This is really very amusing indeed. Nesrine Malik:
The old boys’ club. We don’t hear about it as much as we used to, do we? The phrase seems a little dusty, a bit of a throwback. Harrovians, Etonians, Wykehamists and other privately educated politicians may constitute 80% of Britain’s prime ministers so far; but they increasingly sit cheek by jowl in parliament with others who did not go to fee-paying schools, are not male, not white – and not only did not go to Oxbridge, but are not university educated at all.
And yet here we are, riffling through the seedy dealings of a small connected group of people at the top.
From the disgraced former party chair to the Richard Sharp investigation, government failure stems from a network of private schools and elite universities
Now, the subject of this ire is Nadhim Zahawi.
When he was eleven years old, during Saddam Hussein’s early years in power, he and his family fled to the UK. Zahawi was educated at Holland Park School, before moving to Ibstock Place School and then at King’s College School, an independent school in Wimbledon, London, followed by University College London, where he earned a BSc degree in chemical engineering in 1988.
Not the traditional definition of the early years of the British Establishment.
The critics of that establishment:
Harris was raised in Wilmslow in north Cheshire; his father was a university lecturer in nuclear engineering, and his mother a teacher who was the daughter of a nuclear research chemist. He became fixated by pop music at an early age.
He attended the comprehensive Wilmslow County High School (at the same time as members of the band Doves), then went to Loreto College, Manchester, a Roman Catholic sixth form college sited between the University of Manchester and Old Trafford. He applied to study Modern History at Keble College, Oxford, but was rejected, and claimed his membership of left-wing organisations had not won him many favours with such a traditional and conservative college. He spent three years studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at another Oxford college, Queen’s, between 1989 and 1992.
That’s more traditional, isn’t it?
Malik was born in Khartoum, Sudan, and was raised in Kenya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. She attended The American University in Cairo and the University of Khartoum as an undergraduate, and completed her post-graduate study at the University of London.
Alongside her career as a journalist, Malik spent ten years in emerging markets private equity.
That’s another outsider making it in.
And yes, being a regular columnist – not just the occasional column, but on contract for a long piece a week – at a major newspaper like The Guardian does make you part of the British Establishment. The description has no meaning at all if those in such positions are not part of it.
We’ve the Oxbridge son of scientists – most haute bourgeois that is – now posing as a yokel from Frome, the immigrant Arab via banking to media stardom both complaining bitterly about the Kurdish refugee who went to Holland Park Comprehensive and still succeeded.
That all three are indeed part of the Establishment seems to indicate that it’s a fairly porous thing. Given the people involved we’d hesitate to call it a meritocracy but it’s definitely porous.
And yet the actual complaint being made is that it’s restricted in membership, that Establishment. Which is to laugh, no?
Which is as it has been historically. A Wide Boy on the make has always been able to get ahead in England. We never actually did have that blocking off of the ascension of the heights that so afflicted many other European countries.
Jeez, does no one recall Widmerpool?