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June 30, 2007



Verrry interrresting, Mr D. But could part of the prob simply be that the London media find their English class-consciousness somewhat frustrated in that they find it hard to "place" any Scot who is neither Glesca slum nor Duke of Hamilton. Mayhap. Lord Worstall of the Algarve recently referred to GB as being "upper middle class". Hm.

Peter Risdon

Have you read "How to be Alien", by George Mikes? (http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Be-Alien-Handbook-Beginners/dp/0140025146) Especially this bit: http://f2.org/humour/howalien.html#Clever

I think there's even more to this than you point out. Somewhere in this by no means recent attitude lies the manner in which the self-made engineering class of the 19th century became absorbed by the upper classes, and the self-improving working class by the socialist movement.

nick humfrey

I think there's something in your last suggestion (although some of the others show a little bit of chip on your shoulder). When I was at cambridge I was struck how strong the correlation there was between how cool and confident you were and how good the school you'd been to was. Almost by definition you have to be seriously geeky to get to Cambridge from a below average comp. While at public school (and I went to one so I know what I'm talking about) it's almost a given that if you're bright you'll try for oxbridge. As a result you don't have to sacrifice any social status to try hard academically.
I can see how this could affect politics too. Cameron was reputed to be a fan of the high life in his twenties. It's not obvious how you can be so if you have to spend those years working hard to get anywhere near the job he got straight out of uni.
My solution? Allow all wannabe politicians to enjoy their youth by not allowing anyone to be an MP before they're 40. But then Milliband wouldn't be foreign secretary and that would be a shame.


presumably David Miliband is so personable because he spent his school days socialising instead of working, hence his 3B's and a D at A level. How on earth did he get into Oxford with that lot? Was there some special scholarship for the children of Marxist University Professors? Or was he just too clever to get an A?


Oi, Dipper, you're not suggesting that he applied to a College where a chum of his Dad's was Admissions Tutor, are you? Shame on you.


Well it does throw up a lot of questions.

Like, if one of the countries most intellectually capable politicians only gets B's and a D at A level then what is the point of A levels?

And as for nepotism and the old boy network, I think, ahem, for personal reasons I'll let someone else complain about that.

Will Blake

Nothing to do with their supposed intellectual abilities. The people you mention - Brown, Milliband and Willetts - all come across as socially awkward in the way that people who were bullied at school often do. Many other politicians have similar characteristics (the other Milliband and Michael Gove come easily to mind). Unfortunately such people often bring out an instinctive antipathy in others; irrational but all the stronger for that.

The Druid

How did Milliband get into Oxford with such low grades? Easy. He passed the entrance exam. Nothing to do with connections.

Blair and Cameron appeal more to ordinary people simply because they practice at it. To a large extent its an act. Take Blair's support of English football. Manufactured. He is a Scot by birth and education. But no doubt calculated that post Euro 96 there were shed loads of votes in being associated with English football. Just as he discovered - out of nowhere - a passion for English rugby and cricket when those teams won. Then there was the people carrier with the baby seats, the mug, the taking off of the suit jacket and so on. All very carefully crafted. But if you look back to the early Blair career pretty much absent. Cameron's limited career is mostly in PR. So no doubt he is well aware of the importance of image in a way that John Major wasn't.

The reverse was of course Macmillan who passed himself off as an aristo at home on the grouse moor etc. He was of course an upper middle class publisher descendant of crofters who married a Duke's daughter and after some searing personal experiences re-invented himself. F E Smith was another great pretender. His background in Birkenhead was very humble, but through raw talent, a large overdraft and chupatz he went on to seize the 'glittering prizes'.

Actor managers the lot. Now the people you mention probably have the sort of integrity that makes living a lie like this difficult.

Workshy Fop

I've got to say that far from appearing personable, when I met Milliband he came across as an arrogant prick, completely unwilling to listen to any point of view other than his own, talking over people, ignoring people who were trying to talk to him, and absolutely desperate to get away from an event he'd attended of his own volition.

Devil's Kitchen

Workshy Fop,

Isn't that odd? Because that is precisely how he comes over on his blog...


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