One of my bug bears about the main political parties is where the people at the top have come from via education, and how this pattern appears to bar the ‘ordinary’ person from ever getting there, so I thought I would have a wee look to see if what I felt was in fact true and here is what I found:
Michael Foot – 1980 to 1982 – Plymouth College Independent School / Oxford University (Philosophy/Politics and Economics).
Neil Kinnoch – 1983 to 1992 – Lewis School Comprehensive / University College Wales (Industrial Relations/History).
John Smith – 1992 to 1994 – Dunoon Grammer School / University of Glasgow (History).
Tony Blair – 1994 to 2007 – Chorister Independent School / St.Johns College Oxford (Jurisprudence).
Grodon Brown – 2007 to 2010 – Kirkcaldy High School / University of Edinburgh (History).
Ed Miliband – 2010 to – Haverstock Comprehensive School / Corpus Christi College Oxford (Philosophy/Politics and Economics).
Paddy Ashdown – 1988 to 1999 – Preparatory School Bangor / Royal Marines-MI6.
Charles kennedy – 1999 to 2006 – Lochaber High School / University of Glasgow (Politics and Philosophy).
Menzies Campbell – 2006 to 2007 – Hillhead High School / University of Glasgow ( Art and Law).
Nick Clegg – 2007 to Westminster School / Cambridge University (Archaeology and Anthropology).
Margaret Thatcher – 1975 to 1990 – Kesteven and Grantham Girls school / Somerville College Oxford University (Chemistry).
John Major – 1990 to 1997 – Rutlish School / Standard Chartered Bank.
William Hague – 1997 to 2001 – Ripton Grammer School / Magdalen College Oxford University (PPE).
Iain Duncan Smith – 2001 to 2003 – St.Peters RC School / Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Michael Howard 2003 to 2005 – Llanelli Boys Grammer School / Peterhouse Cambridge University (Law).
David Cameron – 2005 to – Heatherdown Preparatory School / Eton College / Brasenose College Oxford (Philosophy,economics and Politics).
Gordon Wilson – 1979 to 1990 – University of Edinburgh (Law).
Alex Salmond – 1990 to 2000 – Linlithgow Academy / St.Andrews University (Economics/History).
John Swinney – 2000 to 2004 – Forrester High School / Edinburgh University (Politics).
Alex Salmond – 2004 to As above.
Apart from John Major and Paddy Ashdown all the party leaders since the 1980s have attended University. The break down is Oxford 6 – Cambridge 2 – Edinburgh 3 – Glasgow 3 – St.Andrews 1 – Wales 1. So Oxford certainly appears to help get to the top of a political party, as does Edinburgh and Glasgow. Study choices lean towards history, politics, economics, law and philosophy so a little theme towards the arts.
Most party leaders have worked (in some way) but quite a few have either worked for the family business or have become part of the political researcher/adviser roles. So my point is that we have allowed a political class to be continued along the lines of elite educational establishments and/or links to political parties in advisory or research roles. It would then appear to be impossible for someone from a manual or ‘regular’ working background to ever achieve the top of their chosen party no matter how good they were. This I would argue is not good for democracy in any shape or form and we have allowed it to happen.
Our politics, like big business, have been hijacked by the very few and while some parties would appear to be better than others, well the SNP being left of centre, none of them can say they truly represent the ‘ordinary’ man and woman in the street. On top of an unelected head of state and unelected second chamber we really are in trouble if we ever want our politics to reflect our society, we have given too much away to too few people at the very top, who may in the main see their position as an entitlement.
We are currently seeing a decline back to Victorian conditions in the UK, you have to ask yourself if this has been the agenda all along for some within the political parties who wish to see a low wage/low state UK and those who will protect their own narrow gains and interests, as much as they can, example being most of the Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster. We really have created a problem that shows no sign of changing any time soon.