Monday, March 05, 2007


Down at Clare College, they’ve finally given up trying to excuse their surrender to the headchoppers. Instead, they’re trying the rhetorical equivalent of taking their ball home, claiming that it’s all an internal matter. If only.

Then there’s David Cameron. Don’t be shocked, but it turns out that the Future Greatest PM Ever was a member of a club made up of deadbeat, over-privileged yobs with a hatred of state school pupils and Jews. But enough about the Tories. Apparently, Cameron spent his Oxbridge years in a club which revolved around £1000 meals followed by wrecking the restaurant, with side-lines in sexual assault and violence. See ? It is a training ground for the nation’s leaders, after all, except that we can’t ask them what they did there because it was all a long time ago, and they were young. So, which is it ? Is an Oxbridge education proof positive of superior status, or is it a meaningless interlude ?

Of course, Oxbridge has always relied has on its own version of the light in the refrigerator problem, arguing that they’re so super smart that only other super smart people can appreciate their super-smartness. Their medics can’t cut it, the physics lacks gravitas and engineering is a train wreck, but that’s OK because they aren’t here to waste their time getting bogged down doing a job any old prole with a scalpel could do, they have special, generic skills, they’re leaders, strategists, visionaries, they’re….David Cameron.

See, this is where the rubber meets the road. If you’re USP is your supposed leadership qualities, people are going to expect you to demonstrate some actual leadership. It’s harsh, but there you have it. That’s why Clare College's surrender could never be an internal matter, not as long as the products of these places keep penning paeans to their special status, vis-à-vis drones from places like Imperial or Edinburgh. Not only because their conduct is the very definition of unfitness for command, but also because their self-appointed role as the natural rulers of Britain means that their conduct reflects unfairly on the nation as a whole.

This is what connects Cameron with the folks at Clare. Both claim an entitlement to power, even while renouncing the responsibilities that should come with it. Forget any talk of the balance between centralisation and localism, or cunning plans for remaking the tax system. None of that matters until we can find some actual leaders.

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