Miliband: private schools will keep charitable status

Labour leader takes the reverse position to his brother.

Here's a subject that we haven't heard much from Ed Miliband on before: private schools. In an interview with Channel 4 News tonight, the Labour leader will say that he would not take away private schools' charitable status [a £100m taxpayer subsidy] if elected.

"It's very difficult to take away the charitable status for a whole host of complicated reasons. I don't think you can abolish public schools in a free society. Am I going to abolish public schools? No."

What makes this politically notable is that during the Labour leadership election David Miliband pledged to end private schools' charitable status. In an article for the Guardian, he wrote: "Under the Tories, the poorest will end up paying the price of the mistakes of the richest. We should not be afraid of the mansion tax on £2m houses or extending the bankers' bonus tax, rather than charging the poorest with VAT rises. And the idea of taking money from the poorest children while continuing to subsidise private schools is just wrong."

Here, then, is a rare example of a subject on which David leans to the left of Ed.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Could Jeremy Corbyn still be excluded from the leadership race? The High Court will rule today

Labour donor Michael Foster has applied for a judgement. 

If you thought Labour's National Executive Committee's decision to let Jeremy Corbyn automatically run again for leader was the end of it, think again. 

Today, the High Court will decide whether the NEC made the right judgement - or if Corbyn should have been forced to seek nominations from 51 MPs, which would effectively block him from the ballot.

The legal challenge is brought by Michael Foster, a Labour donor and former parliamentary candidate. Corbyn is listed as one of the defendants.

Before the NEC decision, both Corbyn's team and the rebel MPs sought legal advice.

Foster has maintained he is simply seeking the views of experts. 

Nevertheless, he has clashed with Corbyn before. He heckled the Labour leader, whose party has been racked with anti-Semitism scandals, at a Labour Friends of Israel event in September 2015, where he demanded: "Say the word Israel."

But should the judge decide in favour of Foster, would the Labour leadership challenge really be over?

Dr Peter Catterall, a reader in history at Westminster University and a specialist in opposition studies, doesn't think so. He said: "The Labour party is a private institution, so unless they are actually breaking the law, it seems to me it is about how you interpret the rules of the party."

Corbyn's bid to be personally mentioned on the ballot paper was a smart move, he said, and the High Court's decision is unlikely to heal wounds.

 "You have to ask yourself, what is the point of doing this? What does success look like?" he said. "Will it simply reinforce the idea that Mr Corbyn is being made a martyr by people who are out to get him?"