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.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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