Before getting elected, many MPs are advised to clean up their social media presence to avoid any potential embarrassing information or ill-advised comments coming to light.
And it seems that new Labour MP Keir Mather – who was elected as the new MP for Selby and Ainsty at the tender age of just 25 last Friday – has clearly heeded this advice.
Some time after his nomination as the Labour candidate for the seat back in June, Mr Mather’s old Twitter account (@keiramather) was completely deleted, and information from his Facebook page was also reportedly wiped off the face of the earth.
Mr Mather has since replaced his old handle with a totally fresh account – the slightly awkward looking @Mather_Keir.
However, one other piece of information that the new Labour MP clearly does not want to get out into the public realm is the fact that he went to a private school.
Labour politicians – especially those with big dreams of high office – are always extremely keen to try and talk up their supposed “working class credentials” to the public. None more so than the current Labour leader, and Mr Mather’s namesake, Keir Starmer.
During Starmer’s many enthralling speeches and numerous relaunches, the Labour leader has routinely emphasised his “normal” upbringing, boring the country half to death by repeatedly telling us about how his ‘father was a toolmaker’, his ‘mother was a nurse’, and how he grew up in normal ‘pebble-dashed semi’.
Mr Starmer’s claims to an ordinary childhood are also boosted by the fact that he only ever went to state schools.
The same cannot be said of Mr Mather, however, and his Comms team have been desperately trying to hide the fact – going so far as to intentionally mislead Evolve Politics, in writing, by claiming that he never actually did.
Did Keir Mather really go to Private School?
The day following his election, Mr Mather declared he was in total support of Keir Starmer’s policy not to abolish the widely-hated two-child benefit cap.
Incoming Labour MP Keir Mather defends the party's plan to keep the two child benefit cap. pic.twitter.com/t4MdZw91cZ
— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK) July 21, 2023
It was at this point that we decided to conduct a small cursory amount of research into his background and explore where his allegiances and priorities might lie.
Most of Mather’s background is well-documented, such as the fact he went to Oxford Uni, was a Parliamentary Researcher to Wes Streeting, and that his most recent job was at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) .
However, during our research we discovered two less well-known pieces of information.
Several sources told us that, whilst studying at Oxford Uni, Mr Mather had previously worked as a researcher for the former Tory MP and Times journalist Matthew Parris. This little nugget of information was essentially confirmed to us when Mr Parris – not usually one to praise Labour MPs – wrote a glowing appraisal of Mr Mather in The Times last Friday.
However, on a number of other news websites it also said Mather attended Hymers College – an all-through private school for children aged 3-18, located in his home town of Hull. This piece of information was also included on Mr Mather’s official Wikipedia page, with a link to one of the news articles cited as a source.
However, the fact that Mr Mather went to private school had not been included in the BBC article documenting his rise to power, or in a number of other big mainstream publications.
As things stand, the privately-educated are hugely over-represented in Parliament compared to the general population, with around 30% of MPs having gone to a private school compared to just 7% of the general public.
We feel that elitism is an issue of public importance – especially when it comes to Labour, the party who were founded to represent ordinary people.
Therefore, due to the lack of reportage of the information, we decided to post a tweet documenting Mr Mather’s private school education, as well as publicising the exact fees that the school charges for a full 11-year education – a cool £138,025 in total.
The tweet subsequently gained a bit of traction, picking up hundreds of retweets (and the attention of a few of Mr Mather’s extremely pleasant and definitely not highly abusive supporters).
However, the following afternoon at 12:52, Evolve Politics received a very straightforward and to-the-point email from Labour Communications Officer by the name of Phoebe Plomer.
The email simply stated:
“Keir Mather MP did not attend Hymers College as you have reported. He went to South Hunsley comprehensive school in Brough.
“Please issue a correction immediately and let me know who I can take this up with.
