Sunday, 5 December 2010
Tory leaders intellectual lightweights and student yobs?
Wikileaks: We discover Obama sees the Tory team as "lightweights" and that Mervyn King said about Cameron and Osborne that they had a "lack of experience and tendency to see issues only in terms of politics".
Osborne had also been identified by Labour as the "weak link" in a supposedly already intellectually dubious team.
Incidentally, George Osborne did not just change his name from Gideon. It's a very little know fact that Osborne also changed degree part way through. He switched to Modern History while at Oxford (from PPE, I believe - Politics, Philosophy and Economics). Switching degrees after the first year is a fairly unusual thing to do, usually prevented or at least strongly discouraged by colleges and universities unless there are very good reasons for doing so. But who knows the actual reason for George's switch? So far I have only heard a very interesting as yet unsubstantiated report from a contemporary of his that he switched because he found the economics too hard. Be very interested to hear from anyone else who knows more about George's reasons for switching degree after a year....
Perhaps, as is widely suspected, Osborne is not the sharpest pencil in the box. But student yob? Before pointing a finger at students who broke windows in the recent tuition fee protests, indignant Tories should note that Osborne was a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club while at Oxford. Here's wiki:
The Bullingdon Club is a socially exclusive student dining club at Oxford University. The club has no permanent rooms and is notorious for its members' wealth and destructive binges.  Membership is by invitation only, and prohibitively expensive for most, given the need to pay for the uniform, dinners and damages.
Today, the Bullingdon is primarily a dining club, though a vestige of the Club's sporting links exists in the support of an annual point to point race. The Club President, known as the General, presents the winner's cup and the Club members meet there for a champagne breakfast. The Club also meets for an annual Club dinner. Guests may be invited to either of these events. There may also be smaller dinners during the year to mark the initiation of new members. Membership elections are held twice a year, when successful new members are visited in their rooms, which are then 'trashed' as a symbol of their election. The Club's modus operandi has often been to book a private dining room under an assumed name, as most restaurateurs are wary of the Club's reputation for causing considerable drunken damage during the course of the dinners.
Andrew Gimson, biographer of Boris Johnson [also a member], reported about the club in the 1980s [when George Osborne was a member S.L.]: "I don't think an evening would have ended without a restaurant being trashed and being paid for in full, very often in cash. [...]
The difference between these toffs and the recently protesting students who broke some windows is, I suppose, that the latter didn't brandish a wad of notes afterwards and say, "There you are my good man - that should take care of it. Now fuck off."
Photo is of Osborne in his Bullingdon club outfit. Cameron was a member too.
The New York Times told its readers in 1913 that "The Bullingdon represents the acme of exclusiveness at Oxford; it is the club of the sons of nobility, the sons of great wealth; its membership represents the 'young bloods' of the university".
The acme of exclusiveness indeed.