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Mark O'Brien

I'm used to the argument usually spouted by hypocritical left-wing politicians: that private education and medical care takes much-needed resources away from the State system. But there is usually little time for the reverse of that argument: the State system was always intended as a safety net, be it in social security, public services, housing and pensions. If people have the money to use better services, then it is more wrong of them to use the services which are intended for those less affluent than wealthy politicians! I think I've only ever heard one politician say that, and she was Margaret Thatcher, chastising ministers for using the public sector. It's an argument that we apparently nasty, evil, mean-spirited Tories don't put out into play enough.

Selsdon Man

Philosophically, I agree with Mark.

Tactically, it surely helps if Ministers (or Shadow Ministers) who have responsibility for public services have day to day experience of using them. It enhances credibility with the public and the media - Ministers or Shadow Ministers have to suffer like the public.

Remember, however, that Theresa May is responsible for family policy but has no children.
I have seen no hostile political or media comment on that. So it may depend on the ability of the politician to demonstrate that they understand the problems that the public faces. That is often down to manner and language. Too many of our team are poor communicators on television - and that includes some of the young modernisers.

Tom Ainsworth

I do not see that there is any contradiction between a minister wanting to ensure the best state provision of education possible (given available resources) and simultaneously wanting to provide his own child with the best education he can afford, which is very likely to be in the private sector. Would it not be rather dispicable for said minister to prioritize his own career above the child's best interests?

Selsdon Man

Tom, I agree with you in principle but the left-wing media will always target such a Minister. Clever strategy and tactics are as important as the right policies. I realise that is expediency but it is a necessary evil for those who wish to get elected and remain in office. Ouch! That hurt!

Oliver McCarthy

'Remember, however, that Theresa May is responsible for family policy but has no children.
I have seen no hostile political or media comment on that. So it may depend on the ability of the politician to demonstrate that they understand the problems that the public faces.'

You cannot really be serious!

If the Tories even had a pro-family policy it would be a start.

As it happens, Pollard is quite right. Unless the Tories change, the Socialists will be able to win as many elections as they like just so long as they can remember the magic words 'Tack-scuts' and 'Horse-spittle-sons-cools'. Simple really!


How difficult would it be for a Tory MP to actually send their child to his/her constituency state school? I suspect quite easy, most Conservative MP's seem able to live in comfortable areas where they would have an excellent state school nearby.

I can understand the thinking that rather than just a plain commitment to sending their child to the state school in whose catchment area they happen to live should not the commitment be to send their children to the state school with the poorest record within their constituency as I'm sure this would quickly focus attention on significant improvements to teaching staff and quality for all and an improved exclusion policy.

Though I don’t sent my children to a private school, parents paying for private education don’t bother me, in fact those parents that pay when they struggle to afford it I feel very sorry for especially if it because their local state school has serious behavioral problems and very low academic results. Private schooling generally is believed to be an elite choice – wanting your child to mix with the same sort – rather than just an academic argument because people would say the curriculum is the same (if it isn’t then it should be for the brightest streams in Comprehensive education). I’ve read that there is some evidence that talented academic students from the state sector perform better once at University than their privately educated peers.

The Conservative Turnaround school policy discussed by Tim Collins was superb, no school should have to take it’s fair share of disruptive pupils, disruptive pupils should be removed from the usual system and educated in smaller units with specialist teaching staff until their behaviour improves enough to return to larger class sizes even if a year below their actual age group to catch up. Perhaps primary schools should hold on to children not making the basic grade targets for a further year and incorporate them in the next yearly cohort moving to High School so they are working at a better pace.


If MP’s of any party were forced to get in the queue for health treatment at the hospital with the longest waiting list in their constituency I think they would concentrate on sorting that out.

People pay for private medical because they can’t rely solely on the NHS to provide the treatment and aftercare that they want. What’s wrong with wanting to pay for a private room at hospital to sleep alone rather than in a large mixed sex ward, and ordering a more expensive meal that they also pay for if they don’t want bog standard. If private medical insurance was cancelled and people flooded back to the NHS would it survive with the same level of taxation?

Simon C

Late night entry from my training course.

Glad that Pollard has got onto the site & that he recognises that he & people of his views should (at the very least) be actively considering a Conservative vote.

His suggestion that all Conservative front benchers should pledge themselves to use state-provided public services is superficially attractive. But it is not consistent with the direction the party needs to take.

The state's true role is funder, not provider. If we want to prise open public service provision, so that the independent and voluntary sectors can also provide services, we need to get away from the idea that only state-provided services are morally good. That's where Pollard's idea falls down.

It also seems to similar to Gummer feeding his daughter BSE-free burgers.


What a load of utter codswallop from Stephen Pollard. We might as well say that Labour MPs should give away their wealth, or that in order to be Minister of Defence an MP must have served in the front line. I seem to remember Mao Tse Tung had a similar idea a few years back!


