A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Not impressed

I take a bit of an old-fashioned view on this - i.e. that it ought to be incompatible with being a Labour MP to pay for private education or private health care.

If you are responsible for the education and health care that everyone gets, you ought to demonstrate your confidence in it by using it yourself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remind me who your MP is and when she'll be deselected?

11:34 am, January 08, 2007

Anonymous David Floyd said...

I think Luke's views on his local MP and her conduct are entirely consistent with the view he's expressing here.

I agree with the initial point, especially as Ms Kelly has recently had direct responsibility for the department that can provide (or otherwise) suitable educational services for children with special educational needs.

This approach suggests that she believes that everyone else's children should suffer from what she clearly perceives as her own failure but her own children should not.

A genuinely bizarre position.

1:11 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Ingrid Polansky said...

But doesn't anonymous mean that Luke should be calling for Diane Abbott to be deselected for having committed the same offence, whereas he proudly posts photos of himself with her?

Come on Luke - deselect Diane or not?

1:43 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard that Luke is planning to bury the Hackney hatchet and apply for this very job.

1:54 pm, January 08, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't think it will come as any surprise to Diane that I will do the same thing I did in the previous 2 parliamentary selections i.e. vote against her in the trigger ballot at my ward meeting. I get on OK with her on a personal level but it would be grossly hypocritical for me to vote to reselect someone as our local candidate when I don't agree with her on any of the major issues. Please note that does not constitute "calling for her deselection" or campaigning for it - it's an honest statement of where my vote will go - other local members can make their own minds up.

2:08 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get a grip Luke.

Either you are saying that she should immediately resign as an MP or that she should make a decision not in her child's best interests.

Either that or you are just striking a pose... so she can shaft the Labour Party or punish the child in your world.

The rest of us live in the world of shades of gray plus I bet all your great political heros - Bevin, Gaitskell, Crosland etc all sent their kids to private school - so were they all people who shouldn't have been Labour MPs either?

To coin a phrase - this ins't statesmanship, its an emotional spasm.

Very poor, Luke - go to the back of the class.

2:13 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Andrea said...

"I don't think it will come as any surprise to Diane that I will do the same thing I did in the previous 2 parliamentary selections "

Can I ask when the re-selection process in Hackney North will take place?

2:31 pm, January 08, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Anonymous, using your logic, everyone who can afford to send their kids to private school should, whatever their views on the matter.

I can afford to send my children to a fee paying school, I won't be though because I don't believe people should be allowed to buy educational advantage in this way.

On the same principle the company I work for has always offered me private health care as part of my terms & conditions and I've always opted out of the cover.

There are lots of things that money can buy you that might help you or your family - but if you aspire to public office you have to be accountable for making those choices and if you are a political activist you have to square them with your beliefs.

I don't know many CLPs where a prospective candidate who paid for private health care or education would get selected so it is galling for those Labour members to then find MPs doing this once they are in office - particularly when lots of those Labour members (who don't hold public office) have not made choices they could have afforded because of their political principles.

Which is quite apart from the moral choices involved in sending children away to live in a boarding school ... however well-appointed its facilities ...

2:31 pm, January 08, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Andrea, no time table set yet.

2:32 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She said it was not uncommon for pupils with substantial learning difficulties to spend some time outside the state sector to help them progress.

"Sometimes this is paid for by the local authority. In my case, I have not and will not seek the help of the local authority in meeting these costs," Ms Kelly said.

interestign defence, but the point remains that teh disparity of wealth that makes it possible for her to pay out of her own pocket shouldn't exist - Ministers on workers' wages, anyone?

4:38 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, I note you don't answer the point about what you think should happen - either you think she is good enough to be a Labour MP or she isn't.

And what of Bevin, Gaitskell, Crosland?

5:04 pm, January 08, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I think I made it pretty clear where I stood in the original post when I said I thought it was "incompatible with being a Labour MP".

I would have great difficulty voting for anyone in a parliamentary selection who was prepared to pay for private healthcare or education.

My reaction is less one of being angry, more totally gob-smacked. There are just certain things that are central to being Labour, and not buying your way to accessing schools or hospitals is one of them.

Clever point about Gaitskell but I am not sure where Bevin or Crosland sent their kids to school. I'm fairly sure that 50 years ago even some Labour leftwingers took a more relaxed line on this. Unfortunately I don't.

5:25 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous islingtonian said...

"I'm fairly sure that 50 years ago even some Labour leftwingers took a more relaxed line on this. Unfortunately I don't."

