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The Education of our Rulers


John Simkin
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When private school educated, Sir Alec Douglas Home, was defeated by grammar school Harold Wilson in 1964, it was argued that this was a turning point in history and the ruling class would never be able again to provide the country’s prime minister. This appeared to be the case and the Tory Party was after 1964 led by state school educated people: Edward Heath (son of a builder), Margaret Thatcher (daughter of a grocer), John Major (son of a garden gnome manufacturer), William Hague (son of a soft drinks manufacturer) and Michael Howard (son of a Romanian immigrant). The same was true of the Labour Party. However, it all changed when Tony Blair became leader. The son of a Tory he was educated privately.

The success of Tony Blair has encouraged the Tories to elect a privately educated person as leader. David Cameron was educated at Eton. Alec Douglas Home had been educated at Eton. So had the two Tory prime ministers before him, Harold Macmillan and Anthony Eden. Home was a 14th earl, Eden was the son of a baron and Macmillan was the son-in-law of a duke.

Cameron, the son of a wealthy stockbroker, married into the aristocracy (his wife is the daughter of Viscount Astor).

Cameron has surrounded himself with Old Etonians. Oliver Letwin is his head of policy, Edward Llewellyn, chief of staff, Danny Kruger, chief speechwriter, George Bridges, head of campaigns and Zac Goldsmith, his environmental adviser. In addition, Cameron’s shadow ministerial team boasts Letwin and 12 other Old Etonians, including the greatest buffoon of all time, Boris Johnson.

Of course, Britain has always been governed on behalf of the ruling class. However, is it wise to come out of the shadows to do it themselves?

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When private school educated, Sir Alec Douglas Home, was defeated by grammar school Harold Wilson in 1964, it was argued that this was a turning point in history and the ruling class would never be able again to provide the country’s prime minister. This appeared to be the case and the Tory Party was after 1964 led by state school educated people: Edward Heath (son of a builder), Margaret Thatcher (daughter of a grocer), John Major (son of a garden gnome manufacturer), William Hague (son of a soft drinks manufacturer) and Michael Howard (son of a Romanian immigrant). The same was true of the Labour Party. However, it all changed when Tony Blair became leader. The son of a Tory he was educated privately.

The success of Tony Blair has encouraged the Tories to elect a privately educated person as leader. David Cameron was educated at Eton. Alec Douglas Home had been educated at Eton. So had the two Tory prime ministers before him, Harold Macmillan and Anthony Eden. Home was a 14th earl, Eden was the son of a baron and Macmillan was the son-in-law of a duke.

Cameron, the son of a wealthy stockbroker, married into the aristocracy (his wife is the daughter of Viscount Astor).

Cameron has surrounded himself with Old Etonians. Oliver Letwin is his head of policy, Edward Llewellyn, chief of staff, Danny Kruger, chief speechwriter, George Bridges, head of campaigns and Zac Goldsmith, his environmental adviser. In addition, Cameron’s shadow ministerial team boasts Letwin and 12 other Old Etonians, including the greatest buffoon of all time, Boris Johnson.

Of course, Britain has always been governed on behalf of the ruling class. However, is it wise to come out of the shadows to do it themselves?

I am currently looking at elite theory with my Year 13 sociologists... I wonder if we could develop a teaching resource out of these sorts of discussions .... any ideas?

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