Gove praises Ofsted head but 'roles need refreshing'

Education Secretary Michael Gove has denied there was a political agenda behind the removal of Baroness Morgan as the head of Ofsted.

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Michael Gove has said outgoing head of Ofsted Baroness Morgan had done a "fantastic" job and denied she was being removed because she was Labour.

The education secretary told the BBC the government believed "from time to time you need to refresh the person in charge... to bring fresh perspective".

Baroness Morgan has claimed to be the victim of a "determined effort from Number 10" to appoint more Tories.

Mr Gove said the decision was entirely his and nothing to do with No 10.

He told the Andrew Marr Show: "I think she's done a really good job. I think that she and the chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw are a fantastic team.

"But one of the things I feel - and across government - is that from time to time you need to refresh the person who is in charge of an organisation."

He said that Baroness Morgan had come to the end of her three-year term as Ofsted chairwoman and it was good corporate practice not to automatically reappoint people - a different person could come in with a "new perspective" and make sure there were "tough questions asked".

Labour candidate

Mr Gove pointed out that he had appointed Baroness Morgan in the first place, knowing she was Labour, adding: "It's also the case that we've recently appointed a former Labour special advisor Simon Stevens to head the NHS. Now when we come to appoint the new head of Ofsted I will appoint, and we will appoint, on merit."

Mr Gove declined to rule out Conservative Party donor Theodore Agnew as a replacement for Baroness Morgan.

He said the appointment would be made on merit and that it would be "quite wrong" to rule out a suitable candidate simply because he was a Conservative.

"I want to make sure that we have the widest range of candidates and I don't think anyone should be ruled out on the basis of their political allegiance.

"If someone is a distinguished former Labour minister and they want to put their hat in the ring, then I would look favourably on that. If there's a distinguished Liberal Democrat educationalist, great. If there's someone who's a Conservative, why should they be ruled out just because they are a Conservative? I think that would be quite wrong."

The Lib Dems have reacted angrily at the decision not to reappoint Baroness Morgan, with new deputy leader, Sir Malcolm Bruce, telling BBC 5live's Pienaar's politics: "They are trying to politicise something that should be kept out of politics.

"It's also a bit odd to my mind that Michael Gove should make this change without consulting or taking into account the views of his schools minister David Laws who after all works very closely with Ofsted.

"I think there's an issue here, a concern that Sally Morgan is going to be replaced with someone who is quite explicitly and ideologically a Tory to deliver inappropriate politics in what is after all an operational body of inspection."

Education Minister David Laws, a coalition loyalist, was said on Saturday to be "furious" saying the decision had "everything to do with Michael Gove's desire to get his own people on board".

'Feminist McCluskey'

The outgoing chairwoman, who was appointed by the coalition in 2010 as chair of the education inspectorate for England, told BBC News on Saturday her removal was part of a pattern which had seen a series of non-Conservative supporters on bodies like the Arts Council and the Charity Commission replaced with loyal Tories.

"I really do think it's just I am the latest of a fairly long list of people now who are non-Conservative supporters who are not being reappointed," she said.

"Often they are people who have been working really well with their organisations and, indeed, with their host departments, so I do think this is coming from Number 10.

Harriet Harman and Michael Gove Harriet Harman and Michael Gove debated their respective parties' record on appointing women to senior roles

"I don't think it is coming from individual departments."

Baroness Morgan's predecessor as Ofsted chairwoman, Zenna Atkins, told the BBC News Channel she did not think her successor had done anything to annoy the Conservatives, so believed it was probably just a desire for a fresh view at the top.

She added that the recruitment rocess for her was "robust" and "fair" and involved head hunters, a series of interviews, including with the permanent secretary at the education department before the final two candidates were interviewed by the secretary of state.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman told the Andrew Marr Show she was concerned that many of those losing their posts were "senior authoritative women, all being replaced by men".

"It's like it is raining men in the Conservative Party."

Mr Gove responded by pointing out that he had not only appointed Baroness Morgan in the first place, but had also appointed women to other senior positions.

He then hit back by reminding Ms Harman that the Conservatives had had a woman prime minister, and said the Labour Party were dominated by trade unions, such as Unite which he joked was "led by feminist hero Len McCluskey" and Paul Kenny from the GMB "who's been getting in touch with his softer side over the weekend".

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  61.  
    10:19: Davey on hate preachers BBC Radio 5 live

    Following reports today that there is a row in the coalition between Theresa May and Vince Cable over so-called 'hate preachers' on university campuses, Ed Davey says "the consensus view - which the Tories used to sign up to" is that prosecutions should only occur if a speaker crossed the line into directly inciting violence. He tells John Pienaar "if you change that line, that's a dangerous attack on free speech".

