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What might that be then - a desire to get the best education for her son? Or a wish to keep bad publicity at bay? Ros Dodd ruminates.

Former Education Secretary Ruth Kelly's political future is said to be in doubt (she apparently faces a backlash in Bolton where she has a tiny majority over the Tories) because of the furore over her decision to send her dyslexic son to a private school.

Interestingly, her alleged precarious career position is due to the fact she has breached New Labour's ‘state schools for all' ethical code.

As usual, Ms Kelly's detractors are missing the point: if my daughter suffered from a learning difficulty and I deemed it was in her best interests to send her to a school that went against my political beliefs, you can be sure I would. What, pray, is the merit of holding true to ideological dogma at the expense of the perceived suffering of your child?

If Ms Kelly truly believes her son's best interests are served by sending him to a fee-paying school, then she is right to do so.

The point at which my sympathy evaporates is her lack of honesty in explaining her decision to the electorate before she was ‘outed'.

My goodness; you'd have thought the beleaguered Blair government would have learned a trick or two by now in terms of being open about what it's up to. But no; Ruth Kelly chose to stay silent about her son's educational change of circumstance until it was revealed by the media.

Why so? If she believes she has done the right thing by her son, then why didn't she announce the news herself? Had she done so, she wouldn't have been forced on to the defensive. The fact she has put herself into this back-footed position says far more about her as a disingenuous politician than it does about her as a caring parent.

If Ms Kelly had been up front about her decision, and the reasons behind it, she would have nipped the current criticism in the bud.

But as we all know, the Blair administration doesn't work like that: it wriggles away behind the scenes and hopes it won't get found out. And when it does - as it always will while there's still an un-muzzled media to contend with - it scrambles its spin-doctors to douse the fire.

Yet even now, after so many debacles, it still doesn't seem fully to realise that the burning embers remain.


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