Unfortunate for who? Ruth Kelly? Hackney Labour Group rises up against the DCLG in a rare fit of municipal militancy!

It was in fact the issue that precipitated a divorce in the Corbyn household, I seem to recall (he against, Claudia for).

6:35 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't blame here really; family has to come before party every time.

Having said that, it is a pretty damning insight into her true feelings about the qulaity of state education.

7:02 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the issue is that state provision for kids with certain disabilities is too poor, why doesn't she resign from the government, or send her kid there anyway?

I'm not really into big statism, but I don't see there being much of an excuse for this, especially for an ex-education minister.

7:04 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Andrea said...

"Andrea, no time table set yet"

Thanks :-)

"It was in fact the issue that precipitated a divorce in the Corbyn household, I seem to recall (he against, Claudia for"

yes, I think newspapers reported he divorced because of divergences regarding the possibility to send one of their sons to a selective school.

7:06 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous David said...

I seem to recall that Crosland and Benn sent their children to Holland Park Comp. If I recall correctly, Hilary Benn was offered a place at TB (and Ruth Kelly's) alma mater of Westminster.

There is an interesting debate here about how the better off use their money to try and buy their kids a better future - something I don't think you can legislate to prevent. As an aside I'm not sure if under the Human Rights Act you could ban private schools. If we were to reduce their tax advantages, and hence push up fees, it wouldn't hurt those to whom cash is no problem (and either aren't our voters and never will be or who will vote for us come what may) but likely hurt aspirational voters who are the very people New Labour seeks to get to vote for them.

Two dilemmas to consider in the context of state education. 1) Is it better to send your kid to a private school or to buy an expensive new house in a catchment area of a good state school thus potentially making the whole area more expensive and out of reach of key workers? 2) Is it better to pay school fees or to send your kid to state school and then top that education up with private tutors at home? There is a certain honesty in paying school fees. Private education will only cease to be an attractive alternative when parents' perceive that the state offers an equal or better alternative for their child.

In designing an education system though, we need to make sure that the vulnerable are protected in the state system and they get the chance to fulfil their own potential through it. Focussing on what is a small part of the education market (i guess less than 20% of all schools?) is likely to be a distracting issue. We must focus on what we can do by improving state schools, not on what we can't control.

It feels to me that it is only a resigning issue for MPs and Ministers if their private actions disagree with their public statements. Despite her role as education secretary, I'm not sure what Kelly has said on the subject.

If all MPs had to agree with all principles of the party, we would be a much smaller party. I guess though that Luke will argue that there are certain core principles to which you must adhere and that this is one. I'm not sure I agree.

7:31 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Ingrid Polansky said...

If my memory serves me correctly, you celebrated the birth of Jed Augustus George Akehurst in October 2005.

By that reckoning, your son will be at the right age to consider prep school - were you to change your views - in 2013.

By coincidence, this is the same year when, according to Jon Cruddas' recent speech, the Labour Party membership will on current trends have dwindled to zero.

I think you know where I'm going with this one.

10:46 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Janine said...

I have a five-year-old son with special needs. I need to have confidence that the state education system will take care of him. I can't imagine a greater blow to that confidence than a Cabinet Minister and former Edcuation Secretary pulling her kid out of the state system. So (choke) I agree with Luke.

10:52 pm, January 08, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, hope for you yet son as a socialist with principles......

12:28 pm, January 11, 2007

Anonymous observer said...

I'm gob-smacked too (in that, for once, I am in wholehearted agreement with Luke on this one).

However, I can't help feeling that the main issue has been lost within all these arguments about what MPs should or shouldn't do; namely, that the state's provision for children with special education needs has not improved, but deteriorated, over the past ten years.

6:43 pm, January 13, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a year-6 gap year for you and your family within easy reach of Clissold Park.

Rent a house for a few months in Grazebrook road or Barbauld Road for 10 months while renting your own privately. It's very easy and an increasing number of Stoke Newington houses in the SNS catchment are available on 6 and 10 month lets.

You then get your child into Stoke Newington School. You can then go on to bore your dinner party friends with how you support state education and talk about how hypocritical are our politicians with impunity.

If anyone need the names of the people renting these houses year after year for this express purpose just ask around, we all know where they are. You could of course just contact the Learning Trust or Mr Mark Emerson, head teacher at SNS, who receive applications from these addresses every 12 months without fail. The school also gets a change-of-address form from the child on day 1 of year 7 just to rub the nose of everyone who got turned away.

Wake up Lukehurst your council is presiding over fraud even by your members and activists while you trot out your shite.

9:33 am, January 16, 2007

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