Sunday, December 06, 2009

Brown Eton class comment spiteful, says Cameron.

David Cameron has come out fighting the only way he can after Gordon Brown stated that Tory tax policies were "dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton." Cameron has immediately declared that Brown is fighting a class war.

Mr Cameron, an Old Etonian, said people were not interested in where you had come from, but where you were going to.

He told BBC1's The Politics Show he was "not in the slightest bit embarrassed" about his private schooling.

There is a certain irony to Cameron declaring that this is "a class war" as, if Eton is about anything, it is about class. The defence Cameron is striking is that there's nothing wrong with having a good education, but Eton is about much more than a good education, Eton is about who your parents were, how much money they possess, and whether or not you are accepted in the upper echelons of society.

And the truth is that Cameron has more old Etonians in his Cabinet than any shadow cabinet that I can remember.

The problem with this isn't that we don't want Etonians running the country, but that one can genuinely raise the question of how much such a privileged bunch of people understand the way ordinary working class people live, especially when Cameron is promising to make such savage cuts in public spending.


"My view is very simple... that what people are interested in is not where you come from but where you're going to, what you've got to offer, what you've got to offer the country.

"Now if Gordon Brown and Mandelson and the rest, if they want to fight a class war, fine, go for it. It doesn't work.

"It's a petty, spiteful, stupid thing to do but if that's what they want to do, you know, go ahead."

Cameron was also asked why the Conservative party website did not reveal where some people went to school unless they went to a state school. So, obviously the Conservatives are highly aware of how unusual it is for any shadow cabinet to have such a large proportion of it's members drawn from the most elite school in the country; especially, I would add, at a time when Cameron is attempting to dispense with the Tory image as the elitist party out of touch with the rest of us.
He answered: "I don't think it's any secret where I went to school... as far as the Conservative website is concerned, I'm sure we can sort it out."
As I say, no-one has anything against well educated people serving in government, indeed, surely we want the most intelligent and best trained minds to lead the nation?

But leadership is not only about the head, it is also about the heart. And only someone who has no experience of life at the sharp end of poverty could make the callous suggestions Cameron is making about savage cuts in public spending.

That is when the number of old Etonians in Cameron's cabinet becomes an issue. Do they have any understanding of the pain that would be caused by what they are proposing?


There's more background on that photograph and the background of the Bullingdon dining club here.
Related articles:

Class is the river that runs right through the English soul.

What drives this enduring class consciousness? It's not envy, as the privileged love to insist. I've never cared about being rich, personally, and I don't think most ordinary people do. Since I got on the property ladder back in the early 1980s, my house is valuable and my children will suffer if Brown abandons his plans not to extend inheritance tax levels. But that's fine with me. Because it's not fair that they should benefit. They're not entitled to it.

Yet the fact that the children of the rich are not "entitled" to start their lives mired in even more privilege than they already enjoy is something the posh cannot grasp – not emotionally anyway, however much they may pay lip service to it intellectually.

It's just the damn unfairness of it all that offends basic English sensibilities. No one objects to David Beckham's riches, but the fact that the Shadow Cabinet is stuffed with the products of private schools when only 7 per cent of the country is privately educated sticks in the collective craw.

Likewise, the top universities and professions and most particularly the judiciary – with 75 per cent privately educated – are overstuffed with posh boys and girls, and that rankles too. The fact that private schools continue to be granted charity status compounds the offence – more tax breaks for the privileged.

The time has come for a reckoning, and again it is gradually dawning on Brown what political capital there can be made out of this.

Click here for full article.


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