Sunday, January 28, 2007

What School, Prime Minister ?

Balfour - Conservative, Eton (fee-paying, private)
Campbell-Bannerman - Liberal, free grammar ("For centuries it was an integral part of the city's educational system, but in 1976, despite its high standing and achievements, it was closed when education in Glasgow was reorganised along 'comprehensive' lines.")
Asquith - Liberal, private
Lloyd George, Liberal - free parish school and home-educated;
Bonar Law - Conservative - free grammar, the same one that educated Campbell-Bannerman
Stanley Baldwin - Conservative, Harrow - fee-paying, private
Ramsay MacDonald - Labour, free parish school (he was a pupil-teacher at 15 - bright students were recruited as teachers and learned at the chalkface)
Neville Chamberlain - Conservative, Rugby - fee-paying, private
Winston Churchill - Conservative, Harrow - fee-paying, private
Clement Attlee - Labour, Haileybury - fee-paying, private
Sir Anthony Eden - Conservative, Eton - fee-paying, private
Harold Macmillan - Conservative, Eton - fee-paying, private
Sir Alec Douglas-Home - Conservative, Eton - fee-paying, private
Harold Wilson - Labour, State grammar
Edward Heath - Conservative, State grammar
James Callaghan - Labour, State grammar
Margaret Thatcher - Conservative, State grammar
John Major - Conservative, State grammar
Tony Blair - Labour, Fettes - fee-paying, private

For thirty three years, from 1964 to 1997, State grammar schools provided Britain with five successive Prime Ministers, before the previous public-school dominance was restored - ironically by a Labour Prime Minister.

A public-school education produced some pretty cool dudes, though - not that I'd ever thought of Harold MacMillan in that category before.

"During the Battle of the Somme, he spent an entire day wounded and lying in a foxhole with a bullet in his pelvis, reading the Greek writer Aeschylus in the original language."

UPDATE - Speccie interview with schools minister Lord Adonis.

The good :

The battle to reform state schools has been a bloody one for Tony Blair, on a battleground which his party regards as sacred. From the offset, Lord Adonis has been his chief adviser. Ten years ago he was a journalist writing about education in robust terms. He denounced the ‘comprehensive school revolution, which destroyed many excellent schools without improving the rest’. He deplored the end of grammar schools, a move ‘carried out in the name of equality but which served to reinforce class divisions’.

It’s the kind of stuff which is too hardcore for a Conservative manifesto these days. Yet its author tells me he still believes every word. ‘I have not changed my mind in ten years,’ he says. ‘If I could redo the 1960s and 1970s education policy, I’d do it very differently.

The frankly depressing :

But I think the debate has moved on from the abolition of the grammar schools. Nobody sensible, including today’s Conservatives, David Cameron or David Willetts, wants to turn the clock back.’

He maps out a three-pronged consensus: that education spending must rise, reform must continue and there must be no return to selection by ability. ‘The Conservatives have accepted that too. They’re not for bringing back grammar schools either. Put all this together and we have established a new consensus.’

So he thinks abolishing grammar schools was a disaster, and that's the way it's going to stay.

And could someone tell me what the point of voting Tory is again ?

UPDATE2 - "A telling hiss of heresy from Tony’s blue-eyed boy" says the Sunday Times.


Anonymous said...

Macmillan may have been a Tory but he was certainly a "Doctus vir et Graecis litteris eruditus"

(A learned man, and well-read in the Greek literature).

Anonymous said...

apologies for the superfluous "the" in last posting.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Tony Blair has ever read a book, even in English?

Anonymous said...

Verity, he's read the Koran, it is apparantly 'remarkably progressive'.

Anonymous said...

Verity, he's read the Koran, it is apparantly 'remarkably progressive'. only in Penguin - Eden read it in Arabic

Blair confessed to Woy Jenkins he had a large gap where historical knowledge ought to be....and has now qualified as a footnote himself

Anonymous said...

As Ronaldus Maximus would say, those who favour appeasing Islam, = read the Koran, those who hate Islam, understand it.

dearieme said...

And only two Englishmen among the first seven.

Anonymous said...

It was Macmillan who published Keynes General Theory with a special deal whereby Keynes' subsidised it.

Macmillan was interesting - after all he had been closely involved with Eisenhower in North Africa; and had his time on The Somme.

Attlee was at Gallipoli (must have been interesting discussions with Churchill !) and Mesopotamia.

Eden won an MC at Ypres and told Hitler they had probably been in facing trenches

Asquith lost his firstborn son, Raymond (Scholar at Balliol) on The Somme

Baldwin used his personal funds to help pay down the National Debt and was a cousin of Rudyard Kipling who held the Nobel Prize

Chamberlain went to study Metallurgy at a Science College in Birmingham to run the family firm, Nettlefolds (GKN) after a period as a sisal planter.

His half-brother won the Nobel Peace Prize and died just as Neville became Prime Minister. In fact Sir Austen had dined with Bismarck in his youth.

Laban said...

voyager, why don't you blog ? You're a fount of interesting history.

Anonymous said...

Somehow these historical figures seem so much greater than our current political class. The present crop of lawyers and media reptiles seem like pygmies in comparison.

Or is it just the rose coloured specs of historical distance?


Anonymous said...

Jim Callaghan attended Portsmouth Northern Secondary School, which I suspect was a forerunner of a secondary modern or comprehenisve, rather than a grammar.

Anonymous said...


Jim Callaghan's school was a Grammar. It is now a comprehensive known as "Mayfield School".

As I have said before, the question you have to ask is, given that the whole point of grammar school was to offer a better education than secondary moderns, why did Labour close the grammar schools down to extend the secondary moderns as "comprehensives"? Very little public speaking etc in comprehensives so not a great chance of ever seeing a PM from one of them. Reasonable at producing factory fodder though.

Is Labour an upper-class conspiracy to nobble the middle classes?

Or is Labour trying to achieve equality by nobbling those that could be high achievers?

Or both?

Anonymous said...

given that the whole point of grammar school was to offer a better education than secondary moderns, why did Labour close the grammar schools down to extend the secondary moderns as "comprehensives"

It was the Conservatives who introduced Comprehensive Schools - Edward Boyle - Education Minister under Macmillan.

It was the middle class Tories who hated it when their child failed the 11+ and had to go to Secondary Modern while the hairdresser's child passed the 11+.

Getting back to the good old days when money bought access was the middle class dream and it has been achieved with postcodes, crammers, and fees