Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mother Kelly

Today's headline, tomorrow's lining for the budgie cage - and frankly, it deserves no better.

Well done to the Daily Mail for exposing the rank hypocrisy of a cabinet minister by deciding to do the right thing by her child instead of sacrificing their future for her career prospects. You really can't win if you are a woman in the Mail - you are supposed to have a high-flying career, but you are berated if you can't also be a perfect mum.

Five Live Drive were trying to push the Chief Whip as to why Ruth Kelly hadn't insisted that the LEA pay for the place, if it was so key to her child's education. It isn't unusual for LEAs to fund private placements for children on a case-by-case basis - Tim Brighouse was reminded that when he ran the Education Department in Birmingham, £60,000 was spent on one child - and I believe some £500 million is spent this way across the country to obtain specialist provision that the state cannot deliver. Of course, if she had pushed the LEA to financially support the move, then the headline would have been even more damaging - 'Taxpayers fund Labour Minister's Private Schooling.' The fact that she has plans to return her child to the state sector for secondary schooling and intends her other children to remain in state education indicates that she is as committed to that principle as everyone else in the party.

I don't blame Ruth Kelly for making that choice, just as I don't criticise those who use private medicine. As long as they contribute towards the public sector through their taxes, I'm happy for them to spend their excess cash as they see fit.

I don't want to take away peoples' rights to choose a private hospital or school.

What I want is for them not to need to make that choice in the first place, because the quality of the public system is so high. A good education isn't a privilege, it is a right that should be available to all.


Clifford said...

I don't care where she sends her child, provided she resigns as a cabinet minister. Then she can challenge government education policy from the backbenches. Be a bit more difficult to afford the £15,000 per annum but I don't suppose that entered into her calculations.

Simon said...

I don't want to take away peoples' rights to choose a private hospital or school.

Neither do I. I do, however, expect members of the cabinet to set an example of their commitment to the public health and education systems they have spent the last ten years administrating. If they don't do that, fine, but don't expect me to bloody vote for them.

Anonymous said...

Your slow on news this week!

Praguetory said...

Lynne Jones criticised Ruth Kelly very strongly, but as you probably already know, she is in her swansong. Never mind Axford, what about the high profile Labour departures from the local political scene?