January 28, 2012

Gove gave what to who and why?

This is weird. Harry's Place is very worked up about an article in The Guardian which they are suggesting shows insensitivity on Holocaust Memorial Day (yesterday).  The Guardian article says that the UK's Education Minister, Michael Gove, awarded a £2 m grant to the Community Security Trust (CST), a zionist group mostly funded by Gerald Ronson supposedly to provide security for Jewish premises, schools, shuls, etc.

Here's HP, under the headline, The Guardian’s Holocaust Memorial Day Surprise:
The Guardian has celebrated Holocaust Memorial Day by running a “gotcha” piece which implies that Michael Gove MP improperly provided government money to the Community Security Trust Michael Gove, the education secretary, awarded £2m of public money to an organisation that he promoted as an adviser for four years.
The education secretary personally made the decision to give taxpayers’ money to an organisation to fund better security at Jewish schools. Gove has promoted the Community Security Trust(CST) as an adviser since 2007.
Documents obtained by the Guardian show that Gove personally wrote to the trust confirming that the education department was awarding the money to it. He issued a public statement saying that he had “secured the funding” to the trust.
Richard Benson, the trust’s chief executive, replied to Gove twice thanking him for his “personal commitment” to providing the funding. Benson’s letter lists Gove as a member of its advisory board, along with more than 50 others.
The minister has taken a strong stand against antisemitism. However, questions are being asked over whether he should have taken any role in awarding the money to the organisation.

The Guardian article, according to its history, appeared in yesterday's print edition but it was updated subsequently to take into account the fact that the CST claims it was only distributing the money.  This paragraph was inserted:
All the money is distributed by the Community Security Trust to the schools which then employ the security guards. As the trust's role is essentially administrative, none of the money is retained by the trust or pays for any of the trust's work.
And the amendment is mentioned at the bottom of the online article thus:
This article was amended on 27 January 2012. The original may have implied that the Community Security Trust retained cash or employed school security guards.
Now if you scroll back up you will see that in the online article as copied by HP there is a link to the ministerial announcement.  Here it is again. And here's how the Department for Education announced the funding:

Education Secretary Michael Gove today confirmed up to £2 million to fund tighter security measures in Jewish faith schools. 
Community Security Trust (CST), a charity working to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in the UK, will receive revenue funding for the extra measure of security guards at 39 Jewish voluntary-aided faith schools across England. 
Parents of children at these schools currently pay around £1.6 million a year out of their own pockets, along with the CST providing £400,000, to ensure their children have a school environment safe from any potential anti-semitic or racist threats. 
Schools are responsible for funding general security measures such as fencing, gates and CCTV out of their main school budget. However, following assessments obtained by the CST, the extra security provided by guards in place at Jewish faith schools helps ensure pupils and staff remain safe. 
Confirming the funding on the last day of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, Michael Gove said: 
Faith schools make a fantastic contribution to our education system and none more so than Jewish faith schools, which teach children the importance of ethos, values and a belief in social justice. 
Children and staff at these schools should feel safe at school and able to learn in an environment free from any anti-semitic or racist threats. That is why I have secured funding of up to £2 million for 2010-11 to be made to the 39 schools via the Community Security Trust. 
The first payment of £650,000 will be paid in arrears for the autumn 2010 term, with up to £2 million funding being provided for 2010-11, subject to further evaluation. 
Richard Benson, Chief Executive of Community Security Trust, said:
CST is grateful to the Secretary of State for recognising the importance of security provision at state-funded Jewish schools, and for the time he and his Department have spent assessing the problem and constructing a viable solution. We will work with the Department for Education and the Jewish school sector to ensure that the funding for school security is distributed efficiently and according to need. 
Joshua Rowe, Chair of Trustees at King David Schools in Manchester, welcomed the news: 
What a wonderful Chanukah present for the whole Jewish community. We hugely appreciate the support the Secretary of State for Education and the Government will now offer – to ensure that our schools and pupils receive the protection they require and deserve.
There's no mention of the rather technical issue of who handles the money or who is employed by whom. The fact is that The Guardian reported pretty much what appeared in the departmental statement together with a criticism of the fact that Gove has been an advisor to the CST. The article doesn't even mention the fact that some of the CST's reporting on antisemitism is, at best, controversial and that many of us see its role as defending and promoting zionism rather than protecting Jews.

Neither The Guardian article nor the Education Department's statement nor HP mention that Michael Gove describes himself as a "proud zionist", though surely this could be considered relevant. The Guardian article might also have asked if there are any strings attached to the allocation of funds by the CST but it didn't.

In other words, this is an HP rant about nothing. The Guardian reported what Gove's department reported with the additional information that Gove has been an adviser to the group to whom the funding was being given. And what did HP add to the Education Department and The Guardian reports?  Well, it reported the fact that yesterday, apart from being Friday 27 January 2012, was Holocaust Memorial Day. And how did Harry's Place "celebrate" Holocaust Memorial Day? By reporting what The Guardian reported, by lamenting the passing of some blogs and looking forward to the closure of The Guardian. In other words the only mention of Holocaust Memorial Day at Harry's Place on the day itself was in a piece decrying The Guardian for a straightforward factual report.

UPDATE: The Guardian article has now reappeared in Saturday's edition. Curiously there is no mention of this in the "article history" to the online edition which is still dated Friday 27 January 2012.

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