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.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dear Harriet

Last night at the hustings you "expressed scepticism about parental choice" according to the Guardian.

I actually agree with your stated position on this.

However, didn't you famously exercise parental choice by sending your kids not to the local comprehensive where you live but to St Olave's - a selective grammar school in Bromley?

Hypocrite is a harsh word but one that in this instance you surely completely deserve to have applied to you.


Anonymous jdc said...

Dear Luke,

On your blog you express scepticism about the first past the post voting system. However, at the last general election, didn't you exercise a first past the post vote for the Labour Party?

We make the best of what we have, until we can change it.


9:28 am, May 17, 2007

Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

John, ouch! But in fairness to Luke, I don't think that he intends taking away the freedom of
choice on whether to vote or not - whereas those opposing parental choice would, I believe, take away the freedom to choose schools.

9:40 am, May 17, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


She had local comprehensive schools she could have used. She didn't.

10:05 am, May 17, 2007

Anonymous Harperson please no said...

I agree completely with Luke on this. Harman is being cynical and I don't understand how she thinks she can get away with it.

However, at the same time wasn't it Hazel Blears who led a demonstration against a hospital closure that was planned as part of government policy? Obviously not in the same league of blatant hypocrisy, but it still displays some cynicism...

10:15 am, May 17, 2007

Blogger HenryG said...

I'm entirely with Luke on this, but let's not forget the fact that whenever she talk about family friendly policies, she was the one that brought in cuts to lone parent benefit in the first term. The woman is a disaster.

10:23 am, May 17, 2007

Anonymous Ian G said...

Of course you could also argue that say, (just to pluck a random example out of the air) campaigning against hospital closures in your constituency while supporting the policy nationally was also maybe a tiny bit hypocritical.

I'm sure nobody here would have any truck with such a candidate.

11:04 am, May 17, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

There is a big difference between campaigning for and representing the specific needs of your constituency when the policy of your government cuts across them, and preaching one thing whilst acting in a different way to personally advantage your own family.

11:23 am, May 17, 2007

Anonymous Ian G said...

Try telling people outside that supporting hospital closures in every constituency but your own isn't hypocrisy.

I can't help feeling that if it was someone on the left of the party doing the same you'd be singing a different tune.

11:41 am, May 17, 2007

Anonymous HOVEDAN said...

the hustings were well mannered and good humoured, hazel was feisty and fun (even after her horrendous gaffe about enjoying global warming - cos we will have the temperature of Portugal!) and all the candidates made some excellent points. Perhaps because you were not there you did not understand the mood of the evening, which was genuinely comradely. Your personal attack on Harriet Harman, is ill judged and if that is the tone of hazel's campaign - you will find it difficult to win over the party.

12:07 pm, May 17, 2007

Anonymous jdc said...

I still don't agree - if the option of attending a grammar school is open to children in an area, then the remaining schools aren't comprehensives, they're secondary moderns - and at the time of her decision not even revived Labour 'academy' secondary moderns - sink schools in the dog days of a Tory government.

It is absolutely reasonable behaviour to get the best outcome for your child within the actually existing system, whatever you believe the system which replaces it should be.

2:05 pm, May 17, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

I agree with Luke on this. A lot of people seem to have forgotten's failure to walk the walk on education of late. Well remembered

4:36 pm, May 17, 2007

Anonymous Defending Luke for once said...


"Your personal attack on Harriet Harman, is ill judged"

I don't think it's out-of-order for Luke to point out that Harman is being mighty hypocritical on this.

Though he could just be scared that she's doing well.

Cruddas for deputy! Or at least coming 3rd!

5:02 pm, May 17, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Let's hope no-one finds Ms Blears being hypocritical on anything. She's a lefty you know.

5:44 pm, May 17, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

Luke - I remember you denouncing me and a comrade and accusing us of sectarianism at some Labour Students conference or other at the time of Harriet's 'choice', because we criticised her.

Is it okay now?

7:03 pm, May 17, 2007

Anonymous Benedict White said...

Luke, what is the problem with parental choice?

Forgive me for being a Conservative, but I just don't understand?

I choose what my children eat, read, where they play, and so on. Why not the school?

In principle, what is wrong with that?

(BTW, arguing against something you currently do is a bit beyond the pale)

12:39 am, May 18, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Parental choice is a myth though isn't it? It's not like a normal marketplace where you have a choice of, say, computers to buy but - crucially - have the choice not to buy any of them at all. Educating your child is compulsory, therefore the task for any progressive is to make sure ALL schools are equally as good.

And in reality, the choice that the Tories and New Labour eductaion policy have advocated is choice for the school - in selecting its pupils - not for the poor desperate parents stressing themselves senseless over whether their kid will get in. It really doesn't work, and Luke's right to call out Harman.

12:55 am, May 18, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


At the time it happened Harriet wasn't disagreeing with parental choice i.e. there was no hypocrisy involved.

I want people to go to local comprehensives and intend to do the same with my kids.

Blair wants lots of choices and exercised his own right to choose a different type of state school.

Both are consistent positions.

But Harman exercised parental choice but is against other people having the same choices. That puts her in the same league as Diane Abbott.

12:16 pm, May 18, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

I was only being mischievous but as I recall at the time we were in opposition and our policy was to opposed grant maintained schools (I may misremembered) - so I was being reasonable (I was also speaking in favour of a motion that was recommended to be supported by the National Committee for the first and last time in my student politics career!!!)

12:55 pm, May 18, 2007

Anonymous Benedict White said...

E10 Rifle, Why is parental choice a myth? Or rather, need it be a myth?

Schools can't be equaly good, because life is not like that. (Well, they could be if you made them all very bad) some will be better than others in some fields.

The Conservative choice is based on having more pleces than is necessary so that a parent can to some extent shop around.

The current system favous those with enough money to buy into a school catchment area.

1:11 pm, May 18, 2007

Anonymous jdc said...

"At the time it happened Harriet wasn't disagreeing with parental choice i.e. there was no hypocrisy involved."

Interesting. What if she's genuinely changed her mind? Should she take her child out of school and send it back to the one it would otherwise have attended?

1:37 pm, May 18, 2007

Anonymous duncan said...

Tell a lie, I once proposed a motion which committed Labour Students to full employment and the renationalisation of the railways - and it was passed unanimously!

3:50 pm, May 18, 2007


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