So, Nick Clegg is a hypocrite, according to the British press (for one example, see http://is.gd/kq5EbR). Or, is he?
I think it is reasonable to assume that Mr and Mrs Clegg have different views on many things. For a start Mrs Clegg is a Catholic; Mr Clegg is the first mainstream political party leader to declare himself an atheist. I am guessing when England play Spain at football there is some good-natured marital rivalry about the result. (Mrs Clegg would not be well advised to change her allegiance on this particular matter). And so it seems to me quite possibly that the parents disagree on the appropriate direction of education for their children.
Of course, it might have been possible for the children’s father to demand that, as the children’s father, he has a patriarchal right to have the casting vote, and therefore he could have demanded that he had his own way. But we know that this didn’t happen. Is it reasonable to assume that it didn’t happen because Mr Clegg secretly wanted to send his children to the London Oratory. No. Assumptions about motives are not reasonable. And this news story is based entirely on assumptions about his motives.
And that, of course, is where this news story runs smack into another one, involving Lord Rennard. The LibDem media machine could have come out and said that the Cleggs disagreed, but Mr deferred to Mrs, because actually he doesn’t believe in a patriarchal society. The fact that they haven’t doesn’t make it less likely: it just suggests that some conversations between a husband and wife might actually be private.
My guess is that there was a protracted debate about the children’s schooling in the Clegg household, and Mr Clegg lost the debate. This doesn’t even suggest, given his wife’s profession, that he is a bad debater. It suggests that he knows that a family runs best when no member of it stands on their principles to the exclusion of everyone else’s view. I suspect he’s deeply uncomfortable about the school-destination of his child, and I suspect he is taking the hits for this because he doesn’t think it’s appropriate to be broadcasting private, familial discussions and decision-making. I suspect that Mr Clegg’s respect for women starts with respect for his wife’s views, and a willingness to defer to them sometimes.
And although I don’t normally come out on his side, I applaud him in this case.