See this picture from LibCon (ooh, how ironic).

It’s nicely balanced.  One from Eton, one from St Paul’s, one from Radley, one from Cheltenham Ladies, one from Wellington, one from Brentwood, some oiks from Grammar school, and three Comprehensive pupils slipped in.

Oh, and two from Westminster, so they’re slightly overrepresented.  But it looks like the spread of public-school attendance is very even indeed … no one culture is going to dominate then.  Phew.

Matthew D’Ancona makes an interesting point here:

The vast majority of children born in the Sixties did not have the option of a grammar school education, unlike Blair and Brown’s generation. So it should be no surprise that the architects of “Clameronism” are mostly privately educated.

I hate to make excuses for this, but D’Ancona may have a point. Since parties must pick who they think are good some 10-20 years after their university time (we hope), can this preponderance reflect current prejudice, or the way things looked many years ago?  More interesting, perhaps, would be what the new crop of 200+ MPs look like.

All the same <sigh> there still isn’t someone from Ryde School, Isle of Wight.


12 thoughts on “A balanced cabinet

  1. It’s no surprise, of course. Private education works – why else would parents pay the premiums if not to secure advantages for their sprogs?

    But the cabinet education composition does neatly reflect the extent to which in Britain the top tiers are unsurprisingly dominated by those who have started with financial advantage.

    Of course, a lot of these will have gone to Oxbridge too. But that bothers me a lot less, because Oxbridge a) aims to take the best and b) trains them up to be the very best, so it would be weird if Oxbridge types didn’t dominate. indeed what does really bother me about Oxbridge is that that too is over-subscribed by the privately educated, and I say oversubscribed because (ok this is anecdote not experience) when I was there it wad stuffed full of people who were of middling ability but had been trained up at excellent schools to bluff their way in, yet who would never have made the cut if they’d been at a normal comp fending for themselves.

    1. I agree – in my time too, the public school types (from really good schools, not really Ryde) were good for the first few terms when they were really just re-learning what they had been trained in. Then things got interesting ….

  2. Apparently the % of Tory MPs from private schools is its lowest ever, though.

    The other thing worth investigating about the Cabinet is just how rich it is. To say three of the top four Ministers have not had a great struggle in life is to put it finely.

    Whether this matters or not I don’t know, but I think the 5% pay cut is rather tokenistic and actually sets a poor example.

  3. Also and I which people like d’Ancona would do a bit more research, John Major’s 1992 cabinet had 22 members, of which 16 went to private school (2 to Eton) and five to state school (including grammar schools). This is a worse proportion than David Cameron’s, and while ministers were older then, I counted only 3 who were ‘too old’ to have gone to a grammar school (if you take 15 in 1950 and 10 in 1965 as your cut offs).

  4. Am I to infer that you’re from the Isle of Wight, then? Coming from the south coast, I’m now going to have to treat you with suspicion and assume you’re a strange in-bred from across the water.

    1. I have a dubious, mongrel past: born Tabriz Iran, moved at age of 1 to Rugby, dad became headmaster on IoW which helped to blight an adolescence spent there, left the darned place in 1990, life finally began.

      We used to talk with great suspicion and mistrust of the mainland, on the Island. Before going off to stare dully at the sea, or at cars. Or pick garlic. Bad bad days.

      1. Iron? In some of the upmarket parts of Ryde they’d heard of it. Anywhere near Yarmouth and it would have been Bronze

  5. Some of these minsters are too old to have gone to comps…..first was in 1949 and they didn’t really get going until 1965 (Crossland) and then the early 70s (Maggie!).

    So for Clarke, St Vince etc it was pretty obviously going to be grammar schools, wasn’t it? Given that you didn’t get into uni if you hadn’t been to one (well, or private) at that time.

    So some of this is generational effects.

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