Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has insisted he “proudly” supports Labour’s policy of ending public support for private schools – despite choosing to educate his own children privately.
Mr Sarwar said he accepts that people may criticise him for the decision but stressed it was one “that my wife and I made … for our children”.
He was pressed on the matter as the Scottish Labour manifesto for the May 6 Holyrood election made clear the party’s commitment to ending “all public sector support for fee-paying private schools”.
Labour would “end their charitable status for rates relief as a contribution towards achieving a more socially just and inclusive society”, the policy document said.
Asked afterwards if that makes him a hypocrite, Mr Sarwar said: “I have been called worse than that.”
Mr Sarwar, who is the first political leader in the UK from an ethnic minority background, added: “As I have made clear before, I accept it is a fair criticism.
“I have been open and honest about this, there are different forms of inequality and prejudice that my children will face.”
However, he said he has supported the policy ever since it was adopted when Kezia Dugdale was Scottish Labour leader, adding: “I proudly support it now.”
“I am open around the fair question and the fair criticism people make around the decision that my wife and I made for our children,” he said.
“Every parent wants to do what is best for their children, but I want every child to have opportunity, that is why we have put our education comeback plan at the heart of this manifesto.
“That is why we are talking about an individual assessment for every pupil, we’re talking about not just an educational assessment, but also a mental health assessment and backing that up with more ASN (additional support needs) teachers and teachers in our schools.”
Mr Sarwar insisted: “I want everyone to have a quality education across the country.
“I accept the criticism, but that was a decision my wife and I made on what was best for our children.
“But I want every parent to have the best for their children, that is why I want us to invest in our education comeback plans.”