Lies, Damned Lies, and EU Procurement

Reading Andrew Marr’s book, My Trade, is a useful reminder of the shadier and at times brutal aspects inside British journalism (and wishing him a speedy recovery).
Covering the broadsheets as well as tabloids, he particularly looks at the Parliamentary Lobby system and how editors and proprietors set their political stall out, as well as starting with a fascinating history of journalism since the 1700s.
For any colleges teaching journalism looking for a good case study in political reporting, they could do worse than the Daily Mail’s flattering coverage of Michael Gove’s announcement as UK Secretary of State for Education that the government was withdrawing its proposal for an Ebacc (English Baccalaureate) to replace GCSEs. The reason for the U turn?
Not as nearly all the other media outlets have suggested, a widespread opposition from professional bodies, trade unions, and various expert organisations. No, the reason is “EU procurement laws” according to the Daily Mail, 8 February 2013. Really?
One part of the proposals was to have just one examination board for the Ebacc, based on the argument that the current range of examination boards for GCSEs has created grade inflation because schools shop around for the easiest exams.
But these exam boards are independent of government, and if anything from the EU has protected them from abolition it is the EU Single Market law which limits state powers against other organisations.
Not such a good headline there, so instead the issue is fudged with EU procurement references instead. So much for education! Book:
My Trade, by Andrew Marr (2004).

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