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Private school Clegg: have our politicians no shame?

Surprise, surprise. Nick Clegg, the man who once said the attainment gap between state and private schools was “corrosive for our society and damaging to our economy”, is considering going private for his own son.

“I’ve never, ever, ever sought to make my children’s education or my children a political football,” he told radio station LBC, before adding that he would not seek to contradict wife Miriam Gonzalez-Durantez on the matter.

He is not the first to make such a statement – politicians are frequently made to squirm on the issue, while in contrast it has become a media fetish for journalists to publicly wring their guilt and dilemmas on the school-choice issue. Nor is he the first one to publicly pass the buck to women. As much as I condemn Diane Abbott for her school choice, it is plain that there are plenty of white men in parliament who have got away with worse.

It is a testimony to the domination of our media by the upper middle class and privately educated that he could get away with these statements. For the vast majority of parents, there is no question of political footballs of any sort, because opting out of your local school in favour of something posh and expensive simply isn’t within their means.

Yet somehow we continue to buy the narrative that politicians must make very human decisions, as parents only, in these situations. Forget the fact that the prospect of this sort of posturing is totally alien to most.

“Like all parents who are sending their children to secondary school in London… as you know there is huge competition for places,” Clegg elaborated. But what is the implication – that his son might not be allocated a place at a state school at all?

But is there not a greater significance – when did it become acceptable for politicians to simply abandon their consciences when their children reach the age of 11? When Abbott opted for the exclusive City of London Boys for her son, the principle objection was hypocrisy. This is a valid charge, but it runs the risk of over-simplification: as if her greatest crime was having condemned Harriet Harman’s decision to use selective schools many years before. It’s the sort of logic that prompted that very same Nick Clegg to give that notorious tuition fees apology – where he apologised for making the promise not to raise fees, rather than apologising for breaking it.

We can’t expect consistency from politicians one hundred per cent of the time. But education of one’s children is a pretty crucial one. Those who are afforded choice in the matter by their circumstances should have the humility to recognise that their ‘burden’ is a result only of privilege and rampant inequality. And it should go without saying that the school is at the heart of the community, and to opt out is a fundamentally selfish act.

11 Comments

  1. Rob the crip says:

    I would as well if I could afford it, so would you if you had the money the education of our kids to day is vital, and like it or not our schools have become political dumping grounds.

    My grandsons school had three warning about it’s education levels then it wrote a letter, saying vast amounts of it’s budgets had gone on hiring Polish teachers, Asian teachers, to cope with the educations authorities dumping all immigrants into it’s area.

    If I could afford like Ms Abbot I would have paid for my kids to go private.

    very much like Blair.

    Sadly the new intake of MP’s into Labour shows that education and the University political qualification are important, no more working class or in fact anyone except University grads who come up doing free work for a year, then go onto work for an MP will be accepted.

    Free schools Schools , Labour we think this may be one of the Tories good idea.

    Miliband band wagon politics again.

  2. Dave says:

    Rob – they want your vote and that’s about the extent of their interest in you.

  3. Rob the crip says:

    I gave up voting in 2010, and have little interest in any political group right now.

  4. Will says:

    excellent post. Ignore the person commenting above.

  5. Rob the crip says:

    Will well said mate why bother listening to the people.

  6. Imran Khan says:

    There are a number of issues here which this rather glib article does not address as it is written by a doctrinaire ultra leftist.

    The reason why Diane Abbott sent her son to a private school was because his local one in her Hackney constituency has a high rate of exclusions of black youths because of their disruptive behavior and violence towards their teachers.

    Then, until recently, Ms Abbott organised a yearly conference paid for by some gullible white organisation which sought to blame the exclusions on racist teachers and a racist system.

    As the real reasons for the exclusions and low educational achievement of African Caribbean youths became obvious, gang culture, bling lifestyles etc, even she had to abandon the yearly blame game conferences.

    As Clegg’s wife is Spanish she will of course be bringing a particularly Spanish practice to the education of their child. Children go to school to be educated, not to be indoctrinated with multiculturalism or stabbed.

    It is blindingly obvious that if people can afford it they will send their children to private schools no matter what the standard of the state sector and only a total leftist ideologue could deny that.

    In the case of the current state system both Labour and Tories are to blame for what has happened. The rot set in in the sixties when Labour allowed no end of crank educationalists, usually of a Trotskyist bent, to introduce whatever the latest trendy educational theory.

    Heath’s short early seventies tenure didn’t have time to correct the damage which got worse throughout the seventies when the NUS was more or less run by the IS/SWP.

    Since then two more than decade long regimes of first Tory and then Labour either did nothing to improve the system or made it worse. For all his faults Gove is at least confronting the mess and trying to do something about it.

    Yes Clegg and Abbott are hypocrites and so are all of the politicians that have contributed to the mess over the last forty years. Labour because of their slavish of whatever educationalist fad was prevalent at the time and the Tories for doing nothing to correct the damage.

  7. Rob the crip says:

    Mr Khan that is the biggest load of rubbish so far, Abbot even owned up to sending her kids to a private school, so they would get a better education, at the time she was having a go at Blair for doing the same thing. Then she came out with the rubbish, other black people have to send their kids to these schools they cannot afford to pay for private education, they are stuck with it Abbot was not, pity she did not send her kids and then fight for better education.

    Miliband on free schools has been interesting once he thought the public were for it, which is another band wagon Labour loves, so long as the public seem to like it then Labour like it. welfare same thing.

  8. Matty says:

    Regarding the rather bizarre comment from Imran Khan I would be interested to know if this is the same Imran Khan who is or was a councillor in Reigate. I suspect that it might not be the same person but is instead a totally made up name.

  9. AL says:

    No, Matty.
    It’s not. It’s Terry Fitzpatrick.
    Yes, the same, Terry Fiztpatrick who was convicted for calling black people the ‘n’ word and the ‘p’ word.

  10. Matty says:

    Thanks Al. It really wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case.

  11. […] article first appeared Left Futures, on 25th January […]

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