The Rise Of A New Political Class?

The vast majority of important politicians come from Oxbridge backgrounds. But the problem is that they don’t have any experience of the real world.

alan johnson chancellor david cameron Debating doctors ed balls elitism jobs nurses Oxbridge politics shadow cabinet

Is the fact that the leaders of the three main political parties all went to Oxbridge a problem in modern politics?

It seems that a new ruling class appears to be quietly emerging in modern British politics. The symbolic removal of Alan Johnson, a former postman, from his position as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, marks the end to the old order of politicians – many of whom were labourers (miner Aneurin Bevan) or non-university goers (PM James Callaghan).

Inexperienced Ed?

Johnson has been replaced by Ed Balls, of Keble College, Oxford. 19 out of 27 members of the Cabinet and 10 out of 27 of the Shadow Cabinet are former Oxbridge students.  For many cultural commentators this fact in itself is a disgrace.  And when I’m in a particularly revolutionary mood I tend to agree with them.

Why on earth is the modern political scene, which is just about getting to grips with having women, gays and ethnic minorities on the front bench, still so dominated by these two institutions which are still seen as bastions of privileged white middle-class men?

The issue is not the number of Oxbridge students in politics; it is their political backgrounds that matter. So many of our modern politicians seem to follow a smooth course from student political and debating societies to parliamentary researcher, to MP’s assistant, to safe constituency, to Cabinet. The reason they could be seen as out of touch with ‘real people’ (whatever that phrase means) is not their university education, it’s the fact that they’ve never had real jobs.

What we need are more politicians who actually have worked – who were teachers, social workers, doctors; almost any job really which gives them political experience that was not simply learnt from books.

Politics is about getting out there and actually making a difference rather than simply talking about it. What really matters are deeds, not words.