No, Jonathan Freedland – old Etonians don’t deserve deference just because of the school they attended

Tory London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith (left) and Boris Johnson, the incumbent. Both were schooled at Eton. So what?

Tory London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith (left) and Boris Johnson, the incumbent. Both were schooled at Eton.
So what?

In the contest between Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan for London mayor, lingering deference to the officer class hands one candidate a huge advantage, according to Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian.

What absolute rubbish.

Attendance at Eton does not mean anyone’s opinion is more valid than anyone else’s. In fact, many old Etonians seem to be stupider than the average factory worker – there are some prime examples in the Conservative Government’s cabinet.

One only has to look at the response to old Etonian (and Thatcher biographer) Charles Moore’s appearance on the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday.

This Writer tweeted: “Who IS this Charles Moore person? I’M better-qualified to be on Question Time! Ditch the toffs. We want real debate.”

Here’s the immediate reply, from a person calling himself Clapton Blues: “You are. Loved the Question Time caption: “Biographer of Margaret Thatcher.” That qualifies him to be on a flagship BBC programme?”

Only in the minds of over-deferential BBC executives, clearly.

Freedland writes: “The key advantage resides not in them, but in us. It seems the British psyche has never quite lost its ancestral deference to the upper classes. As Ivo Delingpole, a 16-year-old Eton pupil, wrote recently, ‘People want to hate us, but in the end they can’t resist us.'”

This will be the son of Lord Ashcroft’s key source of revelations about David Cameron’s alleged cannabis smoking and dead pig skull****ing college days, James Delingpole, then.

What a fine example of the Eton set that man is: An overprivileged backstabber.

And we’re supposed to look up to these villains? Don’t make me laugh, Freedland.

Afterthought: Oh, look. Even though Freedland himself didn’t go to Eton, he is a product of private education, having been educated at University College School, a boys’ independent school in Hampstead. Are we looking at the ramblings of a wannabe?

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14 thoughts on “No, Jonathan Freedland – old Etonians don’t deserve deference just because of the school they attended

  1. Noreen

    Hi, I wondered if Jonathan Freedland perhaps was referring more to our subconscious conditioning in society of which we are hardly aware that shapes our behaviours possibly? I loathe Eton and the elite it trains for world domination but that does not mean that I am immune to their power. It is so deeply ingrained in our horribly class ridden, Royal adoring society that a posh accent equals a more intelligent person and also a person who has some authority which we do not. I can see Goldmith and his ilk for what they are on a CONSCIOUS ie controllable level but what goes on underneath awareness is the scary bit. Like a variation of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ where the prisoner becomes emotionally invested his captor, the used/lower income, less educated person is not able to fully recognise and so combat the power the elite have over us due to the former creating the system we grow up in, the media we consult for news and the education system that we are forced to learn from. Things can change but may not be as straightforward as we wish. (Ps just saw Goldsmith on tv charming beyond belief and even though I know rationally he is a creation of his parents money largely, I can feel a desire in me to trust him etc. Therapy time for a nation? Joking aside, Teaching this type of power structure stuff in schools eg British Empire and its role in current conflicts etc (latter suggested by Corbyn I believe great idea) might help because children are of course so easily influenced no matter how clever they are. This is just a theory but Marx also mentions ‘False Consciousness’ ie the colonisation of the mind so the used party feels loyalty to the user not those like him. Sorry this is rather long. Great site thanks

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I disagree. I’m not subject to any mystique around where a person went to school, and I’ve met enough posh idiots to know that an accent doesn’t make them better than me!

  2. Neilth

    I think, in this case, you miss the point.

    In my years discussing politics with people from all walks of life and various political persuasions the one group I have never really been able to fathom is the working class Tory.

    They are strange beasts who are quite capable of understanding and even agreeing that they are underpaid, overworked and generally abused by uncaring employers and yet refuse to join a union and continue to defend said employers right to behave appallingly because of their ownership of the business etc.

    Often these people show their deference in other ways. They tend to be church goers and are ardent royalists with their collection of commemorative mugs and Diana memorabilia.

    Tragically these people do exist in great numbers and they are beyond reason. No amount of argument will persuade them to vote with intelligence rather than habit borne of subservience (which of course they deny).

    These are the people Freedland refers to and they are a problem.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Even so, the answer isn’t to write articles commenting on their existence and quietly approving of it; the answer is to point out in as many ways as possible that there is absolutely no reason to hold this belief and that the class under discussion is composed of people of all abilities, the same as me or you. They deserve absolutely no special treatment.

  3. Joan Edington

    There are mayors all over the UK. Why, oh why have we all expected to care about this one particular mayor? He is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of the population.

  4. iwgmoncrieff

    “Stupider than the average factory worker” Bit out of character, Mike. Comparisons are odious, in this case rather insulting to factory workers I would have thought.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      But it gets across the point that these people aren’t better than anybody just because they went to an expensive school.

      1. Jack

        I’m sorry but the point it gets across is that you think the average factory worker is stupid. I’m sure that’s not quite what you had in mind, is it?

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Perhaps it does, but then it may just be in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the intelligence of the average factory worker is higher than that of the average old Etonian? In that case, it seems odd that the Etonian should get all the deference and privilege, doesn’t it? The point is about class, not intelligence.
        I do try to choose my words carefully. Your interest in this says more about you than me, I think.

  5. Julia Lowndes

    You know in an ideal world we should be proud of people getting such a good education, but it’s not an ideal world because like everything now in this country if you have money you can have a great education, and always have been able to buy this for your children in this country. Along with private health and now justice we are a very unequal society. The privilege goes on as the system in this country supports the one percent, the tribe that has the wealth at the expense now of the poor given government policies and the unfairness of the cuts in public expenditure. No way are those lucky enough to go to Eton or Harrow and other such institutions better than any other person. And that is a fact!

  6. David Bacon

    I don’t like writing this, but I fear that we are still a deferential society where people are impressed by smooth manners and posh voices. Doesn’t Boris Johnson look the complete Jackass in the lead photograph? We have to remember that public schoolboys inherit a sense of entitlement, probably without even realising it. Johnson is said to hide a very shrewd political mind under the buffoonish behaviour, others say he’s just a buffoon. Either way, he’s not use to anybody. Etonians in particular seem to have it drummed into them that they are scions of the ruling class and therefore they must expect to rule.

  7. mrmarcpc

    Another greedy, pompous, old school tie posh boy who hasn’t earned what he has and yet still wants more and wants the rules to change to suit both himself and the other elitist parasites!

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