Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Gove's Bible for schools plan stalls, becomes confusing

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Considering that he is man in charge of one of the most crucial government budgets, and a key member of a government implementing the deepest public spending cuts in a generation, the education secretary Michael Gove seems to have a bizarre enthusiasm for publicly-funded projects that can at best be described as ill-judged.

Earlier this week, Gove hit the headlines for apparently suggesting that the best way to provide opium for the unwashed masses give the nation a lift in tough economic times was to spend £60 million on a new yacht for a billionaire landowner. This followed the recent news that the education secretary ("My department has found itself in an exceptional financial situation as a result of the need to focus on reducing the national deficit and to do so as quickly as possible" - June 2011) had devised a plan to send every school in the country a copy of the King James Bible, complete with his own foreword.

Sadly, though, today's Guardian reports that the Bible plan has stalled, with Gove having been told, apparently for the second time in a week, that he can not use public money to fund the project. According to the report, the Bibles have already been printed, but will remain in storage in a warehouse abroad until Gove can find private sponsorship for the plan.

However, the Department for Education has denied that this is the case, saying that they do not know whether the Bibles have been printed or where they might be if they have, and have reassured schools, which currently do not possess any copies of the Bible, that the delivery will go ahead before Easter as planned. One source has even told the Guardian that the costs will be covered by public money, if a private sponsor cannot be found.

So to summarise, those two conflicting accounts mean it's not entirely clear what's happening with Gove's Bibles. Have they been printed? Will they be delivered? It seems you'll need to stay tuned for updates in this gripping will-they-won't-they saga.
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