A LEFT-WING SNP candidate has said she took her children out of the state education system to go private due to a lack of wrap-around care.

At an impassioned hustings in Edinburgh last week, Ashten Regan-Denham said her twins went to a state school for six years before her family decided on a fee-paying institution.

A staunch social justice advocate, Regan-Denham was the lobbyist for the socialist Common Weal think tank, an organisation whose motto is ‘All Of Us First’.

She is also the SNP’s Holyrood candidate in Edinburgh Eastern, where she is up against Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

In the past, she has described the Common Weal as rejecting the “survival of the richest, winner takes all mentality”, while one of the body’s policy papers stated: “One step to reducing this inequality would be to remove unnecessary religious segregation from our school system, and remove the charitable status of private schools, with the ultimate goal of rendering them redundant.”

However, Regan-Denham was criticised last year after it emerged that, despite the Common Weal’s left-wing stance, her own children are educated privately.

At a hustings in Portobello on Wednesday, an SNP supporter was critical of her schooling decision and asked all the candidates whether politicians should be held to account for their personal lives and choices.

Regan-Denham said of her children: “They were in state schools – I’ve got twins – so they were in state schools for six years, so they were there for quite a long time.”

“When I started working in Edinburgh, as a working mother, without the wrap-around care that I needed, because I was living at that time in the Borders … I just couldn’t make it work.”

“As a family, we decided to look at other alternatives.”

She continued: “I went to a state school. My husband went to a state school. And my kids did go there prior to that.”

Peter McColl, the Scottish Green candidate on the panel, said: “I wouldn’t ever send children, if I had children, to a private school.”

Nick Cook, the Conservative representative, said: “I think it’s important people aren’t seen to be hypocritical in terms of saying one thing in public … but do something quite different in private.”

Dugdale did not address her SNP opponent’s personal choices, but reiterated her party’s opposition to private schools enjoying charitable status.

However, the subject was raised again by voters at the hustings, with one individual defending Regan-Denham by sarcastically asking if living in a house affected a person’s ability to care about poverty.

The SNP candidate replied: “That lady absolutely hit the nail on the head, when she said that if you own a house, or live in a house and you’ve got a mortgage, that somehow precludes you from campaigning against poverty. Of course it doesn’t.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: "Even Ash Denham has now accepted that the SNP's record on childcare is appalling. Despite the SNP's claims, thousands of parents can't access the free childcare they are entitled to. The SNP claim to be investing in childcare yet they are cutting the budget for the local councils delivering it. The cuts to schools and local services also mean the after-school clubs and extra curricular clubs that so many parents rely on are being cut.

"Not everybody has as much money as Ash Denham to be able to be able to get round the fact that childcare in Scotland isn't flexible enough. Labour will stop the cuts and invest in nurseries and schools that so many parents and children rely on."