Tristram Hunt is in trouble with his old school. Photo: Getty
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Tristram Hunt's headmaster gives him a telling off for his private school plans

"Offensive bigotry."

It is a source of constant joy to Conservative politicians picking apart Labour's education policy that the shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, went to a private school. And now his education is coming back to bite him yet again, as the headmaster of his old school, University College School in Hampstead, gives him a telling off for his new proposals.

This week, Hunt unveiled Labour's new plans to force private schools to partner with the state sector or lose £700m in tax relief. And his former headmaster, Mark Beard, isn't happy about it. Writing in the Telegraph, he said:

Dr Hunt’s proposals are deeply depressing – and not just because of the questionable legality of a government in effect removing charitable status for political reasons. (Did he nothing learn from Michael Gove’s abortive attempt to make Ofsted inspect independent schools?) His position is that, if they are unwilling to do more to help the state sector, independent schools will be treated as purely commercial enterprises. Why, then, should they not behave as such? Treat private schools as pariahs and you remove any pretence of encouraging them to play their part in society.

 . . . rather than relying on independent schools to solve the problems of the 93 per cent of pupils in the state sector, isn’t it time for Labour to come up with some helpful and forward-thinking initiatives, rather than espousing the old “them and us” propaganda?

He also told the Telegraph Hunt's plans espouse "what some might deem an offensive bigotry".

Detention!

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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RMT poised to rejoin the Labour Party

The transport union is set to vote on reaffiliation to the party, with RMT leaders backing the move.

Plans are being drawn up for the RMT (the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) to reaffiliate to the Labour Party in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s significant gains in the general election, the New Statesman has learnt.

The union, which represents tube drivers and other workers across the transport sector, was expelled from the Labour Party under Tony Blair after some Scottish branches voted to support the Scottish Socialist Party instead.

But the RMT endorsed both of Corbyn’s bids for the Labour leadership and its ruling national executive committee backed a Labour vote on 8 June.

Corbyn addressed the RMT’s annual general meeting in Exeter yesterday, where he was “given a hero’s welcome”, in the words of one delegate. Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, praised Corbyn as the union’s “long-term friend and comrade”.

After the meeting, Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary at the RMT, posted a picture to Facebook with John McDonnell. The caption read: “With the shadow chancellor John McDonnell arguing that we should affiliate to the Labour Party after consulting fully and democratically with our members”.

The return of the RMT to Labour would be welcomed by the party leadership with open arms. And although its comparably small size would mean that the RMT would have little effect on the internal workings of Labour Party conference or its ruling NEC, its wide spread across the country could make the union a power player in the life of local Labour parties.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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