Editorial: Keep politicians' children out of it

 

Share
Related Topics

It was hard not to feel sympathy for Nick Clegg when he was asked on his radio phone-in this week about plans for his eldest son's education. With Antonio's transfer to secondary school looming this autumn, the Cleggs face the choice all parents face at this stage: not just which school to choose but, if money allows, whether to go state or private. The dilemma is particularly sharp in London because of the shortage of places and – despite the big improvement in the capital's schools – because of the gap between the truly excellent and, frankly, not so excellent.

For a politician, however, the choice is still more complicated. Going private is all too often interpreted as a vote of no confidence in state education. For a Labour politician, especially, this can be the kiss of death; if the decision itself does not stymie a career, the pillorying that follows may well do. Many will recall the vilification of Diane Abbott and Ruth Kelly when they chose private schools for their sons. Tony Blair played the religion card, sending his children to the sought-after Oratory School.

Yet politicians of all stripes can find themselves saying one thing and, when it comes to their own child, doing another. David Cameron, the old Etonian, has made much of the fact that his elder daughter attends a state primary. But it is early days yet.

Few would dispute that there are big disparities – in facilities and attainment – between the best private schools in Britain and the average state secondary. Few would deny either that, in an ideal world, those disparities, or the private schools themselves, would be made to disappear. But this is not an ideal world, and no government, least of all this one, is going to legislate to nationalise the public schools.

The private/state school divide probably does more than anything else to perpetuate class distinctions in Britain; as such, it is a blight on our national life. So long as it exists, though, politicians must be allowed the same freedom as everyone else to choose their child's school, without the choice being held against them. Mr Clegg said he did not want his children's education, or his children, to become "a political football". He is right. The Cleggs have kept their children out of the political limelight; their schooling should be kept out of it, too.

Keep politicians' children out of it

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Part Time Male Support Worker / Full Time Driver

£9464 - £12995 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will ne...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing and Business Development Officer

£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hull based charity providing except...

Recruitment Genius: Part Time Female Support Worker

£9464 - £10396 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will ne...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Sir Trevor Nunn's stance on diversity is dangerous

David Lister
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Have you called the homeless 'the people you step over when coming out of the opera'? Then you too could get a peerage from David Cameron!

Lee Williams
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future