Back in 1988, as the parent of a child soon to start school, I sat down to read the brochure sent to me by East Sussex County Council listing the schools from which you could Choose.
In fact, there was very little choice. Most of them were in the hands of the Church of England or the Roman Catholic church and the school descriptions consisted largely in elaborate sets of discriminatory and exclusionary admissions criteria. There was no beating about the bush: first preference to their own lot of believers, second preference to those from other Christian denominations, third preference to disabled pupils, fourth preference to non-Christian religions, fifth preference to local pupils, and so on.
As the child of unbelievers, my daughter was welcome nowhere - except, fortunately, in the non-denominational local primary school, a rarity in East Sussex.
I was genuinely appalled. I had never seen such crude discriminatory thinking paraded - and in a public document about publicly-funded institutions. So I wrote a piece in the Times Educational Supplement naming and shaming the schools with the most contorted admissions policies. They didn't like me for it and I got some cross letters. ("No Choice for the Wicked", Times Educational Supplement, 19 February 1988)
But the schools had nothing to fear. Their bigotry fitted in perfectly with the needs of aspirational middle class parents. Under New Labour, the schools were encouraged and the parents got the selective schooling they wanted - selective not on the basis of merit but on the basis of professions of religious faith. It would be hard to think of a more reactionary education policy than that pursued by New Labour and now thoroughly consolidated.
Today, the newspapers carry the story that the head of the Church of England's Education Board, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard wants to cut to ten percent the number of places reserved for practising Anglicans in the C of Es Voluntary Aided Schools.
Well, of course, the C of E does have a problem with numbers. There aren't many practising Anglicans left and those that are left include all the middle class hypocrites pretending to do God in order to get their kids into a Nice School. But I still don't think the Bishop of Oxford will get his way.
The Squeezed Middle doesn't believe in social mobility and it doesn't believe in equality of educational opportunity either. Socially Selective Schools, paid for from general taxation, are one of the Benefits they have come to expect.