Ed Miliband has lost my vote if he kowtows to private training

It is so sad, so disappointing. I had hoped that with Ed Miliband as leader, the Labour party would put its weight firmly behind the state schooling program, and seek out to restore the social damage caused by surviving discriminatory practices in the personal sector. We all know they are there, and several of us wish they would go. Time was when Labour advocated removing the anomalous and archaic tax status of personal colleges, much more suited to the days of Trollope’s Barchester than to the 21st century, but we hear nothing of that now. The political and legal establishments, which populate these schools with their personal offspring, are dead set against it. And the rest of us seem to be to have fallen meekly in line behind them. Witness the all-also-modest proposals of Tristram Hunt.

The Miliband brothers had been educated in north London at Haverstock comprehensive, a college that became a success via a concerted hard work by parents, neighbourhood, educating personnel and, if I remember rightly, the campaigning assistance of Ben Whitaker, Labour MP for Hampstead in the 1960s. Absolutely, I imagined, Haverstock Ed of all folks would know that one of the threats to the improvement and continuing excellence of state schooling lies in competition from unfairly privileged independent colleges, which lure pupils with delivers of ever better swimming pools and cricket pitches.

There would seem to be no upper limit to what wealthy parents are prepared to commit for those added advantages and the unspoken and unmentionable sense of superiority that comes with them. Andrew Halls, head of the independent King’s School School in south-west London, complained this week of the “distasteful competition” for “ludicrously extravagant facilities”, which he described as an “arms race”. Educational expenditure, like the price of property, is out of hand. And these who cannot or will not pay are not competing on a degree cricket pitch.

Society is increasing much more unequal and much more divided, and in theory most of us deplore this. So why can’t we tackle a single of the most blatant brings about of inequality, an inequality that commences in our major many years? You can Sure Commence as many disadvantaged children as you like, but the entrenched privileges of young children in prep colleges and independent secondaries will carry on to poison the fountain of expertise.

We hear a whole lot about “draining the swamp” that breeds terrorism, and that is not my sort of language, but it does suggest to me that the swamp we genuinely require to drain is the swamp of entitlement. That is in which the language of class warfare breeds. Jokes and sneers about white vans, plebs, bigots, Mr Plod, the Bullingdon Club and bacon sandwiches, and the press’s exploitative delight in associated faux pas, are the scum that rises to the best of a society that would seem unable to rid itself of a culture of class deference. Personally, I locate calling a person Mr Plod just as offensive as calling somebody a pleb. It is exciting, of course, to go over, as we all did, no matter whether “pleb” is far more most likely to be an upper-class or a proletarian insult. (I tend to believe the latter, but so what?) And both way, what a trivial topic to expense folks their jobs, and on which to invest millions of lbs in legal costs and miles and miles in column inches. We must be mad.

Haverstock school in the 1970s
Haverstock school, in which the Miliband brothers studied, pictured in the 1970s

Who understands precisely how considerably income the abolition of that poisonous charitable standing would carry to the exchequer. I really do not care. It does not matter whether it would be a lot more or much less than the bedroom tax, or the abolition of tax breaks on purchase-to-let (which seem to be, ingeniously, to have replaced what utilized to be the incentive identified as 2nd home loan tax relief). Others greater outfitted than me can do these sums. It is the principle that counts. Some troubles are not quantifiable in financial terms, and correct equality of educational possibility is one particular of them. We all spend the price tag of individuals high-priced educations, even these who seem to be to benefit from them. We shell out for them in our white vans and our Daimlers, in our subservience and our anger, in our hatreds and resentments.

The template of the public school need to be scrapped, not slavishly imitated by the state sector. The short trousers of the forlorn minor rich boys evoked by Ian Jack in his superb write-up in the Guardian final week may have been phased out, but other oddities survive, and some are being newly launched.

I was stunned to read through that the headmaster of Mossbourne Academy, an oversubscribed inner-city extensive, “has ambitions for Mossbourne to become the initial state school to win at the Henley regatta”, as “we’re naturally hunting at what the elite private schools are carrying out and carrying out our ideal to replicate that. We want our students to have the identical opportunities”. Henley versus Hackney.

It is no doubt my limitation that the very word “Henley” appears redolent of a bygone Edwardian era, and great luck to the rowing boys and rowing women of Hackney. But it’s a mad globe the planet of Harry Potter, of college dorms and tuck boxes, of feasts and bullies, of banqueting halls and wizards, of fags and monitors and property colours and arcane slang.

Please, Ed, believe once more. I really feel bereft with no anyone for whom I can vote. I desired to vote for you, and for the future. But I actually can’t vote to twin myself with Harry Potter.

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