Labour And Toby Young Clash Over School Funding

Row over claim that funding for Chiswick went to Free School

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West London Free School founder Toby Young has clashed with three local Labour Party members in a row over the allocation of funding for schools.

In an article in the latest edition of The Spectator, Young, who is an associate editor of the magazine, criticises three Labour local election candidates who distributed a leaflet that contained a headline ‘Chiswick School loses out to Free School’. He said he was given the leaflet by a Conservative councillor from Chiswick.

One of the Labour members, Crispin Flintoff, said in response, that Young had picked up on a "small item" when the leaflet's main focus was the chaos that would be caused by the closure of Charing Cross Hospital A & E services and the failure of local Conservative councillors and MP Mary Macleod to campaign against this.

In his article, Toby Young writes that while it is true to say that the Building Schools Funding programme was cancelled by Minister for Education Michael Gove, it was cancelled because it was a "scandalous waste of money". He said it was "idiotic" to claim as the leaflet did, that money allocated to a local authority school in Hounslow was taken away and given to a Free School in Hammersmith.

Toby Young said the leaflet was clearly intended to pursuade parents of children at Chiswick school to vote Labour. "The message is: 'Nasty Mr Gove stole money from your children and gave it to a bunch of privileged, middle-class children in Hammersmith.'

"What the prospective councillors are claiming is that when the BSF programme was cancelled, the money wasn’t merely set aside, it was divided up into tiny little pots with a label indicating which school it was due to be spent on and then, when Gove wanted to fund the West London Free School, he took the money out of the pot labelled ‘Chiswick School’, even though it’s several miles away and in a different borough. It’s preposterous."

But Crispin Flintoff, a Labour Party press officer for Brentford and Isleworth and author of the leaflet hit back at Toby Young.

Mr. Flintoff, (above) who is one of three Labour candidate for the Homefields ward in the next local election along with Nada Jarche and Mendora Ogbogbo, said; 'Toby Young's article in the Spectator is misleading as he says there are different 'pots' allocated to schools. We all know there is only a finite amount of money spent on education. So the truth of the matter is that there is only one pot and  that comes from taxpayers' pockets.
'Chiswick School was allocated funds for rebuilding by the last Labour Government, but this was withdrawn by this coalition government because, in Toby Young's view, it was "a scandalous waste of money". As someone who has a vested interest in getting his Free School funded, it is obvious that he would say that money given to his school is spent more effectively.
'Toby Young says he was given the leaflet by an (unnamed) Conservative councillor in Chiswick. I would like to know who this is, as they really should be representing our local Chiswick School and not assisting Toby Young's campaign for free schools in another borough.' 

November 9, 2013