Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Of Sir Max, Plebs and Toffs

Max Hastings, in The Guardian today writes about the surprising lack of fuss about the social provenance of David Cameron to voters and, indeed, much of the media. He goes on to suggest 'a growing number of voters are discovering virtue in elites'-though not one shred of evidence if offered to support this assertion-'in the concept of promoting excellence, if the alternative is to sustain parity of ignorance.' His insinuation is that 'the plebs have had their go; now it's time to give the toffs a try'. It's true New Labour have been disappointing in all sorts of ways, but at least there has been some improvement in public services since they took the decision to pour in the resources the Conseravetives would never have ventured.

Under the 'toffs' during the Thatcher years- and she employed not a few of them-hospitals declined to the point when nobody could have any faith in them-I have personal and family experience of that- and schools atrophied for desperate want of investment. And I suspect that behind this article lay some wishful thinking by Sir Max. He, after all, is no pleb-Charterhouse and Oxford- and was a thoroughly dependable rightwinger until that awful little oik Major got hold of the nation's driving wheel. I am I have to say, a great admirer of Hastings' journalism- he writes one of the very best columns in what is in my view the far and away best newpaper- but I detected a touch of relief and self congratulation in his piece that 'we-our people- are on our way back'

Speaking as someone-still a chippy Grammar Schoolboy at heart- who loathes the traditional ruling elite and believes they retain far too many expectations of special treatment and the forelock touching Hastings rightly condemns, I sincerely hope he is wrong. I suspect we'll hear quite a bit about the gilded youth, born with the stockbroker's silver spoon in his mouth, before the next election. And I suspect and have every hope Gordon Brown will exploit his own ordinariness to substantial effect

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