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Same old, same old … how to understand the Rees-Mogg problem.

Do you sometimes wonder, if, when you have fallen asleep after watching the UK news, that you may have woken up in 1898 instead of 2018?

Why is British politics and many of its chief actors so weird?

The answer lies in how we educate our elite – not much differently to how we did it in 1898.

In the mid 19th century, the British industrialised boarding schools for the mass production of officers and administrators for their growing Empire by engineering ‘privileged abandonment’ and ‘normalised neglect’ – a context in which abuse readily flourishes.

The resulting Entitlement Illusion attitude still operates today and can be seen in our Brexit stuckness and is currently figure headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson.

Psychologically it is a compensation for terrible, unrecoverable loss that is rarely examined and has been taken for granted in the UK, rather like gun use is in the US.

As a psychotherapist, psychohistorian and author, I will speak about my 30 year research into this problem and what I call The Rational Man Project at a free event on Saturday 17th March in North London. Entitled ‘Wounded Leaders: Why British politics is so flawed’ the talk is for the wonderfully named NEWS FROM NOWHERE CLUB, venue: the Epicentre, West Street E11 4LJ. The talk starts at 8.00pm but there is a buffet veggie supper at 7.30 – please bring something to share if you can. All welcome, no need to book – just turn up.

Later in the spring, you can find out more about cutting edge Menswork, when Darrel and I will be running a poster stand that’s open for all the breaks and one session when everyone goes round at the Male Psychology Network’s Male Psychology Conference on 22nd and 23rd June at UCL in Bloomsbury, central London.
The two days will focus on how boys can go off the rails, and what can be done to recover them, even as adults in prison, as well as exploring some positive aspects of men and masculinity, and positive developments for men in therapy and suicide prevention.

Come and join us at both events if you can!


  1. The boarding phenomenon is closely involved with issues of class–and as Chomsky says, class is a very difficult issue to address. We should not underestimate the difficulty here.
    Like all politics, we need to be working on making deals. (Other countries in Europe have private schools–in France 15 per cent of schools are private.) But they have a political culture which fosters a clear identity of citizenship and inclusion. We can do the same here. To restore belonging and identity is not easy–especially in England. We need to think about how we can do this. My idea is to offer the private schools (also known as public schools) a deal. The government–probably the Labour party– could step in-and say–we value all young people–even privileged ones–and offer to pay have the fees of private school pupils. In return the schools must end boarding.

    Comment by Henry Lawson on 07/03/2018 at 6:46 pm
  2. I meant to say at the end–half the fees of private school pupils. Also the schools would need to open up their facilities to State pupils for, say, 20 hours a week.

    Comment by Henry Lawson on 07/03/2018 at 6:50 pm
  3. This whole class system thing runs very deep. I was recently involved in an exchange of letters in my local paper about grammar schools. Here in Kent we are one of the few counties to still have them. Someone had written in to say that he had come from a working class background but had “achieved” after going to grammar school. He didn’t say what he had achieved. He might have been an investment banker for all we know. I replied to say that my three daughters had all been to a local comprehensive and and had done well in two cases and well enough in the third – who wasn’t a scholar but has emerged as a decent and caring human being. The grammar school advocates always try to pretend that pupils are all “lumped in together” at comprehensives. If this was ever true it isn’t now. My daughters were “setted” according to the subject in hand so that no-one was holding anyone back. I think that what the grammar school advocates really want is for their children to be able to go to the posh grammar school on the other side of town wearing the posh grammar school uniform. One correspondent complained that his grammar school children were prone to having their caps snatched and thrown about by the oiks on the bus home. Well of course. What did he expect? No other country in developed Europe has this system. So perhaps fewer caps are snatched and thrown about.

    Comment by David Redshaw on 04/07/2018 at 7:23 pm

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