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That Nice airport blog in full — Cameron would have handled crisis better if he had gone to a comprehensive

Posted on 18 July 2011 | 9:07am

It is evidence of just how badly David Cameron has handled the News International scandal that he is having to cut short a planned – and important – trip to Africa.

Indeed, amid all the talk of victims of phone hacking, the victims of the spreading famine can be added to the list. But for the scandal engulfing Murdoch, the Met and the government, our screens would be filled with pictures of the famine, and the country would be responding as we so often do.

As to why Cameron is in such a mess, we are back to the arrogance which means he thinks he can get away with whatever he decides to get away with at the time. Never mind the people now saying they warned him privately about hiring Andy Coulson, he was warned hundreds of times publicly, by friend and foe alike. I haven’t counted myself, but a twitter follower says I have written more than 30 blogs pointing out that Coulson was a disaster waiting to happen.

That sense of impending disaster -it was inevitable – should likewise have made him a little warier about some of Coulson’s former colleagues. Point to point with Rebekah indeed.
Cameron’s former press officer George Eustice, now a Tory MP, who for some time has shared my analysis of the way the media was changing for the worse, tried to get Cameron to pursue a strategy that freed him from any sense of being beholden to the media. For a while, Cameron went along with it. But then bit by bit he allowed himself to be ensnared.

It is now not beyond the realms of possibility that it will be his downfall. He really must, and soon, admit to errors of judgement and signal how he intends to learn from them. But the arrogance and peevishness that become all too apparent when he is under pressure prevent him from doing so.

It is hard to see who in the inner circle can get him to see sense on this. George Osborne is tainted because he brought in Coulson, and in any event is keeping his head down. Cameron will be suspicious of Nick Clegg right now, as his deputy is telling all and sundry that he told him so. And it is unclear to me whether any of Cameron’s staff, civil service and political, have the strength to tell him what needs to be said and done.

Meanwhile Boris is on the march, and the Met is in meltdown, and the words Cameron, character and judgement are all moving front of mind for supporters and detractors alike.

A few final points. Now that the Met Commissioner has gone, the position of Yates of the Yard becomes more difficult. It can only be a matter of time. (this was written as I waited to board the 11.50 flight from Nice. By the time we had landed, he was gone, and not before time.)

To MPs preparing for tomorrow’s select committee hearing, think forensic not headlines.

To Boris, keep at it, but don’t think we haven’t forgotten that you dismissed the whole phonehacking thing as leftwing twaddle.

And meanwhile greetings from your godson Archie Gilmour with whom I played the bagpipes at a charity gig in Golfe Juan last night. He and three fellow Etonians are doing a London to Lisbon bike ride for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, and I enjoyed our musical interlude.

I enjoyed too arguing with them that kids who go to comprehensive schools get a much more rounded education that those who go to Eton (Cameron and Boris), Westminster (Clegg) and St Paul’s (Osborne).

I can’t help thinking that if Cameron had gone to a proper school, he would not have made such an arse of things. He wouldn’t have hired Coulson, he wouldn’t have allowed himself to get ensnared socially and politically by News, and he would not have had a step by step handling strategy which can roughly be defined as ‘I was born to rule, therefore this will all go away when I tell it to’.

Now, for all his self confidence, he is beginning to wonder whether the seeds of his own downfall have been sewn … on the playing fields of Eton.

  • Anna

    Is it impossible to believe that Cameron gave Coulson his ‘second chance’ at the instigation/insistence of his friend Rebekah Brooks, thereby providing a useful conduit to News International from No. 10? Just wondering.

  • Jose

    He would have handled even better if he’d gone to a grammar!

  • Robert

    Two quick points, if I may:

    On 11th March, just arrived in Venice for a holiday, I had a call to say mom had fallen breaking her hip – personal crisis, inevitable outcome – so flew home that day to be with her and with family when she died two days later. Cameron should come home today.

    Here Rupert Murdoch speaks contrition, apologies and promises for a cleaner press – whereas his American outlets brazenly say business as usual. I hope the select committee probes this tomorrow – perhaps giving Murdoch the opportunity to tell Fox and the WSJ, face to camera, the same standards will apply to them, too.

  • Rich

    Thanks Alastair for your unique insights again.

    I must admit, I do find this entire phone hacking scandal extremely interesting with how it is being dealt with from a political and journalisitic point of view.  Apart from hiring AC, surely DC cannot be blamed for previous wrong doings that AC may or may not have been involved with, though the press and public seem to be baying for blood, and the press are feeding that habbit, even though it may in the end be to their detriment.  Are we in a free press society?  Are there too close links between politicians and journalistis?  I would say yes to both, though the press always have their agenda and equally the politicans want the press to be on side, it is an extremely difficult balancing act which I expect 99% of the time the British population do not acknowledge, but in times like this they are fascinated with.

