Shami Chakrabarti is a hypocrite for sending her kids to private school, and this left-wing hypocrisy over education will destroy the Labour party.
The likes of Diane Abbott and Shami Chakrabarti, and they're not the only ones, always have an excuse. Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, defending her decision in 2003 to send her son to the private City of London School, agreed that sending her child to the £10,000-a-year school was "indefensible". However, she argued "I had to choose between my reputation as a politician and my son".
Similarly, Shami Chakrabarti, human rights lawyer and new Shadow Attorney General in Corbyn's makeshift shadow cabinet, was asked by Robert Peston on ITV last Sunday whether sending her son to the £18,000 Dulwich College School in South London made her a hypocrite, especially given her opposition to state grammar schools. Her response was that she was "trying to do her best" for her child. As I said, there's always an excuse.
When wealthy, privileged left-wing people like Chakrabarti and Abbott send their kids private and opt out of the state sector, they're saying several things. One, that their principles don't mean a thing, and when exposed to the slightest bit of reality, i.e. a slightly rough local comp, they disappear. Two, equality is for poor kids, and when push came to shove, they'll put their own interests and those of their kids ahead of their principles.
Some might argue that this is the natural thing to do. In which case, why not opt out of the NHS? Why pay your taxes? If your socialism ends at your front door, it means nothing. It's hollow. There was a look of self-pity in Shami's eyes as she desperately looked for an escape from the world's least accusatory interviewer, the human water vole Robert Peston. "Oh woah is me," she seemed to be saying. "I wish I could send my child to the local comprehensive. But, the thing is, he's not like other kids. He's Shami Chakrabarti's son".
What this all comes down to is arrogance. The hubris it must take to sit on weekend TV and condemn segregation in education in one breath and say that you have the right to do what you want if it's best for your family is so immense it makes your head spin. What you're really saying, deep down, is that children at comprehensives aren't as good as kids at private schools. And for a Labour politician, that comes down to saying that you don't believe the majority of your voters are fit to share a building with your precious snowflake.
The comprehensive v grammar v private school debate is one that always gets me down. As someone who went to a comprehensive and later the University of Oxford, I found that only half of my year at my college came from the 93% of state educated pupils in Britain, and of those the vast majority went to grammar schools. Education in Britain is always framed in aspirational terms. People want to move up from their parents, and sending your child to a school with a Latin motto and a chapel is a sign that you've "made it", that you've booked your little'un a one way ticket to the British establishment.
This ignores the fact that a study by the University of Cambridge showed kids from state schools did better than their private school counterparts at Russell Group universities, with three state school pupils for every two private who enter with an A* at A level getting a first class degree. Put simply, it doesn't matter if at school you're sat next to a Jemima or a Darren, if you work hard and you want to learn, odds are you'll do well anywhere.
This isn't a defence of grammar schools either. They stoke more divisions than private schools. Near where I live in South London are two very successful state grammar schools, a boys' school and girls' counterpart. Both consistently come out near the top of school league tables. Yet this isn't a bastion of meritocracy. The vast majority of kids who go there have received private tuition in order to pass the 11-plus, often from as early as seven. How can any system that rewards parents who can fork out thousands in private tutor fees be seen as at all egalitarian?
If, as Theresa May has hinted, there will be a return to some form of state segregation, the supporters of this throwback move should remember that for every Melvin Bragg and Alan Rickman, bright working-class students who got opportunities through grammar schools, there were thousands who were failed by the system, like my dad, who was effectively written-off at eleven after failing an arbitrary exam.
Hypocrites like Chakrabarti and Abbott will always be able to justify their double-standards. Sometimes it's on racial grounds, arguing that children with a certain skin colour are let down by the state system, ignoring the fact that white working-class boys are now the lowest-achieving demographic in Britain. They may say they're simply looking out for their kids, using their privilege. But what is most disheartening for me, and like-minded lefties, is when we look to fight the Tories, and see some of our players switched teams at half-time.Suggest a correction