     
  62.  
    10:14: Labour green record 'hopeless' BBC Radio 5 live
    Ed Davey

    Ed Davey tells John Pienaar that the Labour Party has a "fairly hopeless record" on green issues. The Lib Dems, Mr Davey says, "want the next parliament to be the greenest government ever", and to that end his party will be setting out five green bills in their manifesto.

     
  63.  
    10:10: Tuition fees BBC Radio 5 live

    The Times columnist Jenni Russell tells John Pienaar she can't understand why Labour have chosen to promise to reduce university tuition fees, which she describes as "a very strange way to spend a couple of billion pounds" given that - according to her - the issue isn't a live political hot potato any more.

     
  64.  
    10:03: 'Different types of immigration' The Andrew Marr Show

    While criticising the government's "failed" immigration targets, Yvette Cooper admits that immigration is too high. Refusing to be drawn on specifics, she says that Labour's immigration policy would "target different types of immigration." The government has taken "the wrong approach" by lumping "all migrants" into same migration target, she argues.

     
  65.  
    10:02: Surveillance powers The Andrew Marr Show

    Yvette Cooper says that intelligence agencies already have strong legal powers to implement surveillance on terror suspects. While Labour support updating surveillance powers for new technologies, she says these must have "proper checks and balances." That is why Labour have asked for the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, to review the law and recommend changes.

     
  66.  
    @JPonpolitics John Pienaar, 5 Live presenter

    tweets: On Pienaar's Politics from 10am, I'll be joined by the Energy Secretary, @EdwardDaveyMP and @grantshapps. Watch: http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live

     
  67.  
    09:56: Security services' 'hands tied' The Andrew Marr Show
    Yvette Cooper

    Yvette Cooper says Labour will bring back "the relocation part of control orders" to help "disrupt" terror plots in the UK, by moving suspects "away from their networks, away from the radicalisation, the extremist networks they might have been working with". The security services have had their "hands tied" by the current government, she says, pointing out that despite the "considerable risk" of a terror attack only one person is on a TPIM. This demonstrates that control powers are "simply not strong enough". But she adds that such powers - even if altered in the direction Labour wants - "should not be routinely used".

     
  68.  
    09:50: 'Shocking but not surprising' The Andrew Marr Show
    Kalsoom Bashir

    Kalsoom Bashir, co-director of Inspire, says it is "shocking but not surprising" that young girls are being attracted to join Islamic State, as the group have a "campaign specifically targeting young women" by "hooking into their vulnerabilities." School girls - such as Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana who are believed to be travelling to join Islamic State in Syria - are too "religiously illiterate" to know the difference between "Islam and Islamism" or "facts and lies".

     
  69.  
    09:37: 'Galvanising' extremism The Andrew Marr Show
    Helen Ball

    The UK senior national co-ordinator of counter-terrorism, Deputy Assistant Commisioner Helen Ball, says the Syrian civil war has had a "galvanising" effect on people becoming radicalised. Counter-terrorism investigations have "increased enormously" since the conflict began, while the police service are uncovering "more plots all the time". She adds the police miss the power of the "control order" - which kept terrorism suspects in their homes without access to phones or internet. She adds that it would take an "enormous number" of officers to provide surveillance on a suspect for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

     
  70.  
    09:30: Immigration 'dismay' The Andrew Marr Show

    Cardinal Nichols says he is "dismayed" that immigration has become such a big issue in politics ahead of the upcoming general election, and says all parties should have their views on immigration "tested." He adds that "the human person" must be always kept foremost in mind when discussing the issue, and he says without the "positive contribution" made by the "vast majority" of immigrants, London would "grind to a halt".

     
  71.  
    @michaelsavage Michael Savage, Times chief political correspondent

    tweets: Key ? on Labour's tuition fees - is there better way to spend £3bn? Tories/Lib Dems could now use same pensions raid to fund something else.

     
  72.  
    09:29: Politics 'everyone's business' The Andrew Marr Show
    Vincent Nichols

    Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, defends religious institutions getting involved in politics. He tells Sophie Raworth politics is "about the wellbeing of our country and that's everyone's business." He adds: "It urges people to ask what society we want to be and what role we see for ourselves in the wider world."

     
  73.  
    @patrickwintour Patrick Wintour, political editor of The Guardian

    tweets: Labour's tuition fees cut gets pasting in Sundays, but supported 3 to 1 in YouGov poll, despite voters knowing does not aid poor students.

