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

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22 Responses to “Are the Tories playing class warfare?”

  1. Ben Cooper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Are the Conservatives playing class warfare? Their website is selective about MPs and PPCs schooling

  2. SSP Campsie

    RT @leftfootfwd Are the Conservatives playing class warfare? Their website is selective about MPs and PPCs schooling

  3. Working Class Tory

    Err.. what about Ed Balls? He’s in charge of Education, yet he went to a private school

  4. Working Class Tory

    Is he therefore unfit too?

  5. Bill Kristol-Balls

    “I want every child to have the same opportunities I had”

    David Cameron 2009

    Probably best not to mention he went to Eton (£26,000 pa) after saying that.

    It’s quite a big unfunded spending commitment / promise / aspiration.

    Bet you could play conkers without goggles at Eton though. I’m so envious.

  6. R A

    Either that or they perhaps think that the school they went to or their parents sent them to is less important than university, work, career, views, policy and track record in politics. You know, adult life… We are voting for adults not in a “your school was more priviledged than mine” playground contest

  7. Bill Kristol-Balls

    @ Working Class Tory, where does JS say going to public school makes them ‘unfit’?

    @ R A, if the shcool thing is unimportant why is it that the privately educated ones don’t mention it but the state educated ones do?

  8. Billy Blofeld

    Kill the political parties and make more of the countries decisions directly democratically actionable by the people.

    That would end the crass class war between the political parties – class warfare between the parties is one of the reasons they are a millstone around the countries neck.

    People are interested and able to take decisions which directly impact them and their communities. It ain’t hard. Kill Labour. Kill the Tories.

    Let me vote on more issues and let me direct my national insurance contribution at the services which will best serve me best.

    I don’t need some point scoring arsehole in Westminster to tell me what is best.

  9. OxfordSpring

    Dont you think its a matter of personal choice for the MPs to talk about their backgrounds?

    Shame the Labour Party website doesnt have any biographies – nice side-stepping of the issue there. Although if we follow the logic of this article, it is because they are entirely ashamed of everything they have ever done!

  10. Liz

    Billy Bloefield – I don’t really think your pay as you go tax idea would work or is the best way forward in terms of delivering a civilised society – (even though Maggie T was and probably still is in denial that society exists). Taxes are a necessary some might say evil. We just need someone with vision to put forward a good, positive argument why we should pay taxes and not shy away from this.

  11. Ben Cooper

    The Tories & selective schooling: (via @leftfootfwd) #ToriesNeedAnEducation

  12. Billy Blofeld


    Disagree. Give me National Insurance Dollars to spend on the NHS hospital that is best able to meet my selection criteria.

    Hospitals will vary their price according to their facilities, current capacity, specialists available, MRSA statistics etc…

    Demand from people will “pull” resources into the most appropriate hospitals. ‘Just In Time’.

    Hospitals will not need expensive consultants trying to second guess efficiency measures and direct resources. The people will place their NHS dollars and the resources will flow to the right place at the right time.

    NHS services which are under used will die (use it or loose it people). Other hospitals will be able to attract more investment and become even more specialist in fields such as cancer or heart care etc.

    In essence: This model delegates responsibility from politicians to the people. How can some central planner in Whitehall second guess the day to day planning needs of an organisation like the NHS? Let the “demand” of the people pull the central government investment through.

    This would increase the quality of the NHS. It would increase quality for all and not by postcode. It would allow more spent on the frontline and less wasted on management.

    All I’m suggesting is applying “Lean Manufacturing” concepts in a hospital environment. We could have world class NHS with the amount we spend.

    Take responsibility away from politicians and QUANGO’s. Give power to the people. Let “actual demand” govern the NHS and not theoretical models planned months in advance.

  13. Liz McShane

    Billy – think it would cause anarchy if nothing else. What about all the research and pioneering techniques that The NHS is great at – not always profitable but essential. How would you pay for this plus all the medical training? something that BUPA et al don’t do but are happy to reap the benefits from free of charge.

  14. Guido Fawkes

    One privately educated politician who hides his privileged background, and embarrassing pictures (wearing Nazi uniforms) from his drinking days at Oxford is Ed Balls. And he went to Eton for term…

  15. Billy Blofeld


    BUPA would be mad if it didn’t make it’s capability available to NHS with NHS Dollars to spend. Thus NHS patients will have access to equal facilities as private patients. BUPA customers would in fact part fund the NHS.

    Research and pioneering hospitals would further improve. If Great Ormond Street attracted more “child patients” from across the NHS, then the amount of money and funding flowing their way would increase. More funding means, more money spent on research and pioneering development in children’s medicine – because that is what “actual demand” warranted.

    Anarchy? How? A hospital with excess capacity would drop it’s NHS dollars price for a given operation and regulate flow across the whole NHS system.

    There would be some level of NHS management in my model, just a lot less, since “actual demand” governs the hospital and tens of thousands or bored, half worked NHS staff or overpaid commercial consultancies.

  16. Guido Fawkes

    Not forgetting Yvette went to Rodean and Cheltenham if I recall correctly.

  17. Anon E Mouse

    Diane Abbott said: “Private schools prop up the class system in society. It is inconsistent, to put it mildly, for someone who believes in a fairer and more egalitarian society to send their child to a fee-paying school.”

    When Prime Minister Tony Blair sent his eldest son, Euan, to the London Oratory, a selective school, she criticised him, saying people voted Labour because they believed in equality.

    When the countesses niece, Harriet Harman sent her son to a selective grammar school in Orpington, Kent, she said: “She made the Labour Party look as if we do one thing and say another.”

    And “You can’t defend the indefensible – anything you say sounds self-serving and hypocritical.”

    Diane Abbott sent her son to a £10 000 / year private school…hypocrite.

    Anthony Charles Linton Blair, Labour, privately educated beat John Major, Conservative, educated at the local comprehensive.

    Says everything really about this bunch of creeps – they are not “Labour”… now Estelle Morris – she’s Labour…

  18. TVI Pay It Forward

    Are the Tories playing class warfare? | Left Foot Forward

  19. David Jones

    Billy Blofeld,

    Your ‘model’ has already been tried – on Buses and Post Offices – look how that ended up.

    How are you going to assign ‘NHS Dollars’ to people before you know if they’re ill and what they need?

    What happens to people who live a great distance from any hospital that chooses to treat their particular illness – this would happen to far more people under your model than it currently does.

  20. Liz

    Billy – when it comes to health I don’t really think you can apply simplistic market forces of supply & demand. I agree that there is always room for improvement vis a vis The NHS – less high level management, bring back matrons, no outsourcing of ancillary services (which has been a major culprit in the rise in infections such as MRSA and general lapse in basic hygiene etc).

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