What Boris Johnson has successfully disproved is the claim that the traditional British elites, through upbringing, heritage etc, are uniquely qualified to govern the country (Britain’s overgrown Eton schoolboys have turned the country into their playground, 2 May).
What Eton seems to have taught its students is the desire to govern, but not the knowledge of how to. A sense of entitlement is not a sufficient qualification for leadership. Take the example of the Eton alumnus Anthony Eden, who was responsible for the Suez crisis, one of Britain’s greatest diplomatic disasters.
The problem for Britain is how to purge this most destructive of groups from the body politic. While the political system is structured to favour this group, such radical change can’t come from within parliament, it must come from without. Possibly the secession of Scotland, troubles in Northern Ireland and the economic disasters resulting from the diplomatic cold war with Europe will have a similar cathartic effect. When the contempt and disgust that the minority feel for this ruling elite becomes the mainstream view, only then will the political traction be found to remove them from power.
• The sad thing about John Harris’s excellent article is that this is not news. This country has a long history of suffering at the hands of public schoolboys. In the 1930s, the journalist Cyril Connolly, reflecting on his time at Eton, suggested that the effect of public schools on their students was to arrest their development. He called this “the theory of permanent adolescence”, which seems to me perfectly to describe the irresponsible behaviour of Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Jacob Rees-Mogg et al.
The real problem is why we, the 93%, still put up with it and why so many vote for them.
• John Harris talks of “an ancient system that trains a narrow caste of people to run our affairs”. I’m not sure these people can be described as a caste, but one clear defining characteristic is that they are all men. If, as Harris says, we have to confront “a great tower of failings that, to use a very topical word, are truly institutional”, we have to recognise the privilege that these institutions give to men over women. How crazy is it in the 21st century that Eton is one of only four remaining boys’ boarding-only independent senior schools in the UK (the others being Harrow, Radley and Winchester)?
Eastbourne, East Sussex
• Your journalists have comprehensively and admirably analysed the dire influence the old Etonian duo of David Cameron and Boris Johnson have had on the fortunes of this country. But let us not forget the contribution made by George Osborne, the third member of the infamous Oxford Bullingdon Club triumvirate, who, more than anyone, was responsible for the savage consequences of the austerity years: the Teflon man who now hides under the radar, busily feathering his own nest in as many well-paid jobs as he can get hold of.
• Please can we know the name of the school’s careers adviser during the Johnson, Cameron and Osborne years?
Bishops Cleeve, Gloucestershire
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