Do as I say, not as I do

The British Labour party opposes private education but a prominent Labour politician sent her son to a private school. It reminds me of Barbara Castle in the Wilson Labour government. She said it was obscene to carve your way to a hospital bed with a chequebook but when her son got sick she sent him to a private hospital -- under an assumed name

Brief background on the Diane Abbott story here. She is a black British Leftist politician and something of a loose cannon

The black Labour MP accused of racism after claiming that white people ‘love to divide and rule’ sent her son to be privately educated – in a former British colony.

Diane Abbott caused outrage last week after she used Twitter to comment on the Stephen Lawrence murder trial, saying: ‘White people love playing divide and rule. We should not play their game,’ and referring to ‘tactics as old as colonialism’.

Now it has been revealed that when Left-winger Ms Abbott’s son was 16, she shunned the British education system in favour of sending him to a fee-paying school in Ghana, a country run by the British as the Gold Coast Colony between 1874 and 1957.

James Abbott, now 20, was sent to study in the sixth form of the £6,000-a-year SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College in Tema, Ghana, which boasts facilities such as a ‘near-Olympic-sized pool’ and declares that its students ‘graduate with an internationally recognised baccalaureate and are then able to study at almost any university in the world’. It worked for Mr Abbott – he is now a student at Cambridge University.

The college, established in 1990, also says in its promotional literature that it ‘seeks to focus pupils’ attention on the development of Africa in order to instil a sense of social responsibility and commitment to the continent’.

Ms Abbott was humiliated last week when her party leader, Ed Miliband, rang her while she was being interviewed on television and ordered her to retract her comments.

‘Divide and rule’ was a central strategy of British imperial policy, under which different ethnic groups – including those in Ghana – were encouraged to use up their energies fighting among themselves, rather than plotting to overthrow their colonial masters.

It is not the first time Ms Abbott’s decisions over her son’s schooling have raised eyebrows.

When she was running for the Labour leadership in 2010 she was attacked for sending James to the £13,000-a-year City of London School, despite her party’s opposition to private education.

She explained: ‘I knew what could happen if my son went to the wrong school and got in with the wrong crowd. ‘They are subjected to peer pressure and when that happens it’s very hard for a mother to save her son. Once a black boy is lost to the world of gangs it’s very hard to get them back.’ She added, in an interview with BBC pundit Andrew Neil: ‘West Indian mums will go to the wall for their children.’

Mr Neil hit back by demanding: ‘So black mums love their kids more than white mums, do they?’ Ms Abbott responded: ‘I have said everything I am going to say about where I send my son to school.’

James Abbott himself once defended the decision, insisting that his mother was only following his own wishes.

‘She’s not a hypocrite, she just put what I wanted first instead of what people thought,’ he said, adding that he had wanted to go private rather than attend one of the comprehensives in Ms Abbott’s Hackney constituency. ‘It’s a good school. The facilities, the resources and the teachers seem better than the state school,’ he said.

Community leaders complain that black pupils are frequently failed by the state system. Nearly three-quarters of black boys in London leave school without managing to achieve five GCSE passes at grade C.

When James took his GCSEs at the City of London School four years ago, he earned 11 A* grades.

Ms Abbott married James’s father, architect Richard Thompson, in 1991, but they divorced two years later.


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