    Nearly finished reading the Blair Years which to be honest I am finding much more enthralling than I thought I might, so thank you for that.


  • Olli Issakainen

    Will David Cameron be the PM next week? Or will the Tories throw him to the wolves to save the government?
    Even if Mr Cameron survives, he will, in all probability, be seen as “lame duck” for the rest of his term.
    William Hague who was instrumental in bringing Andy Coulson to work for the Tories, has defended Mr Cameron´s decision to meet with Mr Coulson at Chequers after his resignation.
    Mr Hague, by the way, earned £200,000 a year by writing a column for the NoW while Mr Coulson was its editor.
    Noam Chomsky´s “propaganda model” of journalism is worth mentioning here. Chomsky thought that corrupt journalists follow the agenda of their rich owners and corporate advertisers and brainwash the population into believing lies of the political and commercial elites.
    According to Andrew Neil, Rupert Murdoch acted as the real editor-in-chief of the Sun. So what did he know about phone-hacking?
    And what was the role of James Murdoch in the cover-up of the scandal. Is he next one to resign?
    Speaking of arrogance, I have lost sight of George Osborne. But I am sure he will soon be on our TV screens explaining that Japan and the royal wedding are the reasons for poor economic growth in Britain.
    Or will it be all Labour´s fault again?
    No, it will not be!
    Mr Osborne blamed Greece for his austerity package. But Greece´s debt in 2010 was 142.8% of GDP, Britain´s 53.5%.
    Much of Britain´s debt was owned by Britons, so Britain was not nearing bankruptcy as it also had its own currency and could have printed money.
    Countries can only go bust if they have incurred debts in other currencies.
    Deficit was not caused by Labour overspending, so Mr Osborne has been wrong about the past.
    But George Osborne is also wrong about the present and the future.
    His ideological cuts, which were not forced by bond markets, are now wrecking the recovery. Britain will have 1.5% growth this year, or even less.
    Mr Osborne must slow his £111bn austerity package.
    The real problem of British economy is deficiency of demand. Mr Osborne does not recognize this.
    The Tory-led government´s austerity is making the demand problem worse.
    Ed Miliband has now earned himself a platform to be heard also on the economy. Labour must now seize the agenda and win the blame game of the past and the current argument over the pace and scale of the cuts.
    Labour did not overspend. IFS has confimed that the deficit was caused by bank bailouts and recession.
    New growth figures will soon confirm that Labour has been right about the economy all the time.
    Labour left British economy growing almost 4% at annual rate. Deficit was £10bn lower than the forecast, and borrowing £21bn below the forecast.
    At the last general election 74.8% of the press supported the Tories. This has enabled the Tory-led government to tell big lies on the economy.
    But the moment of truth has now arrived.
    Greece will soon go bust, and the US Treasury may run out of money.
    The whole future of western-style capitalism is at stake.
    Karl Marx predicted that capitalism would one day collapse.
    Now is not the time for arrogance.


  • Sjt7772003

    Dream on he’ll still be there in another 8 years. By the way  written many words of wisdom about your old pal Tom Baldwin?

  • MicheleB

    Paul Stephenson ‘accepted’ a long stay at a health spa at which family members were employed and had staff benefits.  If they were allowed to pass them around among their family during low season when rooms could have otherwise been empty and therapists laid off, whose losing? 

    Such perks also involve extra spending for their duration.

    He was recovering from long-term illness (post-op?), was on paid sick leave and the spa is part of a chain that the Met itself uses for senior staff like himself to speed their recovery.

    His stay was therefore a worthwhile saving for the Met and a family matter. 

    His stay was recorded/declared with the Met.

    I still get invites from an ex-employer with whom I had very worthwhile staff discounts, am I bent because they would continue selling to exes like me at the same price as they do to their customers?

    OK he was BJ’s slot-in and I hated us losing Ian Blair but we are where we are and that is less than a year till the Olympics.

  • I know this post was cut short by lack of a connection in Nice airport, Alastair, and that will probably mean you cannot publish your comments yet. But I have just heard and read Ed’s speech and have this to say:

    Who looks like a Prime Minister now, eh?

    I am now so proud to be a member of the Party that speaks out for the many and not just the few; that is so in touch with ‘ordinary’ people (that was a funny moment during the Q&A session, wasn’t it?) that it immediately picks up on the mood of the country while the Prime Minister himself is not just out of the country (sadly, as you say, now leaving behind him a true tragedy) but also so out of touch with reality, he probably thought it ‘would just go away’ rather like the little people do when you ignore them long enough.

    No compassion, little common sense and not a clue, David – or can he show us different?

    But mainly to say, well done Ed.

