Huhne, who once described nuclear power as a ‘failed technology’, now says it is an essential part of getting Britain ‘off the oil hook’.
Speaking ahead of the launch of new electricity market reforms which will make nuclear power more attractive for business investors, he praised the example of France, where 77 per cent of electricity is generated by nuclear power stations, arguing that it provides the French with both better energy security and lower bills.
And, putting himself on a potential collision course with the rest of his party, he warned that Britain is in danger of falling behind if it delays the dash for new nuclear power stations.
Mr Huhne said: ‘Some countries already have a head start. ‘Electricity prices in France are set to rise by around three per cent this year; compare and contrast with Britain, where prices are rising by three times as much. ‘It is no surprise that less than ten per cent of France’s electricity comes from fossil fuels.’
Mr Huhne’s new enthusiasm for nuclear power leaves him open to charges of hypocrisy. In 2007 he described it as a ‘tried, tested and failed technology’ and said it had no future. He has since claimed that these comments were ‘misunderstood’ and that he was not opposed to nuclear power provided it did not involve large state subsidies.
The Lib Dem manifesto pledged to ‘reject’ plans for new nuclear plants. Mr Huhne’s comments will infuriate MPs in his party who want the Coalition to follow the lead of Germany and Italy and scrap nuclear in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
The Coalition Agreement allows Lib Dem MPs to abstain on the issue but many are now expected to vote against. Some 19 Lib Dem MPs – one third of the Parliamentary party – have signed a Commons motion warning that events in Fukushima ‘underline the extreme dangers inherent in nuclear power’, and calling for it to be abandoned. Signatories include former leader Charles Kennedy and party president Tim Farron.
Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood accused ministers of pushing through secret subsidies for the nuclear industry – in breach of the Coalition agreement.
He called for a windfall tax on the nuclear industry to claw the money back. Mr Horwood said: ‘There are going to be some pretty frank discussions about nuclear. ‘There is growing unhappiness at the level of subsidies creeping in for the nuclear industry – they are being given millions of pounds for no change in behaviour whatsoever.’
Jobs gloom for a third of recent British university graduates as they languish in posts that do not require degree
More than a third of recent graduates are unemployed or languishing in stop-gap jobs that do not need a degree, official figures show. Students have been running up debts only to find themselves jobless or doing work for which they are over-qualified. One in ten of last year’s graduates – 20,000 – are unemployed and more than a quarter are in dead-end jobs.
The figures, published yesterday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, will raise serious concerns about the value of getting a degree at a time when tuition fees are to rise to £9,000 a year.
Researchers analysed the destinations of 213,390 full-time first degree graduates who left university last summer. Some 133,940 were in employment only – equivalent to nearly two thirds. This is up from 59 per cent the year before. The remainder were unemployed, in full-time further study or a combination of further study and employment. Just 56 per cent of those employed were in an ‘occupational job’. Some 17 per cent of graduates were in further study.
The average salary for last year’s graduates was £20,500, the figures show – just below the £21,000 threshold at which they will have to start repaying their tuition fee loan from next year.
Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, said the situation left potential students facing a dilemma. He said: ‘Going to university used to be the norm, but it is now becoming a catch-22.’
Universities minister David Willetts said: ‘The graduate jobs market is showing encouraging signs of improvement. However, graduates still need to work hard to maximise chances of success.’
Britain may at last have the education boss it needs
Since becoming Education Secretary last May, Mr Gove has scythed back the powers of the state. He has displayed shrewdness about the politics of deficit reduction. In short, he has been, by some distance, the most impressive member of the Cameron Cabinet.
The quirkiness has not disappeared entirely. Within hours of his appointment, he wandered into Downing Street and stepped on something slippery. Whoaa! He went head over tail, his pratfall being caught by the cameras. It was a very Govian moment and he responded by hooting with laughter.
At the Commons Despatch Box, similarly, he is never dull. He twirls words and phrases like a drum majorette with her jewelled stick, explaining the deficiencies of the educational Establishment.
Mr Gove has gone about his task with precision, loosening the grip of egalitarianism on our schools. By egalitarianism I mean the creed of state-imposed homogeneity — the socialist belief that people’s life chances are best met by government ordaining everything from the centre.
This Left-wing idea has, Gove believes, betrayed the poor whom the Left always claim to want to help.
Mr Gove speaks with a personal experience rare in the upper reaches of Cameron’s Conservative party. Adopted as a baby, he was reared a world away from Eton. His adoptive father worked in the Aberdeen fish trade.
His humble background means that Labour are unable to smear him as some Cameroon ‘toff’.
And yet the teaching unions were complacently pleased when he landed the job. They thought they would soon ‘have’ this pigeon-chested figure. He came across as a Keith Joseph de nos jours. You surely remember Joseph, the croaky, bafflingly intellectual prophet of Thatcherism. Mr Gove seemed to be similarly unworldly; a bit funny to look at on TV; his mouth full of words but his feet not always on planet Earth.
They soon wondered that had hit them. Within weeks, Mr Gove pushed through Parliament an Act which created Free Schools and more Academy schools (semi-independent state schools).
Wham. It was done even before the old stocks of Education Department notepaper, with Labour’s dumbed-down logos, had been replaced by something more dignified.
Labour screamed that Mr Gove was ‘rushing’ his policies — but what on earth was wrong with rushing? Children grow up fast. The ‘take more time’ argument is always used by enemies of change. What they mean is: ‘Give us another year of fat salaries and juicy pensions.’
Under the last Education Secretary, the dogmatic Ed Balls, a philosophy of ‘every child matters’ was a euphemism for a relentless bias against excellence, pursued with almost Iron Curtain zeal.
Mr Gove immediately set about dismantling the power of the state-ists. He gave teachers protection, allowing them to retain anonymity in allegations of abuse by pupils.
This was not some small gesture. The statistics were terrifying. A third of all teachers had been accused of mistreating pupils — an absurd situation which was pretty obviously the result of unruly teenagers trying it on with a weak system.
Mr Gove, who has never been troubled by the guilty conscience of privileged liberals, called the bluff of the school bullies.
He also encouraged a return to discipline, uniforms and more rigorous schoolwork. Out went many Mickey Mouse subjects. In came the English Baccalaureate to encourage a greater breadth of learning.
He allowed teachers to ban pupils from bringing mobile phones and worse into the classroom. He demanded a return to ‘proper’ history teaching which gave youngsters an idea of British heritage.