Saturday, March 15, 2008

Boris dumps on London Schools

It seems that meanie Boris Johnson is in some sort of competition with his alter ego (emphasis on ego) George Galloway for who can make the most gross and insensitive comments of the week!

Check out the latest gaff by Boris in this lift from

Boris Johnson Islington schools insult condemned by Islington MP and Ken Livingstone.

An insult by Boris Johnson against state schools in the London borough of Islington has been condemned by Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone's campaign for Mayor.

The Times today quotes Boris Johnson as saying he 'extracted' his children from schools in Islington.The Times reports:'He gives money to three of our most prestigious private schools - two of them in London - in the form of school fees.

His four children started at their local state primary but when secondary loomed,"because we live in Islington, I extracted them". Only one remains there. "I have no embarrassment about it whatever," he says, but at the same time he talks passionately about the problems caused by middle-class flight from state education.

'A spokesperson for the Ken Livingstone campaign said:"Boris Johnson can decide where he chooses to send his children to school, but it is unacceptable to insult the parents and teachers of Islington's schools in this way.

For Boris Johnson to say that he does not send his children to a state school simply because he lives in Islington is disdainful to every parent and teacher in the London borough of Islington.

"Boris Johnson's statement is one of his typical insults - in this case to Islington."Boris Johnson has previously gratuitously insulted Liverpool,Portsmouth and other places and he now appears to start doing it with parts of the city he claims he wants to be Mayor of.

It shows how completely out of touch he is with the reality and needs of London."Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn said:"Our schools have all benefited from new investment and dedicated teachers, and they deserve support from all politicians not contempt like this from Boris Johnson."


Anonymous said...

Classes in these schools are "unacceptably large" despite a Govt pledge to reduce them...and our classes remain amongst the largest in the developed world. (National Union of Teachers). behind Slovakia, Mexico etc.... I don't blame Boris for moving them. They are basically hopeless.

Anonymous said...

Boris never went to a state school
nor did his many children....

Anonymous said...

I don't support Boris, but he did send his children to a state primary school. Also Tony Blair conspicuously failed to send his children to Islington secondary schools. For whatever reason Islington has been at or near the bottom of national secondary education league tables for some years. The transfer of education from the local authority to a private company has done little to change the situation. Many of the middle classes send their children out of the borough or into private secondary education.

John Gray said...

Hi Anons
Personally, since I don’t think it is right (on balance) to ban private schools, then you have to accept that individuals will send their children to such institutions. Tony Blair famously claimed to send his children to a catholic school for religiously reasons. I wish it was otherwise, state schools and local communities would be far better off if everyone went to a local school.

I think what will annoy many, many Londoners is the dismissive nature of the comments by Boris, that he would not even contemplate sending his children to local secondary schools. Please read the article (link on page). There are problems in some inner city state schools. However, I think this is a kick in teeth for pupils, parents and teachers in state schools. BorisWatch on Labourhome points out that Islington secondary schools are over subscribed. While I don’t know Islington, I have friends in Tower Hamlets and Newham, whose children have been to state secondary schools and have done very well from the excellent education they have received. Two of whom have had “Firsts” at University.

Boris solution to the so-called “middle class” flight – improve “disorder on buses” is also bonkers and even insulting. Especially since he claims that his own young children use public transport to get around?

I think that in reality there is a more of a whiff of plain old fashioned snobbery about Boris over this issue. I would imagine that there are well regarded private schools within Islington? While it would appear from the Times that Boris actually sends his kids to “three of our most prestigious private schools” – which I think we can guess who they are and that they are also not in Islington?

If his argument is purely that the local state schools are so bad, then why did he not send them to a local private school?

Anonymous said...

The state school mentality is 90% of the schools one sends their children to the local comprehensive school out of choice..they are crap. I feel sorry for the teachers and kids who are condemned to them.

Anonymous said...

I thought the more significant - and damaging - thing about the Times interview was that the journalists treated Boris as a complete joke.

John Gray said...

Good point Dave – in view of recent polls (which I think must be wrong) London is “sleep walking into disaster” etc

Anonymous said...

It is no surprise that Islington schools are oversubscribed, most schools are. If I had moved into Stepney last week, then I would have to travel 3 miles to get my child a place. They are all full, except a few schools in Whitechapel. Some on the Island have a few vacancies too, but not for 5 year olds.

At secondary level, it would be Bethnal Green Technology College or St Pauls Way - both are failing schools.

As for old Tony wanting a catholic education - why did he not apply to Bishop Challoner - it would have been nearer ?

John Gray said...

and your point is?

Anonymous said...

John Gray, I need to talk to a sane Ken supporter, because some of the others are doing my head in.

I may not agree with your views, but you are rational and civilised, and so is Dave Hill.

ps. Cute pic. by the way of the Bullingdon guys and why on earth should they be ashamed, it is a very good school. They should be proud not ashamed.

John Gray said...

Of course you are right that it is a very good school. Why aren’t state schools as good? Anything to do with money and privilege?

Anonymous said...

If people are born into privileged circumstances that is not the fault of the person. Have we sunk so low that we resent those who have been privileged to go to Eton? My attitude is great, good luck!

