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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Donald Trump's healthcare failure could be to his advantage

The appearance of weakness is less electorally damaging than actually removing healthcare from millions of people.

Good morning. Is it all over for Donald Trump? His approval ratings have cratered to below 40%. Now his attempt to dismantle Barack Obama's healthcare reforms have hit serious resistance from within the Republican Party, adding to the failures and retreats of his early days in office.

The problem for the GOP is that their opposition to Obamacare had more to do with the word "Obama" than the word "care". The previous President opted for a right-wing solution to the problem of the uninsured in a doomed attempt to secure bipartisan support for his healthcare reform. The politician with the biggest impact on the structures of the Affordable Care Act is Mitt Romney.

But now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they are left in a situation where they have no alternative to Obamacare that wouldn't either a) shred conservative orthodoxies on healthcare or b) create numerous and angry losers in their constituencies. The difficulties for Trump's proposal is that it does a bit of both.

Now the man who ran on his ability to cut a deal has been forced to make a take it or leave plea to Republicans in the House of Representatives: vote for this plan or say goodbye to any chance of repealing Obamacare.

But that's probably good news for Trump. The appearance of weakness and failure is less electorally damaging than actually succeeding in removing healthcare from millions of people, including people who voted for Trump.

Trump won his first term because his own negatives as a candidate weren't quite enough to drag him down on a night when he underperformed Republican candidates across the country. The historical trends all make it hard for a first-term incumbent to lose. So far, Trump's administration is largely being frustrated by the Republican establishment though he is succeeding in leveraging the Presidency for the benefit of his business empire.

But it may be that in the failure to get anything done he succeeds in once again riding Republican coattails to victory in 2020.

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