We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Let them eat cake

As luck would have it, there is no category called ‘Honking Great Hypocrisies’ so I have had to settle for filing this under ‘Education’ instead.

But that’s appropriate too because this story is nothing if not instructive:

Labour leaders backed Diane Abbott, the Left-wing MP, yesterday over her decision to educate her son privately, days after condemning a Tory MP for saying he would do the same.

Ms Abbott has used her wealth, status and privilege to give her child the best, as is befitting the ruling elite. In fact, Ms Abbott is merely following in the best traditions of Britain’s socialist politicians who have always had a curious and inexplicable penchant for both private education and healthcare (while publicly denouncing both).

Labour MPs were taken by surprise by the news that she had chosen the £10,000-a-year City of London Boys School for her son, by-passing four comprehensives in Hackney and Stoke Newington, the constituency she represents.

In the past Miss Abbott has criticised the Prime Minister, for rejecting schools in Islington and sending his sons to the London Oratory School in Fulham, and Harriet Harman, the Solicitor General, for choosing a grammar school outside her constituency. She once said of Miss Harman: “She made the Labour Party look as if we do one thing and say another.”

Now where would anyone get that crazy, zany idea?

18 comments to Let them eat cake

  • steph

    It is to her credit that she has not abandoned her responsipility twords her own children, though it would be nice if she was less of a double talker.

  • Guy Herbert

    People do change their views and are entitled to. Otherwise we might as well all give up arguing for our own ideas.

    I rather like the woman. She obfucates much less than the average pol, never mind the average Labour pol. And she seems to be improving with age (and perhaps the realisation that New Labour has no interest in potentially honest people).

    Does anyone know Ms Abbott’s current views on educational selection and grammar schools, such as the one she attended?

  • Tony H

    I’m glad Guy Herbert says he likes Abbott, because I do too, albeit reluctantly. Whenever I hear her talk on radio, I actually get the impression she’s speaking her mind – very rare for any politician – and she does not abjectly toe the party line. Of course, I still loathe most of the policies she espouses – except her new one of sending her son to what has always been a very good school (didn’t Kingsley Amis go there, later writing of it appreciatively?) rather than the possibly grim comprehensive alternatives.

  • Verity

    Another vote for Diane Abbott. I like her too. She seems to be honest (for a politician) and a straight talker and she’ll face down the catcalls. And, yes, Guy Herbert, I also think she has improved with age.

  • Rob Read

    I think it’s great that she turned her back on her local state provided Jade (from Big Bro) Factory.

    ToryGraph comments can be found here…

  • That’s “hypocrisies” and “penchant”.

    Well, at least she didn’t sacrifice her own children on the pyre of bad socialist principles, which would have been worse. Hypocrisy is one of those much-trumpeted (and easily spotted) wrongs that matters a whole lot less than what one is being hypocritical about: it’s often better to do *some* right, than to be 100% congruently evil.

    As abolishing state education would ruin many families and therefore children’s lives, and as supporting private education by tax-funded grants is wrong as well, I don’t think there is any immediate solution to the current situation. Of course only the privileged can afford private schools: they’re expensive. Is this fair on children? Of course not; they must suffer the sins and poverty of their parents. Solutions are a long way off indeed, in my view.

  • Cydonia

    “As abolishing state education would ruin many families and therefore children’s lives”

    I’m gobsmacked. Why do you say this ? You know the arguments as well as anybody! If a libertarian like you thinks this, what hope is there?

  • Errors now corrected. (Thank you, Alice).

    It was late and I was tired. I kan spel proppar, honistly!

    On matters of substance, I am rather less well-disposed towards Ms.Abbott. If she was to come out publicly in favour of the denationalisation of education then I will happily review my opinion (though somehow I doubt that she will).

    In the meantime, she is and remains an active and cognisant member of the political machine which denies millions of people the privilege to which has just helped herself (courtesy of the tithes extracted out of the very same people).

    It is going to take a lot more than a telegenic smile to make me overlook that glaring and rotten injustice.

  • G Cooper

    David Carr writes:

    “It is going to take a lot more than a telegenic smile to make me overlook that glaring and rotten injustice.”