When you hear that someone has won millions on the lottery, do you scream NOT FAIR! I think great, hope you enjoy yourself.

Maybe MP's who went to the best schools become MP's because they want to give something back. And with their trained brains they are in a good position to give something back.

ps. Boris won a scholarship to Eton and also one to Oxford.

Anonymous said...

John and Dave, if we are talking about tactless remarks, nothing is as outrageous as Ken's remark "If it bleeds it leads". How must the parents of murdered or attacked kids feel reading that one?

John Gray said...

My beef is that Boris chose to make such remarks about state schools when he hasn’t been to one himself.

Also, it is I think not exactly unknown for rich pupils to obtain scholarships for Eton and Oxford.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Ken’s remarks – he was quite rightly attacking the Tory media scaremongering on crime. No wonder the Standard took such a stance.

Anonymous said...

Surely whether you are born into privileged circumstances is a random thing, like the lottery?

Simply put, how is it any baby's fault if they are born into a wealthy background? (although I always thought Boris's family were not that wealthy- isn't his father an academic and his mother a painter?)

In my opinion, we should no longer care whether people come from privileged backgrounds, they should be judged on their ability to do the job. You have to be really clever to get into Eton, and they deserve respect for that, whether they got scholarships or not. I do not hold with the belief that privileged people are uncompassionate. Many are aware of their good fortune and want to give back. Class consciousness is so over now, like talking about racism. The word should never be mentioned, like the word toffs. That sort of thinking is so oldfashioned, we should judge people on their ability to do a job.

Anonymous said...

John I was delighted to read a small piece in Atticus, in today's Times,quoting Charles Moore who said that should Boris become London Mayor, it will mean proper acceptance for Old Etonians.

Old Etonians have enriched our lives through the ages. Where would we be without the fictional O.E's, James Bond, Mark Darcy, John Hannay, Allan Quartermain, John Steed, and Lord Peter Wimsey?

The founder of Amnesty International was an O.E and what could be a more amazing achievement than that? (Old Etonian Peter Benenson).

Famous P.M's include Sir Robert Walpole, Lord Gladstone, and Harold Macmillan, (the illustrious D.C. is bound to swell the ranks soon).

Famous O. E. actors include Daniel Massey, Patrick MacNee, Dominic West, Hugh Laurie, Damian Lewis, and on T.V. Sir Ludovic Kennedy, Bamber Gascoigne, and in the kitchen the lovely Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall.

There was famous dandy George Beau Brummel. Famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

37 O.E's have won the Victoria Cross, and famous solders include Col. H. Jones of Goose Green and the Duke of Wellington.

Last and not least from Eton, the noted wit and popular M.P. Mr. Boris Johnson. Through him the tide is turning and soon we will use the words Old Etonian to praise, not bury them.

ps. If you want more material on O.E's for your pages, just say the word, I have lots more here. You will gather I have a lot of admiration for O. E's and think they are unfairly treated. I can discuss this subject until the cows come home and indeed until they go out for milking in the morning.

John Gray said...

The problem is Boris's apparent scorn and disregard of London state schools. I had a really good education (not perfect) from a ex-secondary modern turned comprehensive.

My beef with Boris on this issue is his really negative attitude to London state schools, not that he went to Eton.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be room for improvement in some state schools though. If you work very hard surely you should be allowed to buy the best possible education that you can afford for your children? If you have inherited loads of dosh and can afford it that way, that is life, we all have advantages that many millions don't have.

For example, from your pic. you are a nice looking guy.(I am not flirting Mrs. John, just making a point). Would you say it is totally unfair that you are nicer looking than many other men and therefore they have the right to call you names?

Also, wealth is relative. To many poor people, you have wealth and security beyond their dreams. Do you think this gives them the right to make fun of you and call you names, like people do to the boys in the Bullingdon picture? because you are ridiculing that picture, aren't you?

John Gray said...


That photograph is silly and deserves ridicule. The only defence is that they are young and no doubt someone somewhere has an equally silly picture of me at that age.

The main difference is that Boris and Cameron are professional politicians who deliberately try and manipulate their images to get votes and power. So within reason they are fair game.

Anonymous said...

Hi John, how are things on your blog?

In spite of the polls, all keen Boris supporters are nt taking anything for granted, because who knows what Ken has up his sleeve?

The only poll that matters is May

ps. Boris is not going to stop the freedom pass.

John Gray said...

things are going very well comrade! thank you for asking.

Anonymous said...

John whatever happens, we will not bear grudges, I can tell you are a sporting guy.

John Gray said...

not at all future comrade (you will see the light).

Anonymous said...

John, this is funny. You know all the trendy jargon like astroturfer and grassroots? Well there is a new word now, SMURFETTE.

A smurfette is an independent mouthy female who pushes her ardent right wing views onto left wing blog. sites.

I am a smurfette.

John Gray said...

Hi "Smurfette"

You have not to my mind been that "mouthy" or "right wing".

But good on you. While I would rather you were a YS, at least you show an interest and a passion for politics. Therefore there is hope for you in the long term - even for a Smurfette!