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Advice to a foolish Old-Etonian from a wise one

On Andrew Marr’s show this morning, David Cameron looked tired and spent – and very boring. It must have been hard for him  having to speak after Nicola Sturgeon, who is congruent in her body, measured in her speech, and ambitious for real change in the social structure. Cameron’s endless attempts to reinvent the Tories as ‘not the party of the rich’ seem to be getting even him down. I know it is me.

So here is some advice from an Old Etonian much wiser than he – one of the few who could really tell it like it is. Thanks to poet Dave Shortt for sending me this.

This is George Orwell on the English political scene in 1941:

“Internally, England is still the rich man’s Paradise. All talk of ‘equality of sacrifice’ is nonsense.

It is only by revolution that the native genius of the English people can be set free. Revolution does not mean red flags and street fighting, it means a fundamental shift of power. Whether it happens with or without bloodshed is largely an accident of time and place. Nor does it mean the dictatorship of a single class. The people in England who grasp what changes are needed and are capable of carrying them through are not confined to any one class, though it is true that very few people with over £2,000 a year [1941!] are among them. What is wanted is a conscious open revolt by ordinary people against inefficiency, class privilege and the rule of the old.

It is not primarily a question of change of government. British governments do, broadly speaking, represent the will of the people, and if we alter our structure from below we shall get the government we need. Ambassadors, generals, officials and colonial administrators who are senile or pro-Fascist are more dangerous than Cabinet ministers whose follies have to be committed in public. Right through our national life we have got to fight against privilege, against the notion that a half-witted public-schoolboy is better for command than an intelligent mechanic.

Although there are gifted and honest individuals among them, we have got to break the grip of the moneyed class as a whole. England has got to assume its real shape.”


  1. Yup, like it! Especially like the phrase “England has got to assume its real shape.”

    It’s real shape, YESSS!

    Comment by Carole on 29/04/2015 at 10:14 am
  2. Today, I would dispute Orwell’s statement that we get a government that represents us. I believe that things have actually got worse since Orwell’s day with the power of multinationals and high (or low) finance able to manipulate politicians to their will. When Milton Friedman came to prominence all those decades ago he said that he intended socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor. The results are now all around us, and these malign international forces will be harder to dislodge than the doddering, out-of-touch old fogeys of old. Of those who voted at the election, two-thirds voted against the Tory party, yet that party has absolutely no intention of taking their views into account, thus cynically exploiting the weakness of the first-past-the-post system in a way that I don’t believe would have happened in the decades before Thatcher.

    Comment by David Redshaw on 29/06/2015 at 7:11 pm

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