     
  74.  
    09:21: Full surveillance 'not possible' The Andrew Marr Show
    Margot James

    On the subject of British citizens travelling to fight for terrorist movements, Conservative MP Margot James says it is unfortunately "simply not possible to subject all potential targets to the degree of surveillance that we would need in order to prevent them travelling to Syria" or other jihadist hotspots.

     
  75.  
    09:20: Paper review Daily Express

    The Sunday Express reveals how security forces finally identified Emwazi, who has appeared in several videos showing beheadings carried out by the Islamist group. The paper says spies worked out who he was after he used his student number to download discounted software after arriving in Syria. It also carries an interview with UKIP leader Nigel Farage , who calls for security services to be "given tools" to fight extremism.

     
  76.  
    09:13: Paper review The Daily Telegraph

    The Sunday Telegraph leads on a revelation that "an al-Qaeda terrorism suspect closely connected to 'Jihadi John' [a.k.a. Mohammed Emwazi] is living in London, having used the Human Rights Act to prevent the Government from deporting him". The paper also reports that two contemporaries of Emwazi's at his former school have since died while fighting alongside terrorists in Somalia and Syria respectively. Education Secretary has ordered an inquiry into the Quintin Kynaston academy in north London as a result.

    Sunday Telegraph front page
     
  77.  
    09:00: Paper review The Guardian

    Mohammed Emwazi had earlier been able to flee Britain despite being a member of a London-based terror cell that had links to the failed 21/7 attacks on the capital in 2005, according to the Observer. Associates of a 12-strong group spent time at a terror camp in Cumbria a year before the bid, the paper says. And it also reports that Labour is on course for an "absolute majority" in the House of Commons, according to a new poll commissioned by the paper.

    The Observer
     
  78.  
    08:57: 'Bizarre' response to minimum funding guarantee
    Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb said Welsh ministers were being offered 'exactly' what they had asked for

    Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has described Welsh ministers' response to a promise on minimum funding as "bizarre". On Friday, the UK government proposed a funding "floor" - guaranteeing a minimum Welsh government income. The Conservatives now want Labour Welsh ministers to call a referendum on devolving part-control of income tax. First Minister Carwyn Jones - a Labour politician - denounced the funding offer as a "vague promise", but Mr Crabb said it was a response to specific Welsh government demands.

     
  79.  
    08:49: Paper review Sunday Times

    Inside the Sunday Times, a group of the paper's reporters looks at the "bewildering transformation" of Mohammed Emwazi from a "socially-inept computer programmer" to infamous murderer. The paper leads on an alleged row in the coalition between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems: "New rules drawn up by Downing Street to force universities to ban all 'extremist' speakers from their campuses are being blocked by Vince Cable, the business secretary." And it also carries a story about a plan by some senior Tories to "Save Dave" in the event the prime minister wins more votes but fewer seats than Ed Miliband's Labour in May.

    Sunday Times front page
     
  80.  
    08:45: Paper review

    The Mail on Sunday leads with further details of the background of British-born Mohammed Emwazi, a.k.a. 'jihadi John'. The paper's security editor describes how as far back as 2010 Emwazi was convinced the security services were tailing him. Looking elsewhere, the paper's Ian Birrell writes about the recently-assassinated Boris Nemtsov, an opponent of Vladimir Putin's in Russia.

    Mail on Sunday front page
     
  81.  
    08:21: BBC One, 11:00 GMT Sunday Politics

    Today's political coverage on the BBC starts, of course, with Andrew Marr - but by no means finishes there. Join Andrew Neil on the Sunday Politics sofa at 11:00 GMT on BBC One, where he'll be joined by: Labour's Liam Byrne, the shadow universities minister; UKIP leader Nigel Farage; the Conservative former Defence Secretary Liam Fox; and the journalists Isabel Oakeshott, Nicholas Watt, and Janan Ganesh.

    Sunday Politics guests
     
  82.  
    08:20: BBC One, 09:00 GMT The Andrew Marr Show
    Yvette Cooper

    It's been a frantic week in the political world, with election fever spreading to more and more people. UKIP kicked off its spring conference; Labour announced it would reduce tuition fees by a third; and new immigration statistics proved embarrassing for the Conservative Party. But it wasn't a week spent entirely slinging mud - the coalition outlined a new devolved settlement for Wales, in a news conference that saw a show of unity and good humour between David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Join Andrew Marr at 09:00 GMT on BBC One to review the past week and look ahead to the next. His guests today include Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper; Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster; and the actress Kristen Scott-Thomas.

     
  83.  
    08:04: Good morning Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Sunday's political coverage - there are only nine more before the election takes place. Sam Francis and Adam Donald will bring you all the main news and comment from the papers, and all the key moments from the morning's programmes such as The Andrew Marr Show, Pienaar's Politics and Sunday Politics. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics

     

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