This resonated with me.
I went to Cambridge, not Oxford, and was not from so ‘lowly’ a background as this former student. But Cambridge gave me my first experience of the Public school ‘types’ described here, both the Cameron and the Johnson versions, which I’ve had no reason to modify since. I too came from an ordinary ‘Grammar’ school, though one which had ‘higher’ pretensions (it has since gone ‘private’); I also had what is now described as an ‘Estuary’ accent; and a bad stammer. I was occasionally mocked on all these counts, but managed to get through – and even to make friends – by a strategy of exaggerating my plebness, and avoiding the most ghastly – Johnsonian – of my undergraduate colleagues. This, I found, made me pretty well accepted by the less obnoxious Public school products, who seemed to take to me; proudly, even, as their ‘token pleb’, evidencing how tolerant they were. In other words, I was patronised rather than persecuted. An example of this – which I may have recounted before – was when I invited an old Etonian friend, an ‘Hon’, no less, back to my room for coffee. He noticed a University ‘Labour Club’ card on my mantelpiece. ‘I didn’t know you were Labour, Bernard’, he said. ‘I think if I were in your shoes I’d be a socialist too.’ At the time I took that kindly. It was clearly how it was meant. Thinking about it afterwards, however, I wasn’t so sure.
We had the obnoxious Boris-types in my college too; but they usually kept to their own, usually in the ‘Pitt Club’, which was probably the equivalent of the Oxford Bullingdon Club. (I never went inside. I believe it’s a pizza restaurant now. Good.) Their ‘humour’ was generally sneering, very class-orientated, sexist, full of Public school slang (designed to exclude the non-cognoscenti), and terribly childish and superficial, I thought. But they obviously regarded themselves as the bees’ knees, and – of course – born to rule the rest of us. Very PG Wodehouse, and quite loveable – at a distance, and for short while. But then one tired of them – if you weren’t one of them yourself.
Some of them will have grown out of this – most of us do mature from our school days – and so still be recyclable into valuable members of society; even perhaps politicians. From what I’ve read of and by Boris, however – journalism, a couple of ‘serious’ books, a novel – it’s quite clear that he hasn’t. He’s still nothing but a stunted-development, privileged, unprincipled, clever-but-stupid Public schoolboy. In sum: he’s the very last sort of person to be Prime Minister. Unless, of course, you just want a personable puppet to seduce the country into your late-stage capitalist wet-dream.
God help us! – Unless He’s a late-stage capitalist too.