I'm not a hypocrite, claims left-wing Corbyn ally Shami Chakrabarti who opposes grammars despite sending her son to £18,000-a-year selective school and lives in a £2.5m house
- Chakrabarti, appointed as Corbyn's new shadow attorney general, dismisses claims she's a hypocrite
- Says she's simply 'trying to do her best' for her child by enrolling him at one of Britain's top private schools
- Denies this means that she's guilty of conflict of interest by opposing plans to give poor children chance to benefit from selection in state sector
Shami Chakrabarti denied she was a hypocrite today for opposing the expansion of state grammars while paying for her son to attend a selective school.
The new shadow attorney general claimed she was simply ‘trying to do her best’ for her child by enrolling him at one of Britain’s top private schools.
But she insisted there was no conflict between this and the fact she was campaigning to prevent children whose parents cannot afford expensive private fees from benefiting from selection in the state sector.
Shami Chakrabarti (pictured on ITV's Peston on Sunday today) denied she was a hypocrite today for opposing the expansion of state grammars while paying for her son to attend a selective school
The peer admitted she led a ‘charmed and privileged life’, and said that just because she lived in a 'nice big house' and ate ‘nice food’, it did not mean she was a hypocrite because her neighbours went to food banks.
It emerged last week that Baroness Chakrabarti’s son won a place at the £18,000-a-year Dulwich College in south London after sitting a tough entrance exam.
Critics say it shows she believed selective education is fine for those who can pay for it – but not for parents who cannot afford it.
Shami Chakrabarti said admitted she led a ‘charmed and privileged life’, and said that just because she lived in a 'nice big house' (pictured, south London) and ate ‘nice food’, it did not mean she was a hypocrite because her neighbours went to food banks
The new shadow attorney general claimed she was simply ‘trying to do her best’ for her child by enrolling him at one of Britain’s top private schools - Dulwich College in south east London (pictured)
The former head of civil rights organisation Liberty told ITV’s Peston on Sunday that she opposed grammar schools because they enforce ‘segregation’.
‘I have real concerns about grammar schools,’ she said.
‘In my lifetime, I have met too many people, including incredibly bright, successful people, who carry that scar of failing the 11-plus, and that segregation in schooling.’
When it was put to her she could be branded a hypocrite because of her stance, the Labour peer said: ‘I live a charmed and privileged life, much more now than I ever did when I was a child, but people on the left have often had charmed and privileged lives.
‘I live in a nice big house, and eat nice food, and my neighbours are homeless, and go to food banks.
The new shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti (pictured on ITV's Peston on Sunday show today) claimed she was simply ‘trying to do her best’ for her child by enrolling him at one of Britain’s top private schools
Baroness Shami Chakrabarti and her ex-husband, Oxford-educated lawyer Martyn Hopper
‘Des that make me a hypocrite, or does it make me someone who is trying to do best, not just for my own family, but for other people's families too?
‘And this thing about selection – if you've got money you will always be all right. If you don't have money in this country you are increasingly not all right, and that is why I have joined the Labour Party.’
When it was suggested that children from middle class homes attending state schools helps raise standards, she said: ‘I understand that, and I am not going to get into the personal stuff because there is a child in this world who did not choose to be Shami Chakrabarti's child, so I'm afraid I'm going to leave it at that.’
Lady Chakrabarti reportedly lives in a £2.5million grade II listed property near the Imperial War museum in Lambeth, south London.
Shami Chakrabarti (pictured on ITV's Peston on Sunday show today) insisted there was no conflict between this and the fact she was campaigning to prevent children whose parents cannot afford expensive private fees from benefiting from selection in the state sector
Education Secretary Justine Greening defended the push for new grammar schools, insisting they could ‘turbo-charge’ the learning opportunities of disadvantaged children.
Speaking on the same programme, Miss Greening said the move was about giving parents more choice.
She said poorer children who went to grammar schools progressed twice as fast at grammars as children from wealthier backgrounds.
‘Grammars for them are closing the attainment gap, so this is also about saying how can we make sure grammar schools are more open for those disadvantaged children, so that they can really turbo-charge their education,’ she said.
But she refused to be drawn on the number of new grammars, saying this was up to local communities to decide.
She added that grammar places were hugely oversubscribed in areas of the country that had them.
Miss Greening also said this ‘was absolutely not about a return to the 11-plus’ system, with children potentially able to enter selective schools at lots of different ages.
Baroness Chakrabarti’s nomination to the peerage in August was controversial because she had recently written a report about anti-Semitism in the Labour party which was dismissed as a whitewash by Jewish groups.
Dulwich College has about 1,500 pupils, and annual fees start at more than £18,000 for day pupils and £37,000 for boarders.
Boys wishing to enter the school, which was founded in 1619, have to sit a highly competitive entrance exam.
Shami Cakrabarti was controversially made a peer by close ally Jeremy Corbyn
Labour said it was Baroness Chakrabarti's former husband Martyn Hopper, a lawyer with the London firm Linklaters, who took the decision to send their son to a private school.
Last month Labour was accused of ‘despicable’ hypocrisy for opposing selection, even though both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell benefited from a grammar school education.
Diane Abbott, the shadow health secretary, sent her son to City of London boys' school; and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry sent two of her three children to a selective school.
Seumas Milne, Corbyn's most senior aide, sent his son and daughter to grammar schools.
The Labour leader, who himself attended a prep school, reportedly divorced his second wife, Claudia Bracchitta, in part over her decision to send their son to a grammar school rather than the local comprehensive.
Last month Tory MP Nigel Evans said: ‘The Labour Party is stuffed to the rafters with people who have benefitted from a grammar school education and who now wish to deny that form of education to a new generation of young people.’
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