Nick Clegg claims his son's new school is a comprehensive? That's like calling No 10 an inner-city terrace!

By Peter Hitchens


Almost all scandals have consequences. The law is changed or people are punished. Only one enormous scandal goes on happening again and again, and nothing is ever done about it.

It is the way in which our new elite seek selective education for their own children, while ruthlessly denying it to everyone else. Nicholas Clegg is the latest of these revolting hypocrites, and he too will get away with it.

So have Anthony Blair, Diane Abbott, Harriet Harman and Ruth Kelly, and several others who have never been publicly found out.

This unpunished disgrace has been going on since the political class abolished the grammar schools, a terrible act of vandalism which is still damaging the country every day, 48 years after it began. I cannot understand why the British people have put up with it for so long. 

Hypocrite: Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is sending his son to the Roman Catholic London Oratory

Hypocrite: Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is sending his son to the Roman Catholic London Oratory

You might think the elite did this because they at least thought it would produce better schools. On the contrary, the idea’s inventor, Sir Graham Savage, admitted from the start that it would hold back the ablest children.

He just thought it would be more ‘democratic’. That has always been the point of it, to create a more socialist society, to impose compulsory equality of outcome.

It is a million times more important, in the Left’s armoury, than nationalisation or even taxation. It is Labour’s real Clause Four, never abandoned and now adopted by the Tories and the Lib Dems as well, as their pledge of loyalty to the socialist state they all support.

Why else is it that a perfectly sensible idea – selection by ability – is actually banned by law from our state schools? Imagine if businesses, or the Armed Forces, football, cricket or Olympic teams were also barred by law from choosing on the grounds of ability. Everyone would think it mad. Yet, when the same unhinged rule is applied to schools, all the major parties agree that it should be so, and remain so for ever.

The barmy idea – that egalitarian state education is in some way noble – infects the Tories too. The grimly politically correct Home Secretary, Theresa May, tried to pretend she had a comprehensive schooling, when in fact she went to a private convent school and then to a grammar, which went comprehensive later.

And the Prime Minister and his Education Secretary – quite able to afford school fees – wangle their children into an oversubscribed and distant Church primary. This is supposed to make them look like men of the people. In fact all they have done is to deprive some poor families of places at one of the few genuinely good state schools in the area. How is that noble, exactly?

The same is true of Mr Clegg, who last week more or less got away with announcing that he would be sending his son to the London Oratory, a Roman Catholic school which is a comprehensive school much in the way that 10 Downing Street is an inner-city terrace house.

Being hugely oversubscribed, and having a religious character, the Oratory is really a selective school. It has to be. But the selection is subtle and hard to penetrate. Most who are rejected will never really know why others were preferred to them. And so it benefits the well-off, the influential and (it seems) the politically well-connected.

The same is true of several London schools favoured by the Left-wing elite, superb, unofficially selective academies with tiny catchment areas that most people cannot possibly afford  to live in. Some of the smuggest leftist power couples in this country have spent fortunes buying their way into these catchment areas, while pretending that they have not bought privilege for their young.

Did Mr Clegg’s spin doctors soften us  up for this shabby moment? You decide. We were told that  Mr Clegg was thinking of schooling his children privately, nowadays regarded as a terrible sin.
So, when he didn’t do that, it was reported as a sort of anti-climax. It is nothing of the sort. It is a contemptuous smack in the face for tens of thousands of families who have to take what they are jolly well given, a bog-standard comprehensive which will offer their children no way up.

I lived for a while in the Soviet Union, an officially equal society. It had exactly the same system we now have – official equality and secret elite privilege. In the end, everyone became so disgusted by this arrangement that they refused to tolerate it any more. Why do we continue to stomach it?

We promise freedom – and deliver chaos

Two years ago, Syria was an imperfect but reasonably happy place. Most people got on with their neighbours, went to work, raised their children and – almost uniquely in the Middle East – there was harmony among rival religious groups.

Now it is a war-ravaged hell, in which blameless people have been bankrupted, had their homes destroyed and been forced to become refugees. The red-eyed monster of religious hatred has been awakened  and stalks the streets and villages doing  dreadful crimes, which will of course be avenged with new crimes.

We, that is to say the British Government, helped to achieve this filthy thing. I suspect we did it because we expect some sort  of favours in return from the fanatical  despots who run Saudi Arabia, and who hate the Damascus government for being the wrong sort of Muslims.

Now the abject William Hague plans to make it even worse by stepping up our supplies to the rebels. Mr Hague’s pitiful performance in government is so hard to bear precisely because he is an intelligent and informed person who ought to know better.

But once again, are there no MPs willing to defy the official line, to say that, however bad the Assad government may be, war and chaos are worse for the Syrian people, and that we cannot possibly claim to be the friends of freedom in the Arab world if we ally ourselves with the Saudis?

Speak now, please, before it grows any worse.

A big dose of drug firm hype

In a way it is a surprise that there are not more Hollywood films about ‘antidepressant’ drugs, a huge revolution in American and European medicine which has changed the way people think and behave, and which is one of the most lucrative industries in human history.

Missing the point: Actress Rooney Mara in the new film Side Effects

Missing the point: Actress Rooney Mara in the new film Side Effects

Now comes Side Effects, which at first seems to be sceptical about these controversial pills and their, er,  side effects. But (plot spoiler here) the drugs end up  being vindicated and the doubters end up looking silly.  How interesting. How did that happen?

You might like to know that The New York Times wrote back in January: ‘From the beginning, Side Effects was constructed to avoid potential conflicts with the giant companies that make and sell real drugs.’

The writer of the script, Scott Burns, told the NYT: ‘I spent more time on the phone with my lawyer on this than on all my other movies combined.’ I can believe that.

If drug ‘addicts’ can give up their drugs by using self-control, then ‘addiction’ doesn’t exist. They can stop if they want to. Obvious, isn’t it? Not to my old foe Russell Brand, now pontificating grandly on the subject in the Spectator, the Guardian and the Sun. This alleged comedian, in his designer rags, is fast becoming the voice of the Establishment. Perhaps the Tory Party – in its endless quest to be fashionable – could skip another generation, and make him its next leader.


Sorry we are unable to accept comments for legal reasons.