The new Education Secretary suggested people who went to comprehensives were poorly educated and Labor MPs are “in the main thick”, whereas Tory MPs are “highly educated” in a letter written to his student newspaper.
Kit Malthouse said a fellow student’s “ill-phrased, ponderous letter” was “obviously written by someone with a less than adequate education”, which “probably” meant they went to a “comprehensive” school.
In the letter in 1988 to Newcastle University’s newspaper, The Courier, seen by The Telegraph, he said that Labor MPs are “in the main thick, with a generally lower IQ than other MPs”, whereas Tory MPs are “highly-educated, intelligent professionals, with experience in the real world ”.
Mr Malthouse, then 22, was responding to a letter by Darren Murphy, a history and politics student, who wrote that Margaret Thatcher’s days were “numbered” after “years of Conservative devastation of the North and the Midlands went unnoticed”.
Mr Malthouse, who was educated at Liverpool College when it was a private school, questioned how people could vote for Neil Kinnock, the Labor leader at the time, when he had taken “seven years to get a pass degree in psychology from Cardiff poly and has never had a real job in his entire life “.
The emergence of the letter risks embarrassment to the Education Secretary as he takes over responsibility for the education of millions of children in state education.
He became the fifth Conservative MP to have held the position of Education Secretary in a year when he was appointed to the role by Liz Truss this month.
‘Very obviously a satirical letter’
A source close to Mr Malthouse said: “This is very obviously a satirical letter written to a student rag 34 years ago to pull the leg of the Uni Labor club. It’s clearly not an actual view he held then, or indeed holds now, not least because the huge advance in quality and standard of education across the board over the last decade has been wonderful to see. “
Bridget Phillipson, Labor’s shadow education secretary, said: “After 12 years of a Conservative Government that has failed children in state schools, these are unfortunate comments to come to light.
“Parents of state school pupils will want reassurances that the new Secretary of State doesn’t still hold these views, and that he will be stretching every sinew so that every child can get a brilliant state education.”
Prior to starting in his new job, Mr Malthouse has said very little publicly on education since he was elected an MP in 2015.
He now faces the challenge of delivering on Liz Truss’s leadership campaign pledges, including to expand high-performing academies, explore lifting the ban on grammar schools, and demonstrate a “laser-like focus” on improving maths and literacy standards.