LETTER:Labour politicians' comprehensive history of selection

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The Independent Online
From Mr T. H. Hockton

Sir: Voters may not indeed share the faith of unreconstructed "old Labour" or "old Lib Dem" activists (leading article, 22 January). Not all of these have been responsible for their own children. Some are lucky where they live. Others are like the sectarians whose faith bans radical treatment for their children.

In 16 years, Tory governments have done little to reduce the gap between private and general education. It is naive to argue that, if all educated and articulate people send their own children to the nearest local school, it can improve quickly enough to benefit them.

After 35 years of secondary school teaching, I retired as head of a comprehensive school, then taking 360 boys and girls each year. As a young man, I fought two parliamentary elections as a Labour Party candidate. We argued for comprehensive schools, hoping to improve everyone's chances. We were short of practical experience and appreciation of the human and material resources needed.

It was disappointing but we should not despair. With our support, realists such as Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown can make progress - providing they are not too hampered by the complexes of their old-fashioned evangelicals.

Yours faithfully,

Tom Hockton

Hove, East Sussex

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