Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The People's Laptops

Gordon Brown will use his speech today to launch a new educational technology allowance that will pay for broadband connections, software and computers for poorer families who currently lack internet access at home.

Students of Welsh politics may remember the "free laptops" idea put forward in the Plaid Cymru manifesto for the last Assembly elections, a policy currently in development.

Gordon Brown's plans will apply to England alone and are funded from existing budgets, so there's no spin-off cash for Wales. As yet we don't know the timescale for their introduction so there's still time for the Welsh Assembly Government to steal a march on Mr Brown before being outflanked by the UK Government.

Mr Brown will also unveil details of (long-term) plans to expand nursery education in England. It may be telling that the two trailed ideas from the speech will be implemented through the department run by his former aide, the Schools Secretary Ed Balls.

One stylistic note: the Prime Minister will apparently be using a lectern rather than the fashionable Cameronesque "look at me, no hands" wander around the stage while talking from the heart (autocue).

Just as well, really. Some of us are still dizzy from Nick Clegg's tour of the Bournemouth stage last week.

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