Are the Tories playing class warfare?

Commentators are claiming that Labour is embarking on a strategy of "class war". But the Conservative are making selective use of MPs' school background.

Leading commentator, Benedict Brogan, today claims that Labour is embarking on a strategy of “class war” but are the Conservative also playing this game?

The Meet the Shadow Cabinet’ section of contains a variable approach to MPs’ school background. David Cameron’s entry makes no mention of Eton while the entry for his chief lieutenant, George Osborne, makes only the anodyne statement that he was “born and educated in London”. Indeed he was, at the exclusive St Paul’s School. Cheryl Gillian’s entry merely reads “Born in Llandaff, Cardiff and educated at local schools until the age of ten,” while omitting to mention that she was later schooled at the prestigious Cheltenham Ladies College. Her own website mentions the Ladies College.

Meanwhile other MPs’ biographies, including Greg Clarke, William Hague, and Philip Hammond, contain details of their state school educational background. This trend is played out again and again on the biographies of the Tory PPCs.

Andrew Lansley used the “class war and politics of envy” defence to explain Gordon Brown’s PMQ attack on Eton on the Daily Politics yesterday. Responding to a specific question about the education listings, Lansley said he had “no idea” why they were left off and referred to his own schooling at private Brentwood School, which does appear on the Tory website. John Hutton said, “they know it’s a problem; they leave it out.”

Perhaps the truth is that the true schooling doesn’t sit so well with their new-found ‘commitment’ to tackling the problems of poverty and inequality.

A longer version of this article appears on

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.