By-elections bring out the worst in normally quite sane people. It’s all “my party right or wrong”. And today we have seen the Eastleigh by-election descend to the depths, courtesy of the Liberal Democrats. I don’t know why I am surprised. However, I am surprised by Stephen Tall, editor of LibDem Voice, who is normally one of the saner LibDems. Here is his contribution to the campaign today

Perhaps Stephen is unaware that three of Maria Hutchings’ children are autistic and I suspect the comment in the speech bubble above related to one of them. He might now feel rather ashamed of himself. But let’s just imagine that he isn’t. Following Nick Clegg’s comments about possibly sending his own son to a fee paying school, aren’t the LibDems making a rod for their own back in attacking Hutchings in this way? Nick Clegg has every right to make his own decision, and so does Maria Hutchings.

Autistic children are often very gifted, but they can also be very difficult, withdrawn and lack sociability. They have special needs, and very often the system cannot provide the education the child needs, if they are to make the most of themselves. Therefore parents have little choice but to look outside the state sector. That does not imply criticism of state schools, it is just a fact that the state system is ill equipped to be able to cope with every sort of special needs.

A child’s education, let alone one with special needs, ought not to be a matter for political controversy.

UPDATE: LibDem Blogger Mark Thompson takes a similar view to me HERE