    Quite. I nearly went and ran my head under the tap when I read people with whom I usually agree, praising Ms. Abbott.

    As for taking her rank hypocrisy lightly, I find that remarkable. Had she suddenly become an advocate of private education, parental choice etc, one might smile and accept her conversion to the cause. As it stands she remains, quite literally, a card-carrying member of the statist machine which seeks to deny everyone else what it grabs for its party elite.

  • “As abolishing state education would ruin many families and therefore children’s lives…”

    Alice, do you really mean that?

  • It looks like Alice is in danger of being dragged off to the libertarian re-education camps 😉

  • Verity

    G Cooper – Fear not. For a socialist, Diane Abbott seems to be a realist. She puts up a good fight and she’s robust in her opinions. I see this latest development as the first tottering toward a conversion on the road to Hackney, or wherever it is she represents. She has clearly identified all that is wicked and failing about socialist state education. Thus she has by extension, publicly admitted a massive failing on the part of the Labour Party. It’s a start.

    Who knows where this will lead Ms Abbott? Unlike Tony Blair and the thugs, chancers and sleazeballs in his court who have been cynically exploiting the underclass, I have a feeling Ms Abbott, having seen the failure will become angry on the part of those others who don’t have her advantage. This may lead her in an interesting direction.

  • Verity,

    “Who knows where this will lead Ms Abbott?”

    If past experience of such people is anything to go by, then not so much as an inch.

    Usually they just clam up and refuse to be drawn on the subject (claiming ‘privacy’ for chrissakes!) or if they do open their gobs again they defend themselves by claiming that, ‘of course they would love nothing more than to have their children educated by the state but unless the selfish public coughs up more tax to improve state schools, they are forced to take desperate measures. It’s not their fault.’

    This is accompanied by a phalanx of lockstep support in the lefty press.

    If Ms.Abbott does indeed begin to change her tune I promise you that I will be the first to aplogise and admit that I was wrong.

    Will you do the same if she doesn’t?

  • toolkien

    I just file such hypocrisy under “freedom for me and control for others”. It is the lynch pin of most who want to seize control of government and the repository of force it represents. Such folk want maximum freedom and latitude for themselves but pack the wide-assed masses into holding pens, and of course that means YOU. Sort of reminds me of second tier US media whore Rosie O’Donnell who is against guns unless it is for her body guard. In a nutshell, both conservatives and liberals operate under their own system of value judgements (to which they are entitled) but then co-opt the power of the State to force that system on others, then exempts themselves as the keeper of the Holy Writ.

  • I suspect that David is right here. I doubt very much that we will see anything like an about face on education policy from Diane Abbott. She appears every week on the Andrew Neil Politics Show ‘The Weekly Politics’ on Thursday night, alongside Michael Portillo, where she will be pressed to explain herself. I confidently expect her to come out with one or all of the rationalizations outlined by David above.

    (That is if she dare show her face this week)

  • Verity

    David – will I do the same and apologise? Yes, I absolutely will. Somehow, I can’t imagine Diane Abbott clamming up, but stranger things have happened. I just feel that this has been an eye opener for her. She may, as you suggest, claim that schools don’t get enough tax money, but somehow, I just don’t see her as that kind of whiney coward. She’s no Harriet Harmon or Tony Blair. I may be wrong and if I am, I will definitely apologise.

  • Verity

    Ohhh, I didn’t know she had a regular slot on the box! Yes, then maybe some self-justification will be advanced, although, if Michael Portillo is smart, he won’t push her into a corner and cause her to defend her position too vigorously.

    Toolkin – Regarding Rosie O’Donnell’s armed bodyguards, they probably have orders to shoot out the mirror in case she’s ever in danger of glancing at one.

  • Guy Herbert

    On the programme concerned, Verity, she and Portillo actually share a sofa every week… they strike the balance nicely between cornering and cuddling each other, as such old friends should.

    It’s all very cozy, but Andrew Neill stirs them up nicely. Good value all round, if you like that sort of thing, but plainly a minority taste so hidden at a ridiculous hour in the schedules.