14 October 2013

Some of my best friends are knee-jerk leftists

I wrote a thing for the Guardian blog defending aid in support of private schools in developing countries. Which is very exciting because I've been reading the Guardian every day since I was 16. Some of the comments are a bit colourful, so for the record I feel I should burnish my lefty credentials (even though this feels really lame as it's exactly the kind of thing that annoys me when the likes of Goodhart and Collier do it before they go on to support mainstream Conservative party opinion).  

But for what it's worth, I started my lefty career when I was 6, when my "Dennis the Menace fan club says no Gulf war" poster made it to the local news. I went campaigning door-to-door for the Labour party when I was 8. I wrote to the Green party asking for a copy of their manifesto when I was 10. When I was 15 I vandalised the Conservative party billboard in my neighbourhood, and volunteered for a local Labour MP when I was 17.

I'm proud of having attended my local comprehensive school in Leeds. I'm proud that my fiercely liberal granddad sent my mum to the local comprehensive school on principle, instead of the more conveniently located selective school. I'm proud of my mum who was a school teacher for 20 years, and my aunt and uncle and grandparents, who all work or worked for the NHS (which yes, I'm also proud of).

I worry a lot about private schools in the UK, and the consequences for social mobility and segregation. 

So I'm not a natural supporter of private schools. But I care about evidence - and my reading of it is that there is a great potential to do good by experimenting with private sector service provision in education in developing countries. (Many other intelligent people, including several colleagues - none of whom are knee-jerk leftists - disagree with me, but thankfully none of them have yet accused me of "plain bullshit", "neo-con mantra", being a Mugabe-apologist, or a "twat.")

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