    (Anyone who missed the speech, go to his blog of the Labour site).

  • Iain Muir

    Has this piece been cut short, last sentence does not make sense?

  • Cephas

    I agree with your analysis, but what has it to do with his schooling, this smacks of the tired labour rant about privilege. It seems rather a cheap shot, and I am surprised that you would stoop to this. Attack the man on his record, not his education.  

  • Tauntoncider

    Cameron has certainly handled this completely wrong up to now. Its going to be hard for him to get back the upperhand. Labour have done a good job and I hope they continue to take the lead.

    With all these ex and current NI staff working with key people in vital institutions, it makes me wonder if its just limited to the Met police and Downing Street? Competition Commission and OFCOM perhaps…

  • Richard

    You ran out of steam…..or battery. Or perhaps you could not work out where you could make your headline tie in with your text.
    When you were working for TB were you constantly ranting at him about his public schhol educational background? Maybe if he had gone to  a comprehensive he would have handled the Iraq crisis better, not been Bush’s poodle and stayed out! Maybe he would have followed your advice, told Murdoch to **** off and won three elections by even greater majorities!
    You comprehensive boys surely have all the answers.

  • Chris Boyne

    “the seeds of his own downfall have been sewn” – are you saying he stitched himself up?

  • Harrison

    It’s an intriguing idea that he’d have handled it better if he’d been to a comprehensive. I’d love you to develop it further. As an aside, would Blair have handled Iraq differently if he’d been to a comprehensive?

  • Graham

    “don’t think we haven’t forgotten that you dismissed the whole phonehacking thing as leftwing twaddle”??? I reckon Boris *should* think you haven’t forgotten, seeing as how you clearly haven’t!

  • Sazzlette

    It’s amazing to me (not as in shocked but as in hypocrisy) how labour are jumping on this bandwagon declaring moral outrage & shamelessly snatching for the upper hand with every opportunity whilst conveniently forgetting that when they had the opportunity to see this through the first time round, at the time it was actually happening – they did nothing! There are very few entirely innocent people in this whole debacle and let’s not forget we are at the very beginning of this. No one has been put on trial, no one is yet guilty of anything and most certainly we do not know the full truth in any capacity! This may yet be much farther reaching allegations and implications. I think Mr Milliband may do well to remember that – you know, just in case….

    • David Murphy

      Why are you amazed?  Any politician will do the same thing.  What is amazing is the extent everyone seems to have forgotten it al happened on Labour’s watch.  They must be delirious with joy at the way their scummy mess is being foisted on to the Conservatives.  Hopefully the people wont be so stupid as to let the shower of idiots who bankrupted us again back anywhere near power.

  • Karen J Gardner

    I strongly agree with your view that Cameron would be a better man and Prime Minister if he had gone to a proper school – but would love to understand your reasoning better. Can you elaborate – why would he not have hired Coulson if he had gone to a comprehensive?

  • scooke7

    Herr Goebbels,
    Don’t you think you should apologise for mentioning DC’s dad who passed away last year after a stroke or do you specialise only in “below the belt” hits?

  • SG

    ‘I am now so proud to be a member of the Party that speaks out for the many and not just the few; that is so in touch with ‘ordinary’ people…’

    You’ve got to be joking. The main reason Labour lost the last election was that they had become so out of touch. Now if EM manages to change this, then I’d be the first to applaud him but there’s a long way to go yet. Distancing himself from the sort of hypocritical drivel we see in this latest blog would be a good start.

  • Tell your buddies in new labour to pack in the shock and indignation, they are losing their lead because we all know they were in it too.  Softlee, softlee, catchee monkey.

  • Richard

    Now you have had a second go at your blog, your inverted snobbery is truly amazing. It must have been hell for you at Cambridge with so many of the bastards from private education, and at a time when it was necessary to get there by academic achievement at A level, or by scholarship. Did you take up your place solely to sneer at them?
    How much better you would feel if you had been admitted on straight Es  and because of social deprivation you had been allowed in on a sympathy vote! Your credentials to sing The Red Flag would be so much better.
    But would Tony have employed you if you had been a bit rough round the edges?

    • Steven Green

      Think I prefer argument and analysis to Richard’s ranting abuse

  • Anonymous

    I admit I had forgotten this. Have now removed the last line of blog. Thank you for pointing this out to me, albeit with your usual somewhat offensive line of introduction!

  • MicheleB

    Perhaps you don’t like the title, I’m not very keen but am very well aware that someone like Cameron would expect he’d get nothing less than total deference from someone he employed (especially on that dopey emotionalism – given to an ex-NoW hack – of ‘second chance’). 

    He would be used to household staff (dependent for their abodes) and witnessed the locals’ ‘respect’ for his mother due to her being a magistrate and for his father for his wealth as well as his courage. 

