Bromley Tories’ Educational Faux Pas
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 18th August, 2009
Bromley Conservatives have never been scared of ploughing their own furrow. It was they who scuppered Ken Livingstone’s ‘Fares Fair’ scheme, for example. And when I was an opposition councillor in the borough in the late 1980s, some of the ruling party out-Thatchered Mrs Thatcher. Now they have put the cat among the pigeons once again, this time by suggesting that Bromley borough council might give financial help to the parents of children in private education who are finding it hard to come up with the school fees, because of losing their job or other negative effects of the financial downturn. There have been understandable — and correct — rumblings of protest from Liberal Democrats in the borough, amongst others. I share the general unease felt by many in this country that private education can deliver a better start to life for children than the state sector. But that unease becomes something much stronger when the suggestion is made that the tax-paying public at large should be expected to subsidise this privilege. Not surprisingly, in the face of negative reactions, the Council leader, Stephen Carr, has insisted that there are no concrete plans to pursue the proposal.
Someone said to me yesterday that the next general election is there for the Conservatives to lose, in other words, that they will win comfortably unless they do something seriously silly in the meantime. Coming on top of the trashing of the NHS by Daniel Hannan MEP and some of his Westminster colleagues, the Bromley Tories’ line on public money for private schoolkids is a warning to David Cameron that losing is indeed a possibility, if the party riles the electorate too much.