Don’t let the Cons tell you they didn’t know…

Andrew Dickie, formerly of this parish, has kindly provided a pictorial quote to accompany his assertion that my view of Cameron and Osborne’s incompetence in the previous blog was either somewhat rose-tinted or more probably downright misleading. Theirs was not incompetence but was, in short, malevolence.

I fear I must stand corrected.


It compares neatly with an incisive summary of the Brexit plot:

It seems Machiavelli plays a considerably larger part in Oxford’s PPE than had previously been realised.



  1. Andrew Dickie -

    Peter, nothing I said about the malevolence of the Tories since 2010 in ANY way contradicts your powerful argument as to their incompetence (one might even say their blinkered insouciance, thinking they could kick the marginalised, and not have the marginalised kick back when given a golden opportunity such as the Referendum offered them).

    I well remember how Cameron mocked Gordon Brown for suggesting that even the Tories’ modest proposed £6.5 billion of emergency cuts ran the risk of choking off the post-2008 GFC recovery engineered by Brown and Darling. And lo and behold, so it did!

    Incompetence AND malevolence.

  2. Graham -

    “public school alumni constitute 74 per cent of senior judges, 71 per cent of senior officers in the armed forces, 55 per cent of permanent secretaries in Whitehall, 53 per cent of senior diplomats, 50 per cent of members of the House of Lords and 45 per cent of public body chairs. So, too, 44 per cent of business leaders on the Sunday Times Rich List, 43 per cent of newspaper columnists, 33 per cent of MPs and half of BBC staff.” (according to the Sutton Trust)

    Verkaik, Robert. Posh Boys: How the English Public Schools Ruin Britain

    Not to mention the composition of recent Cabinets, or the fact that since 1806 only Ted Heath of elected PM’s had no connection to public schools. I find all that deeply worrying, not just in terms of unfairness, but because of the kind of attitudes and psychological issues they are likely to have (which he discusses).

    “Diane Reay, emeritus professor of education at Cambridge University… comes from a working-class coal-mining community and taught at inner-city primary schools for twenty years. She told me: ‘They are making decisions for the rest of us based on a very very slim knowledge base about what the rest of us are like: what our attitudes are, what our values are, what our needs are and how we live our lives. That is deeply problematic… because where you have people who have been segregated from the rest of the community there clearly is a lack of empathy and understanding.’

    He quotes Psychotherapist Nick Duffell: “the public school is ‘manifestly unfit for purpose’. Indeed, he believes that ‘British elitism supports an outdated leadership style that is unable to rise above its own interests, perceive the bigger picture and go beyond a familiar, entrenched and unhealthy system of adversarial politics. Such a leadership style is not to be recommended. It may well be dangerous given the demands of the current world in which increasingly problems are communal – indeed global – and in which solutions urgently demand non-polarized cooperation and clear focus on the common good in order to take effect on a worldwide scale.’

    Then there’s the clique of PPE guys in charge…If you’re looking for possible explanations for the mess we’re in it’s all in the book. Cameron, Osborne and Boris (“who needs neither surname or adult haircut”) are prime examples of the public school/boarding syndrome.

    1. Andrew Dickie -

      Graham, please do not think that my observation on your post in any way invalidates your general thesis, about the less than beneficent effect of drawing our ruling class from so restricted a pool of talent.

      A final point on PM’s and their education: Harold Wilson was also a grammar school boy, but like Thatcher, he too went to Oxford.

      Two additional points therefore arise: the first is that it could be argued that grammar schools were (are, where they still survive, eg in Bromley) effectively State Public Schools, granted their ethos and style.

      The second point concerns the preponderance of Oxbridge alumni in the ranks of PM’s (and the rest of the ruling class), and indeed of Oxford over Cambridge. I think of the PM’s of the 20th century, only Stanley Baldwin went to Cambridge.

      This restricted selection pool is a matter of concern, I agree, wholly in keeping with the concerns you raised, by referring to Robert Verkraik’s book, for which reference I thank you.

  3. Seán Danaher -

    Is quite correct here the entire “austerity” agenda was s smokescreen to contract the state for neoliberal ideological purposes.

  4. Andrew Dickie -

    I have to call into question your statement that “or the fact that since 1806 only Ted Heath of elected PM’s had no connection to public schools.”

    I’m pretty sure Disraeli had no such connection, and certainly Ramsay McDonald hadn’t, nor had either Jim Callaghan or John Major.

    And even Thatcher was a grammar school girl, though she did go to Oxford, where none of my other examples even went to any university, though Disraeli was a member of Lincoln’s Inn – but there’s no evidence he ever completed any studies, and was certainly never called to the Bar. And Heath may not have been to public school, but he did go to Oxford, indeed, I think he went to Baliol.

    1. Graham -

      I’m paraphrasing from the book. He says: “My research shows that since 1806 Edward Heath is the only elected British prime minister to have no personal involvement with the private education sector. Gordon Brown, who did not win a general election, is the only prime minister to both attend a state school and send his children to one.” I think he includes sending children to private schools.

      1. Graham -

        However, I think the main point holds which is that private schools have an unhealthily disproportionate representation in high places, as noted in the first reference. And in my opinion, this is followed closely by Oxbridge which again takes a disproportionate number of students from these same schools.

        I think the results of this elitism is clear in the way the UK is run. (or ruined)

  5. Peter May -

    I think the egregious point about the Cameroonies is their determination to mislead and pull up the drawbridge after them and never give it a second thought.
    Perhaps we should concentrate on their sociopathy and incompetence. I see it is reported today that, leaked from Cameron’s memoirs, is the fact that he considers Gove both a lunatic and beneath him socially! I don’t like Gove much myself but he is one of the few Tories who can engage in a sensible argument without the ever present vacuous point avoiding or lying of other Conservatives.

    Meanwhile the Telegraph has an article REALLY “With Etonians shunned in the modern Cabinet, where will the new talent come from?”

    1. Sean Danaher -

      as you may have gathered I have an admiration for David Alan Green of the FT and Jack of Kent. He went to a Birmingham Comp and still speaks in a Brummy accent.

      I think “Heroes led by Donkeys” or Georg Orwell’s “A family with the wrong people being in charge” has never been so appropriate.

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