Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quite untenable for a Labour minister

Clause Four of Labour’s constitution: “It (the Labour Party) believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few.”

Ruth Kelly, a Labour Education Secretary seems to have secretly turned her back on the local state school and jumped through the hoops of selection for a highly elitist school. It is horrible to pass judgment on a parent’s private decision about the education of a child, and one with special needs at that. Horrible, but important. Had Ruth Kelly not been prepared to accept public discussion of her decision to send her son to a private school, she could have chosen to pursue an alternative career. She could have resigned from the Government at least, if not from her seat and the Labour Party.

All parents who move their children from state schools to private education breach the above principle in the most fundamental way. Each time an articulate, ambitious parent removes his or her child — and therefore the parent as well — from the state system Labour holds that it damages the chances of every child that remains in the local school and therefore nowhere would “our common endeavour” be more important than in joining forces to improve outcomes in individual schools. And that is what should be central to all that a democratic socialist stands for, because a good educational start offers the key to everything else; it is opportunity. Nothing else comes close.

When influential people in public life send their children to private schools, and feel guilty about it, they stop campaigning to improve education, not because they do not care about the life chances of the rest of the country, but because they fear they have no answer to the accusation: well, why don’t you send your kids there, then? If you believe in “the strength of our common endeavour”, there is no defence.

The true answer is "I put my child’s interests before my political convictions". Which is tricky if you are a Labour supporter or member but even worse if you are the Labour Education Secretary who, while still in post, seems to have secretly turned her back on the local state school. If breaching the most fundamental principle Labour holds is not enough Ms Kelly should resign because this Labour Government removed from other children of poorer families the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of private education by withdrawing the Assisted Places Scheme. It even withdrew assisted places funding for children already receiving it, when they moved from primary to secondary level, despite initially promising not to.

Nor did she campaign to improve special needs provision in the state sector.
This is the hypocrisy of Labour.

1 comment:

KG said...

I'd guess that no sane person would object to her giving her own child the best start possible, but -as you say-the hypocrisy of her position is staggering.
And so typical of this bunch.