Saturday 28 June 2008

LRB: faith restored (for now)

Reading the London Review of Books can be a bit like reading the Guardian: just when you decide you've had enough and have resolved to cancel your subscription, along comes something to restore your faith - at least, until the next time (see this post). So after gritting my teeth through recent issues featuring (inter alia) Gareth Pierce on the 'war' on British Muslims and Patrick Cockburn on the Iraqi 'resistance', the latest issue includes a couple of articles that make you think your £3.20 was money well spent.

I don't usually have much time for Ross McKibbin, but his in-depth piece on New Labour education policy, and particularly the city academies, is one the best things I've read on the topic, and has a good sense of historical perspective. I think he's absolutely right to say that, in the aftermath of comprehensivisation, 'the Labour Party had only the vaguest notion of what might constitute a democratic educational system.' His position on the academies is a pretty reasonable one: yes, they've achieved some successes, but why on earth do they need business sponsorship (which he describes as 'increasingly preposterous and socially regressive'), and what would be wrong with making all secondary schools quasi-academies: 'schools which possessed much of the academies' autonomy and their academic culture'? (see this post.)

I also enjoyed Eliot Weinberger's retrospective on the Obama v. Clinton contest. If you want a catalogue of reasons why Barack won and Hillary lost, then look no further. And he's quite amusing too. Listing Clinton's campaign errors, he describes her self-reinvention in Pennsylvania 'as a Woman of the People, waxing eloquent on her hunting days with Grandpa and downing shots in working-class bars, as she derided Obama - the son of a single mother on welfare - as an elitist, out of touch with the regular people she'd presumably been hanging out with all these years at Yale Law School, the Arkansas governor's mansion, the White House and the Senate'. Weinberger concludes on a note that spells hope for the Democrats in November: 'I have yet to meet anyone under forty who is not an Obamamaniac'.

1 comment:

bob said...

I feel exactly the same about the LRB!