Tuesday 23 March 2010

Cathy Ashton's EU Country Club

Labour's skills secretary, John Denham, has recently been battling a vociferous lobby bent on protecting publicly subsidised adult education.

The skills secretary faced boos when he agreed to meet campaigners against cuts to evening classes

"People have been changing dramatically how they learn in the past 10 years," he said, and there was a need "to capture" this. If he had to choose between funding courses for people who could not read or write, or "subsidising people who want to learn Spanish for holidays" ... The end of the sentence - words to the effect that the decision was a no-brainer - was immediately drowned.
He is quite right, of course. The state should have no role in funding unnecessary education from taxes.

Interesting, then, that the BBC report the over-promoted Cathy Ashton to be 'considering' taking French lessons at the behest of French EU affairs minister, Pierre Lellouche.

The EU's new foreign policy chief, Baroness Ashton, is considering whether she can squeeze some French lessons into her busy schedule.
Well, according to EU Observer/The Times, she is past the considering stage, and has somehow found a couple of weeks in her packed desk diary which are totally blank.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has accepted France’s playful offer to teach her thе ‘language of diplomacy.’

“I hаνе just been talking to Pierre. I’m delighted. In fact I hаνе already accepted,” she said.
Polish President, Jerzy Buzek was also invited, but was either far more busy, or thought it a bit of a daft idea, or both.

Mr Buzek's spokeswoman Inga Rosinska told the BBC that he would not attend a French course any time soon because he was "extremely busy".

She explained that for work in the European Parliament: "It's not 100% necessary to spend weeks learning French."
Not necessary, but the highest-paid female politician in the world can take time off for non-essential personal improvement, following a 'playful' offer, while more parochial Labour politicians are using the same kind of superfluous language lessons as an example of profligate spending.

And the cost to the EU taxpayer of a two week course, on Ashton's £328,000 salary, just to satisfy some equally underworked Frenchie? Approximately £12,500.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, David Blunkett defends John Denham's stance on state-funded educational jollies with a spot of fairly standard economics.

No one matched the devastating impact, however, of the former education secretary David Blunkett, who began his contribution by declaring that Denham "does give a damn about adult education" but had a difficult balancing act with finite funding.
Isn't it fortunate for Ashton that the EU, being the bottomless tax money pit that it is, doesn't appear to suffer from such financial constraints?

It's all just a big, tax-funded, Brussels-based country club really, is it not?


Anonymous said...

Where did you get the 12.5k figure from, Dick?

That language school is 1700-3400 euros a week from what I can tell on their website.

I'm considering going myself. Sadly, I'd actually have to pay for it.

wv: burdend

Dick Puddlecote said...

The school are offering the tuition for free, but as Ashton will be attending during 'office hours', she will be paid while there.

£328,000 over 260 working days is a daily rate of £1,261 and change. 10 days of that (and Buzek's spokesperson talked of weeks, not week) is £12.5k

It's a busy, busy life for the incredibly busy Ashton, no? ;-)

cornyborny said...

Jesus. Christ. It's just a different plane of existence altogether.

Rhetorical question: how exactly can such feather-bedded, non-elected, never-had-a-real-job scumbags expect us, the poor saps in the real world, to take their pronouncements on anything seriously? Talk about 'them and us'.

This story's really wound me up. £12,500 is a drop in the EU ocean - just a trifling amount to be laughed about - but it'd make a world of difference to me. What's the French for 'go fuck yourself'?

Dick Puddlecote said...

I think it's "Va t'encoulez", cornyboy, but I am happy to be corrected. ;-)