In this morning’s Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle makes the same mistake as Labour’s Chris Bryant in relation to the whole James Blunt, public school, privilege thing.
Bryant’s original language was pretty unpleasant:
… we canâ€™t just have a culture dominated by Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk
His comments were somewhat ironic given that he himself is a product of elite public school Cheltenham College, one of the Rugby Group of public schools.
No-one seems to have spotted the silliest part of Bryantâ€™s original comments. He said:
Where are the Albert Finneys and the Glenda Jacksons? They came through a meritocratic system.
Albert Finney attended Salford Grammar School and Glenda Jackson (Labour MP as well as actress) attended West Kirby County Grammar School for Girls so Bryant is dead right about a meritocratic system. But, it is one that has been systematically dismantled and not replaced on any scale until the Coalition came along and allowed Michael Gove to push through his school reforms. The harsh fact is that it is hard to excel without a demanding education and that applies to the Labour party nowadays as much as any other walk of life.
Rod Liddle himself cites John Osborne (public school Belmont College), Richard Burton (Dyffryn Grammar School and Oxford University), Terence Stamp ( Plaistow County Grammar School) and and author David Storey (Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield) as â€œworking-class heroesâ€ making the same mistake as Bryant himself.
There is a pattern here isn’t there? Attainment in any field is often based on a demanding education. Making sure more people get one of those is the main point and the driving force of Gove’s reforms.