Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ruth Kelly: everything that's wrong with New Labour

I'm simply amazed at the easy ride that cabinet minister Ruth Kelly has been given over her decision to pull her son out of a local state school and put him into a £15,000 per year private boarding school. It seems that a lot of people (including Tory-boy David Cameron) sympathise with her because the son has "substantial learning difficulties" (in fact, dyslexia). Another mother of a child with "learning difficulties" comments here.

If Kelly had simply said something like "I know it goes against all my principles as a Labour Party member to buy a private education for my son, but my concern for his well-being and the fact that the state sector cannot cater adequately for his needs, overrides matters of ideology", people like me would at least have had some human sympathy for her. But she didn't: instead she put out a weaseling, disingenuous (OK: I mean DISHONEST) statement suggesting that it is quite common for pupils with learning difficulties to be placed into private education by their local education authorities. This is bollocks! As Fiona Miller (Alistair Campbell's partner, incidentally!) comments in the Guardian of January 9, 2007): "Actually, it's pretty unusual for primary school-aged children with special needs/dyslexia to have a couple of years in a large country house in the home counties enjoying one-on-one tuition and the use of a swimming pool, tennis courts and music rooms".

Of course, we don't begrudge Ruth Kelly's son that sort of treatment: we just say (unlike Kelly) that all children with learning difficulties should have access to such treatment - provided by the state.

Kelly's hypocrisy, combined with her dishonesty and her evident contempt for the local authority where she lives (Tower Hamlets), who insist that they provide "high quality education for all learners, including those with special needs" (Morning Star January 9, 2007), can only leave ordinary people with the impression that Government ministers like Kelly (and, of course, Blair - who sent his son to a highly-selective Catholic grammer school, albeit within the state sector), are special, privileged people who demand higher standards for themselves and their families, than they do for the working class. And that's true, isn't it? And it's also why working class people are fed up with New Labour, and politics as a whole. Thanks Blair and Kelly: you two sum up everything that's wrong with New Labour


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