No 10 attempts to defend Cameron over state school comments

Cameron was “empathising” when he claimed he was “terrified” of finding a good state school.

No 10 has been attempting to explain why David Cameron claimed he is "terrified" of trying to find a good state school for his children.

At this morning's lobby briefing, the PM's spokesman said:

What he's doing was empathising with the issues that many parents face where they are concerned about whether or not there is a decent school locally that they can send their children to . . . which is why the government is committed to a range of reforms to drive up standards, increase choice and increase the diversity of provision.

It's a reasonable defence, but it doesn't make up for what was a major blunder. Not only did Cameron falsely suggest that there are no good state schools in London, he also unwittingly revealed that he plans to give his children a comprehensive education not for their own benefit, but for his.

Here are his comments again:

I've got a six-year-old and a four-year-old and I'm terrified living in central London. Am I going to find a good secondary school for my children? I feel it as a parent, let alone a politician.

If Cameron really does believe that he will struggle to find a good secondary school for his children, why is he not educating them privately? The answer is that, for a "modernising" Tory leader, this would be considered politically unacceptable.

In an apparent reversal of Diane Abbott's decision, Cameron is (at least from his own perspective) putting politics before his children. He should either admit as much or -- a far better option -- visit a few more state schools.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.



In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.