ANYBODY who regularly reads the Camden New Journal will already know that Fiona Millar, Alastair Campbell’s better half, doesn’t often let an opportunity to state the case for good old local comprehensive secondary schools pass. So, maybe it’s no surprise that Tony Blair in that book recalls her irritation at his – and Cherie’s – decision to send their kids to The Oratory, a posh choice for the future Prime Minister’s tribe. The selection was made ahead of local schools in what was then the Blair family’s home patch in Islington. Fiona “really disapproved”, he writes.
So why did they do it? P88 of his spiky memoirs tells us:
As I said to Alastair: you and Fiona took hold of your children’s secondary school and changed it. I don’t have that option. Also there was was always this somewhat absurd charge that we should have chosen Islington schools for our children (they had gone to primary school there) because that’s where we lived. Without seeming complacent or taking things for granted, I couldn’t point out the reality, which was that come the election we might well be living in Westminster.
Deep breath. I reckon most people would figure now he was taking things for granted. More importantly, he then adds:
And, to be frank, with the state of Islington schools at that time, it is something that we would have tried to avoid anyway.
They didn’t just try. There was never any real prospect of his children going to Islington’s schools. If only everybody who didn’t like the school at the end of the road could teleport elsewhere so easily, eh?
Fiona Millar, meanwhile, commendably remains, sleeves rolled up, in the thick of improving William Ellis School. As chair of governors, she has just smoothly helped ensure the seamless introduction of a new headteacher ahead of the new term.