'My son can't go to state school… he wants to be a surgeon!' Outrage over 'snobbery' of by-election candidateMaria Hutchings, the Tory candidate in the Eastleigh by election, suggested her 12-year-old son was too clever for state schools She said it was a 'challenge in finding the right sort of education for him – impossible in the state system'
02:09 GMT, 17 February 2013
12:48 GMT, 17 February 2013
A Conservative candidate aiming to snatch Chris Huhne's former seat back from the Lib-Dems has been accused of snobbery after suggesting state schools were not good enough for her son
Maria Hutchings, the Tory candidate in the Eastleigh by-election, has been hit by a storm of criticism after she seemed to suggest her 12-year-old son, who has ambitions to become a surgeon, was too clever for state schools.
Ms Hutchings, described by Lib Dems as a Sarah Palin figure for her habit of speaking off-message, lives in the constituency and is seeking to overturn a 3,800 Lib Dem majority following the resignation of the former cabinet minister.
Campaign trail: Maria Hutchings, the Tory candidate in the Eastleigh by election, has been hit by a storm of criticism after she seemed to suggest her 12-year-old son, who has ambitions to become a surgeon, was too clever for state schools
On Friday she said: 'William is very gifted, which gives us another interesting challenge in finding the right sort of education for him – impossible in the state system. He wants to be a cardio-respiratory surgeon', The Observer reports.
Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said Hutchings had insulted every pupil and teacher at state schools 'including those in Eastleigh.'
He accused her of total ignorance of 'what a great job so many state schools are doing.'
Lib Dem leader of Eastleigh council, Keith House, said the daughter of Mike Thornton, his party's candidate in the by-election, gone on to study medicine at Imperial College, London, after a state school education.
Mrs Hutchings, 51, first made headlines in 2005 when she ambushed Tony Blair during a live TV debate.
Off message: Ms Hutchings, described by Lib Dems as a Sarah Palin figure,first made headlines in 2005 when she ambushed Tony Blair during a live TV debate
She confronted the Labour PM on Five’s The Wright Stuff about the closure of special schools and the link between autism and the MMR jab.
Armed with a photo of her autistic son John Paul, she called on him to provide more support for children with learning disabilities.
The former Labour supporter yelled ‘Tony that's rubbish’ before studio workers intervened.
Soon after the 2005 general election, which Labour won, she met David Cameron, who was then Tory education spokesman.
Mrs Hutchings became a member of Mr Cameron’s controversial A-List of high-flying Tory candidates, and was regularly included in lists of female wannabe MPs dubbed Cameron’s Cuties.
She battled against Huhne in Eastleigh at the 2010 election, but the Lib Dems increased their majority from 568 to 3,864.