Are public school boys still running Britain?

Stephen Crone: an edited version of this post was first published on the LSE British Politics and Policy Blog on 11 March 2011

When it was broadcast in January, Andrew Neil’s documentary,Posh and Posher: Why Public School Boys Run Britain, received an almost universally positive reception – both on the left and theright. Many apparently agreed with its main proposition: that after a period of political meritocracy during which we enjoyed thirty-three consecutive years of state-educated prime ministers, Britain has now re-entered an age of elitism in which “old Etonians are ruling the country once more.”

The documentary offered some unsettling facts and trends to support this theory, informing us that the number of MPs educated at public schools is on the rise, and that the upper echelons of the major political parties are now beholden to Oxbridge graduates; but its message was perhaps best captured by its indelicate yet effective imagery – with old footage of Harold Wilson and Edward Heath (set to T. Rex’s Children of the Revolution) juxtaposed with an interview between Neil and that redoubtable Etonian caricature, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, in which the latter ironically declared “I’m a man of the people. Vox populi, vox Dei.” Continue reading