I don't think that any MP should be forced or coerced to use the state schools, but neither should they advocate that children of low earners who can't afford to live nearer to a well disciplined school should be forced to attend their local sink school which is exactly what is happening.

The problem is that most people believe it's a case of 'do as I say not do as I do'. How on earth to you think the Conservative party is going to connect with Middle England again, and the swing voters that matter so much to any party that is going to win the next election, when you are this far removed from their aspirations, hopes and dreams.

A voucher and choice is no use if you haven't got the transport or the money to pay for expensive bus fares (if indeed there are buses to better or specialist schools). The Labour Party have made this mistake and people don't want more undeliverable promises. What makes you think that someone earning £14,000 pa is happy for their child to go to school with children that disrupt classes and go to school armed attacking their teachers so that they leave and one teacher after another teaches them within the same school year. One should be careful not to confuse poor education with a poor educational environment.

The conservative party is there... to ensure that school discipline is restored, turnaround (nuture) schools should be invested in immediately with the best social workers, child therapists and behavioural specialists to reintroduce children not only back into school but back into their communities. Put teeth into Ofsted, train or remove poor teachers who are failing and put discipline back into the classroom and the people will support this and the party that delivers on it.

Guido Fawkes

Bet Pollard has private health insurance...

Oberon Houston

Considering the heavy duplcity involved in most of the posts on this issue, I'm not in the least surprised that we have a growing issue of 'Trust' among the electorate. At least a clause IV moment would reassure them, a bit. But the way things are going - not much - I suspect.

When are we going to realise that we have lost the arguement on this? How many defeats will it take I wonder, looks like four to me. Just like Labour then.

Selsdon Man

What duplicity, Oberon? Name names!

Mr Pollard ought to declare his interests. He gave evidence in support of Big Pharma (see Global Growth web site) to the US Congress. The Brussels think tank that he works for, the Centre for the New Europe, receives considerable funding from Big Pharma.

Pollard supports Big Pharma's attempt to restrict pharamceutical free trade (or parallel trading as he calls it). Parallel trade saves the NHS millions each year.

Big Pharma naturally wants to see the NHS monopoly broken. I do too but for philosophical rather than financial reasons.


I looked up duplicity as I've never been in a group of people accused of such a thing before - it said deception - who is deceiving who and how are they? I'm not used to such grandiloquent language.

And who is 'them' as in 'At least a clause IV moment would reassure them'.

Oberon Houston

It was the "I would like to privatise the NHS, but lets not tell the public that" king of line I was getting at.

'grandiloquent' is a strange word to pick when telling us that you aren't used to fancy language!

... Anyway, I was just meaning that we still have an issue of trust with the electorate and the suspect us of being duplicitous (lying about our intensions).

Mark O'Brien

Oberon, I disagree that those of us who do want to privatise the NHS are trying to hide the fact. Yes, when speaking to a non-Conservative audience I put it in nicer words, but if I didn't then a lot of Conservatives themselves would say that we won't get anywhere without explaining the benefits of privatisation. You don't shout "Stinking Fish" to try and sell a fillet of haddock!!

What I think is more duplicitous is the very idea of this Clause IV moment. Pollard is arguing that if senior Conservatives use the public services then we've got more of a right to be listened to when arguing for reform. Isn't it more deceitful to do something cosmetic and use state education or healthcare just to look good, whilst still, come the crunch, arguing for some kind of privatisation?


Yes, grandiloquent was quite good wasn't it - I found it when I was looking up another more common word and thought I'd try it out as you're so proper. Was it not used in the right context?

Now I've been introduced to duplicitous I'm sure I'll use it again - my friends also tell me it's more commonly termed two-faced. I'm getting a truly great English education from the commentators on this website, something my school teachers never quite accommodated.

And yes Mark you are quite correct it would be cosmetic and people (or the them) would notice!

Oberon Houston

But what you are talking about Mark, me ol' China, is actually your views on policy, which is grand, but it is not Conservative Party policy and you need to make sure people know that. Otherwise they think Conservative Party policy is Mark's policy and then we would all get confused.

Now I'm confused.

Right - now 'Mr a-tracy', if your interested in words, here is another one - ubiquitous. And the decided lack of it in this post. Sorry.

Mark O'Brien

Oberon, I understand that what I think is different to what the party thinks, but the rules are still the same. If we're trying to appeal to people, copying them in some way is very patronising. If we want to reform the public services, Tory MPs should not try to look good by sending their child to a state school (unless, of course, that is what they would do if they were normal citizens). Nobody would recommend to the next leader that he should paint his face black for a day to try to win the votes of ethnic minorities. That kind of behaviour is patronising if you carry it off, and just offensive if you don't.

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