Debate: As Nick Clegg faces criticism, do polticians have a duty to educate their children in the state sector?


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The Independent Online


What's going on

Nick Clegg has given his strongest hint yet that he and his wife, Miriam, plan to send their oldest son, Antonio, to a private school.

The Deputy Prime Minister told the BBC: “I totally accept that when we make a decision, that will be the subject of public commentary and criticism and so on, but I hope in the meantime we want to protect the privacy of an 11-year-old boy and make a decision that we think as parents is best for our son.”

How much commentary is fair in this matter? Do politicians have a duty to send their children to state school or is it none of our business?

Case for: Setting an example

Every politician, no matter their persuasion, has a duty to the state. They are ultimately responsible for ensuring our national institutions function to an acceptable level. As an MP,disdaining to send one's children to state school implies a lack of "buy-in" to the system. We don't have to strive to improve education, such a move suggests, we can just short-circuit the process and pay - if you can't afford to follow us, tough titty. Could there be a worse example?

Case against: Parent first

Is Nick Clegg a parent or a politician first? The humane answer is parent. His prime responsibility is to the welfare of his children and abstract concerns about propriety have no place in the discussion of a child's future. What rides on Clegg's decision, the future of state schools? Of course not. The only thing he can affect directly is the future of Clegg Junior. Let the Deputy PM do what he feels is best - and accept we have no right to stand in his way.