Without giving it much thought, a consistent thread runs through my life – ‘education’.
Starting with school, of course, college in London was followed by a Ph.D. at Brighton Polytechnic.
After the Royal Navy, as an officer instructing ‘stuff’, I spent 28 years teaching the maintenance of flight simulators.
Only now, as the leader of Brighton and Hove Conservatives, have I ‘dropped out’ of education.
I have previously described how the Conservative Government required schools to use phonics, against instinctive scaremongering from Labour, and that those schoolchildren in England, wholly educated under a Conservative Government, now have the best reading skills in a generation.
Enlightened Conservative policies always receive a torrent of abuse from Labour, until they actually start to work: at this point Labour move onto another topic, trying to scare us once again.
Political parties elected on scaremongering are eventually caught out. Locally, Labour is playing a similar game: but the real problem across Brighton and Hove is their chaotic administration of the city.
A few weeks ago I noticed that, as a new secondary school for the city would no longer be required, the Labour administration had £15m of government money wallowing in the bank, available to deliver ‘basic need’ school places.
I submitted an amendment to a meeting of the finance committee, requesting the children’s committee spend the £15m on our schools as soon as possible: to address any future spikes in pupil numbers, fund a special educational needs (SEN) re-organisation and, crucially, solve the immediate problem of the ‘Misplaced 38’.
Labour, caught napping, came late to the party by attempting a ‘spoiler’ amendment at the last minute. This would have caused chaos across the education sector.
Conservatives members agreed to a compromise with Greens, and eventually Labour (who in a rather bizarre twist brought along a political manifesto to the debate), and the problems of funding are now being addressed.
It appears that in my new role I have not lost touch with providing a good education for those that need it most.
Tony Janio is the leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council.