Tristram Hunt tells parent to ‘stop moaning and do some work’
Labour's latest attempts to win over floating voters capsized this morning after their shadow education secretary told one inquisitive parent to "stop moaning" and "do some work".
Father of two Thomas Mann, from South London, told Politics.co.uk he had been made to feel like a "little person" by Tristram Hunt.
Mann had asked Hunt on Twitter to direct him towards details of Labour's education policies.
When Hunt replied with a link to Labour's website, Mann responded that the site only contained "soundbites" and asked for further detail of his policies.
In a remarkable response, Hunt replied that Mann should "stop moaning. Read the speeches. Do some work". He added: "Your industry will be rewarded".
Hunt's blunt comments immediately caused a stir on Twitter with both Mann and others declaring that Hunt had lost their vote.
@TristramHuntMP has Gove hacked your twitter account!? You think I'm in education? I'm a parent; your employer. Tell Ed u just lost a vote
— Thomas Mann (@curv_org) February 1, 2015
— Colleen Prendergast (@pepsquad108) February 1, 2015
— Kate Nash (@KateMrsnash) February 2, 2015
Speaking to Politics.co.uk afterwards, Mann said he had feld "condescended" by Hunt.
"I felt very condescended by him. I felt that he was treating me like a 'little person'," he said.
"I think politicians have lost the idea of who their employers really are and who they are meant to serve."
He added that he had previously voted for Labour but the exchange with Hunt meant that the party had "definitely lost my vote".
By contrast he said he had received encouraging responses from his local Green party representatives.
"I think purely on education policies I'm leaning towards the Greens. They were certainly more open to speak to me about their policies, although I'm still undecided."
Mann said education had become very important to him after his child's secondary shool in Lewisham had been put through the process of enforced academisation despite local opposition.
The Conservative party today announced that they would convert up to 3,500 more failing schools into academies.
Under current rules, only schools which are judged inadequate can be forced to convert. Under the new plans, even schools which Ofsted judge to "require improvement" would have to change.
The plans are highly controversial among teachers and unions, but place Labour in a difficult position given the academy programme was initially set up by the party.
The row comes as a poll last week found that Labour's lead on the issue has completely disappeared.
A poll by Comres/ITV found that the Tories now maintain a one point lead on which party voters trust most to improve the education system.
Recent polling shows that Labour maintain a clear lead among teachers, with 57% backing the party as opposed to just 16% backing the Tories, according to YouGov.
Before the last election, the Tories held a lead of one point among teachers.
However, Hunt's relations with teachers have not always been easy. Last year he caused controversy after ruling out reversing most of the coalition's education policies.
"I don't think you want to waste political energy on undoing reforms, that in certain situations build actually rather successfully on Labour party policy," he told the BBC.
He has also backed away from a pledge to increase funding for schools by removing cut tax relief for private schools.