Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stigmatising toffs

The Observer has an excellent new column this week (sadly not online) in which four pundits are given a question, and each has to try to come up with the stupidest answer. The question is 'What's wrong with having 'toffs at the top', with reference to Peter Hitchens' forthcoming documentary about David Cameron.

Mary Warnock, a philosopher, kicks off with 'If we could go back to meritocracy, then whether or not there were toffs on the front benches would be a matter of luck'. Donald Macleod, a churchman, fails to understand the aim of the column by commenting that they are 'temperamentally averse to all redistribution of wealth', which is a reasonably sensible point, though we are talking about the leadership of the Conservative Party, so being averse to redistribution of wealth is arguably well within the job description. Anastasia de Waal, who works for a right-wing think tank, gets back on track with the argument that 'only private schools seem to be able to turn out today's top politicians'. But this week's clear winner is cancer specialist Karol Sikora:

"This unprovoked attack is stigmatising a group of people [Old Etonians] out of spite and probably jealousy. Imagine if it were about sexual orientation - readers would be aghast."

It reminds me of Douglas Hurd's lament, when it was felt that having gone to Eton damaged his chances of becoming leader, that he thought he was 'running for the leadership of the Tory Party, not some demented Marxist sect'.

2 Comments:

At 1:57 pm , Anonymous Margaret on the Guillotine said...

Being toffs they're averse to redistribution of wealth: is this necessarily true or a stereotype?

Tony Benn's a viscount and presumably well off - owns or owned the family pile at Stansgate? etc - he's hardly crying out for tax breaks for the rich.

It actually tends to be (with Tories at least) that the Old Etonians have a social conscience and are not scared of redistribution downwards - it's the old girls of Kesteven & Grantham Grammar you want to watch out for, who insist on tax cuts for their own in the middle class above all else, and sod anyone else.

 
At 3:08 am , Anonymous Tim F said...

Some toffs aren't averse to taxing income - but try taking their land away and see how much of a stink they cause...

 

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