The languid, lanky, mop-topped Tristram who now speaks for Labour on Education has just made the single most impressive debut at the despatch box in living memory.
He had spent the weekend on television telling us he supported the idea of free schools – if not exactly Free Schools. He was going to launch Parent Led Academies.
That’s not even the difference between Coke and Pepsi.
So with what surprise did the Commons hear his Urgent Question this morning as he boldly denounced the “dangerous free-for-all” in education, and that this “ideological experiment” had resulted in Al Madinah and dealt a “devastating blow” to the foundations of Free School theory.
His very long legs have allowed him a foot in each far-flung camp but his position is vulnerable in the centre.
David Laws, with a characteristic display of disappointed pessimism replied that the Al Madinah school may certainly be dysfunctional and inadequate across every category – but it’s been dealt with.
Contrary to Labour’s new view of “responsible capitalism”, some individual failure invigorates the success of the species, bankruptcy is an essential fact of business, short sellers and asset strippers perform vital and difficult functions. You need jackals to keep the veldt tidy.
So, some schools will fail, and if they are punished properly, the others will be encouraged.
NB: Under the previous Government, 1,500 schools were rated as “inadequate” (that is, “stinking hell hole”) for years.