Last December Graham Lane, the ebullient Labour education chairman of the Local Government Association, got a nice Christmas present. The government set up a further education student support advisory group and made Mr Lane the chairman.
This December Mr Lane, a keen government loyalist, did not get such a nice Christmas present from his Labour friends. His group had called for an injection of Pounds 400 million to ensure students get adequate support. And they wanted child benefit abolished and redistributed - something the government is piloting. This week the government announced a more modest package.
But Mr Lane is unlikely to be deterred for long. He spent years opposing the Conservative government and in November last year he challenged Hackney councillors to oppose government policy at their peril. "These people are bringing local government into disrepute," he said. "If they decide to try and join Guy Fawkes and blow up the government, they will see fireworks."
This desire to work with, or as his critics say, pander to, the Blairite government led to his resignation as general secretary from the Socialist Education Association earlier this year. Mr Lane told the Times Educational Supplement: "I am not going to spend my own money to travel round the country and be insulted. It's been a real culture shock. I've never known anything like the sheer viciousness of what's been going on."
Mr Lane has had his successes in recent times. In the London borough of Newham, where he is chair of the education committee, he saw the borough confirmed as London's most improving education authority in government league tables last year. A former grammar school boy brought up in a working class home in Birmingham, Mr Lane is now working towards their abolition - he believes that there is no point in selection that only benefits 20 per cent of the population.
People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.
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