Now, as you can imagine, this new information came as a bit of a shock to us. We had a number of sources claiming that Mr Mather did indeed attend Hymers, including former pupils and a member of staff. In addition, the information was included on a number of news articles and on his Wikipedia page. Things seemed a little strange.
However, we really don’t mess about with corrections and complaints.
The email was sent from an official @Labour.org.uk email account, addressed from an official Labour Communications Officer listed on their site, and was claiming an absolutely cast iron fact that we had apparently misreported. Surely, of all people, an official Labour Communications Officer would know where Mr Mather was educated. And so we simply assumed that all of our other sources must be mistaken somehow.
We didn’t think twice. Our initial tweet was immediately deleted, and a full and frank retraction and apology was posted with equal prominence to our Twitter account just 25 minutes later:
Unsurprisingly, our tweet correcting the record attracted yet more extremely polite comments from Mr Mather’s supporters.
In addition to our tweeted correction, we also replied to Ms Plomer’s email apologising for the error – adding that we would be pinning the tweet to our Twitter Home Page for 7 days as a courtesy, and explaining that if they were not happy with our response, they were free to take the issue up further with our regulator, Impress:
We assumed this would be the end of things.
However, throughout the day we began receiving further information from people telling us we were actually correct all along. And so we re-read the email and began to research further.
The first thing we did was go to Mr Mather’s Wikipedia page to check the Edit History of his page to see who had been adding and removing the reference to Hymers College. And what did we find?
Following this removal, a debate began to rage on the Talk section of Keir Mather’s Wikipedia page about whether or not the MP did, in fact, attend Hymers. This debate included references to Evolve‘s initial tweet and subsequent retraction:
But, the second thing we realised was that the email sent by Ms Plomer to us only actually accounted for Mr Mather’s Secondary education – at South Hunsley Comprehensive. Furthermore, it used a classic non-denial denial technique, by adding “as you reported” to the end of the refutation – indicating to us that only a small detail of what we reported might be wrong.
By this point the fact that Mr Mather had attended South Hunsley at Secondary level was indisputable – given that he is included in a number of their publicly available newsletters, and is also listed as having attended Hunsley in an Oxford University newsletter too.
However, Hymers College is not just a private secondary school. Hymers also caters for years 1 through 6, with Hymers Hessle Mount catering for pre-school until year 2, and Hymers College Junior School serving years 3-6.
And the more and more we dug, the more and more we became convinced that despite his Communication’s team’s denials, Mr Mather did indeed attend Hymers private school at Junior level. But, because our initial tweet contained a picture of the Senior school rather than the Junior School, it is this little detail that Ms Plomer was misleadingly basing her demand for a retraction on.
And so, after searching every record, every news outlet, and every social media platform for literally any reference whatsoever, we finally found it – a social media post that Mr Mather clearly forgot about.
A single post to the ‘Hymers College Old Hymerians Facebook’ page that simply read:
“Can anyone help an Old Hymerian please?
“Housing help needed!
“Hey everyone! In late January/early February I’m going to be moving to London to start a new job and am looking for a room to rent. If anyone has a place, or knows anyone who does who they could put me in touch with, then please do let me know!
“Keir A. Mather”
This Facebook post appears to confirm our local sources, who indicated that Mr Mather attended Hymers Private School at junior level and then moved to South Hunsley Comprehensive for his secondary education.
In addition, the Facebook post was published on January 4th 2022 and perfectly correlates with the information contained in Mr Mather’s LinkedIn profile page which states that he took up his new role at the CBI, in London, in January 2022:
Wikipedia are also now linking to the Facebook post as a source for Mr Mather’s attendance at Hymers, but a mystery user keeps removing it, with one Wikpedia editor on the article alleging there is “Evidence he is changing the Wikipedia to hide facts.”
We have contacted Mr Mather’s Communications Team asking for clarification of our findings. However, they have so far failed to respond.
A very real tale that public figures can do everything they want to erase their histories to try and hide the truth from the public, but – in this modern day and age – the internet never forgets.