Tory MP: ‘More Lambeth kids go to prison than university’


A Conservative MP has sparked a row after claiming more children from Lambeth go to prison than university.

Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, was condemned by Streatham Labour MP Chuka Umunna and Metropolitan Police Superintendent Roy Smith.

Lewes MP Ms Caulfield grew up in Lambeth during the 1970s and 1980s and insisted her remark referred to her own youth at school in the borough.

She made the claim while defending Conservative Party supporter, journalist and food critic Toby Young and his controversial appointment to a new university watchdog.

He was appointed to the Office for Students Board on January 1, prompting claims that he is not qualified, and that he would be divisive because of his controversial tweets and writing.

Ms Caulfield triggered the row on New Year’s Day, hours after the appointment was announced.

She pointed out Mr Young co-founded the West London Free School and is now a trustee of the charitable trust which runs it and several other schools.

She tweeted: “As a working class kid who went to school in the Socialist state of Lambeth where more kids ended up in prison than university, why the outrage at the appointment of Toby Young?

“He’s set up schools that have helped thousands of working class kids.”

Superintendent Smith hit back at the message, tweeting: “I’m sorry I can’t comment on your views of appointments but to suggest the majority of kids in Lambeth end up in prison is inaccurate, offensive and unfair to the majority of wonderful young people in the borough despite in some circumstances having a range of personal challenges.”

Mr Umunna, who represents part of Lambeth in the Commons, also said the comments were unfair. He tweeted: “This is offensive garbage, Maria Caulfield. You say more Lambeth kids end up in prison than university.

“Provide the evidence and, if you can’t, provide an apology.”

Ms Caulfield replied: “Come on Chuka, you are better than this. I’m talking about my experiences growing up where I went to school in Lambeth and working class kids like me were dismissed.

“I’m sharing my experience of what happened to kids at my school.”

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