What a good question. But don’t expect a sensible answer from a man called Harry Mount, apparently the author of a book written [in his prep school ?] called Amo, Amas, Amat and All That, who apparently has been a paid leader writer for that oracle of truth, The Telegraph.
My favourite boarding school researcher, Simon Partridge, found this gem from last October in the said rag’s archive. In it Mount pronounces:
“I’ve got nothing against public school boys in general – I’m one myself. [really? ed.] And certainly nothing in particular against Nigel Farage (Dulwich), Douglas Carswell (Charterhouse) and Mark Reckless (Marlborough). I know all three of them a little – and I like and admire them. But, on the face of it, it is pretty strange that a rebellion which placed a mammoth rocket beneath British politics was orchestrated by old boys of three of Britain’s most famous public schools.”
Really? I thought it was the Scottish Independence movement that has brought politics back to life, chastened all the 3 main parties, and given new life to the Greens. (Don’t mention the bullying it evoked from the financial world).
I thought UKIP had brought us the politics of fear and hatred under a veil of complete duplicity – what you see is not what you get! Have I missed something Harry?
“Why has this [revolution] happened?” wonders our erudite Telegrapher. “Well,” he reasons, “part of the reason is the reason why the Coalition is largely led by boys from public schools: David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg among them; not forgetting Boris Johnson.”
Good point, Harry. Your logic is starting to get to me.
“But the other reason is that – for all the conventional nature of public schools – they are extremely good at breeding the confidence and independent thought that lead, occasionally, to rebellion.”
Well thanks for that, Harry. What a good reason to spend £1000 per month each school term on sacrificing your offerings childhood. If only I had an eight year old and £30K a year to spare! Damn!
But help me with one question: perhaps you can answer why said Farage has invented himself – not as a public school chap with all that confidence – but as a kind of jolly old Essex milkman who thinks all politicians are rogues? Farage of course doesn’t include himself in this with his deft slight of hind.
Is that what you call a rebellion that you admire, Harry?
Now Harry goes on to philosophize a bit – wait for it; he says that there “can be evil rebellion, as in the case of the Cambridge Spies: Kim Philby (Westminster); Donald Maclean (Gresham’s); Guy Burgess (Eton) and Anthony Blunt (Marlborough). But it can also be the decent sort of principled rebellion …”
… decent … principled … Farage? Am I loosing the plot? Oh my god! We’ll never get it on this island, will we?
The brave knight Mount continues: “….that led Winston Churchill (Harrow) to change party twice; or led George Orwell (Eton) to become the intellectual father of modern, radical thought.”
Hang on Harry. Orwell is actually the author of Such Such were the Joys, the most damning account of boarding ever written. Here our own Simon Partridge found a quote from the back of the Penguin version of this essay, in which Orwell says:
“I think the characteristic faults of the English upper and middle classes may be partly due to the practice … of sending children away from home as young as nine, eight or even seven.”
And 3, 4 or 5 sometimes, George.
I don’t imagine Mount would mind this much. Some establishment critics suggest the Orwell may not have been telling the truth in his memoir.
As I say in Wounded Leaders “Dissociation Roles OK.” Lets all go and have a pint, Nige – invite Harry.