Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, George Osborne, Jo Johnson, Rory Stewart. All, public schooled. All politicians that are leading or ex-leading members of the Conservative party. And all members of the notoriously elitist, snobbish and exclusive Bullingdon Private Members Club.
Back in 2015, around the time of the general election, a now infamous photo of members of the Bullingdon Club, including Boris Johnson and David Cameron was discovered by Versa magazine on the walls of the exclusive outfitters Ede and Ravenscroft.
Since then, I have been fascinated how members of leading British political parties are accepted by the public as people who care about the country’s wellbeing, when a decade ago they were proud members of an organisation which expressly touted elitism and aristocratic privilege.
They are duping the public about their personal values: a leopard cannot change its spots. With Dominic Cummings’ interview from the Downing Street garden ringing in our ears, it’s time to confront the question: why are politicians’ past actions so easily brushed under the carpet?
Back to the Bullingdon, the club has been banned from meeting within 15 miles of the City of Oxford as a result of a “night of debauchery” in 2005. Significantly, members pay a £10,000 entry fee, in addition to the £3,500 for a custom-made dining uniform to take part in the “ritualised violence”, which characterise their meetings. The values this club stands for are undeniably questionable.
Ask yourself: would you trust a (reformed) gambler with your life savings? Probably not. Why then does the British public continue to entrust the reins of Government to individuals who belonged to a group that ostentatiously enjoyed trashing others’ belongings? This being a troop made up of a particular social caste who pay more than a third of the average wage for their privileges.
Analogous to the gambler, just because they no longer have a flutter at the horses, does not mean they have left behind all sympathies for an afternoon at the bookies. Again, I pose the question, how genuine are their nods towards equality for all?
As an ex-public schoolboy, I had everyday interaction with individuals who were consciously, and overtly elitist. It is these people who go onto populate the membership of the Bullingdon and similar clubs. Significantly, it is also these sorts of people who have, and continue to, become parliamentary heavyweights.
Is it a wonder that Jeremy Hunt “failed our NHS”?. His track record is one of elitism and privilege. How can we expect him to understand the health needs of the UK, let alone ensuring the poorest section of society are accounted for?
Our Prime Minister is not an egalitarian. He must find it amusing that people still believe what he says after the number of times he has publicly ‘mislaid’ the truth. Put simply: we do not hold those in the public eye to the same standard as we hold those in our private lives. It is time we changed that.
Most reasonable people would argue that someone who has been a pathological liar in the past, could rectify their ways. However, are ex-mob bosses capable of this sort of change of habit? Given the extremity of the elitism in the Bullingdon, ex-members resemble the latter.
Much as we would hesitate for an ex-gambler to be entrusted with our money, politicians of decadent clubs who specialise in vandalising other’s property should be treated with the same suspicion. Old habits die hard.
I’m not saying humans are not capable of development of political views. We are. Yet it would take a stunning transformation for these individuals to detach themselves fully from their prior political alignments. Underneath Boris’ blonde mop still lives the man who tipped his way out of trouble after meetings of his dining club. I implore the public to see beyond the clever rhetoric. The Bullingdon brand boils deep in his blood. It’s time we remembered that.