    He quite plainly regards state education as inferior to private so doesn’t expect anyone to be as intelligent or as ‘shrewd’ as himself, it’s another example of him not ‘getting’ what could be inate.

    He has been handled because his mind has been narrowed.

  • MicheleB

    EM is only looking good at the moment as he is being spoon fed.

    It’s as plain as day.

  • >>>>To Boris, keep at it, but don’t think we haven’t forgotten that you dismissed the whole phonehacking thing as leftwing twaddle.>>>>

    Oh we won’t foget that one Boris.
    How dare you dismiss the hack Boris? Don’t you have any sense of media ethics? I mean It’s as bad as… as…. “sexing up” a totally crap dossier in order to send an entire nation to war.

    Don’t hack those phones.

  • MicheleB

    I must say I’m getting a bit jaded with the attacks on Yates, being well aware that whispers can be as effective as bangs.

    Lots of yadder about him not prioritising the deciphering of 11,000 pgs of scribble from a cack handed grubby sneak ….. would he have needed translation lessons first? 

    Should he really have prioritised that just one year after London’s bombs when he was in charge of anti-terrorism?

    Lots of yadder about concern re him having been ‘i-c’ of terrorism, I presume that means ‘in charge of’.  What justifiable reason is there for the yadder?

    We all know how frenetic work schedules can mean things get overlooked, even things as easy as googling sentences to find their sources, something that wasn’t done when other people were terrifically busy (other people that most here empathise/d with).

    I hope all the pundits applauding the events of the last few days have bloody good nouse about who can replace that expertise.

  • Jenandhugh

    I know what has happened to the Dowler family is serious.  But that
    aside I cannot remember enjoying the political scene so much for a long time
    The logical conclusion is that Mr Cameron should resign for what is good
    for The Met and for the media should be good for politics.  Boris has shown
    a singular lack of judgement and like Mr Cameron should consider his

  • Odiri

    I’m please that all this is coming out and I champion the Guardian and others that stood by this story. That’s good investigative jkournalism.

    However, Alastair, re your comment on private/comprehensive schools. Are you therefore saying that Tony Blair was not fit to rule as he also went to a private school. In fact Mr Blair went to one of the most exclusive schoolds in Scotland, a counrty known to have some of the best comprehensive education in the country.

    Now a lot of things make sense….

  • simon

    Andy Coulson went to a comprehensive school. So what sort of stereotypical conclusion should we draw from that ?

    • MicheleB

      That he went to the wrong HE place at age 18?

  • Ha ha ! You know, I now understand how you got into trouble with dodgy dossiers. In your excited state, you write a blogpost with a thoughtless sentence. Once it has been pointed out, you delete the offensive sentence and act as though that fixes it.. And anyone who reads this later will never know exactly what you wrote. I suppose it was your misfortune/bad luck that you could not do the same with the dodgy dossier.
    Will you “man up” in your next blog that you wrote what you did & offer some kind of apology? Maybe Chilcot reads you blog. A nation awaits with baited breath…well, not really, just thought I throw that in for dramatic effect !

    • MicheleB

      AC has admitted and posted about his oversight SC so it’s you that needs to ‘man up’ d’oh.

      You also need to understand that many people are aware of your covert anti-Semitism (c/o Thick Griffin’s eventual ambition for our blood stock) so the irony of you mis-comparing an arch Nazi with him shows how seriously you take Goebbels’s crimes (as in not enough, if at all).

  • Gilliebc

    Yeah, it’s high time you cut-out the “Herr Goebbels” intro. Steve Cooke.
    I for one have told you about this before!  Besides being offensive, puerile, boring and repetitive, most of all it is grossly inaccurate.  So enough already.

    I seem to recall in a previous post I wrote that I was going to ignore your
    ridiculous intro. words.  But, that was before I learnt that you are an ultra right-wing loon, with a very obvious one track mind!

  • Anonymous

    Ooh, Alastair, you’ve touched a nerve with all these trolls.  How naughty to poke them in their complacent ribs and then board a plane.

    I have to say I always had Cameron down as a lightweight.  If only running a country were as easy as posturing at PMQs.

    You should tell us whether you think there is a direct link between the number of meetings No 10 had with News International people since the election, and the Tories’ smooth ride in the press.  

  • Alan

    Of Course Tony Blair hired you and remind me again what school did he go too. So If he had gone to a bog comprehensive you would not have been employed. happy days!!!

  • Mark Wright

    Today was the day that Ed Milliband found his narrative.

  • Barrattedwards

    ‘…the Tories’ smooth ride in the press.’ 

    Don’t forget the broadcast media – plently of favourable coverage on the BBC as well. It would have improved transparency if Cameron’s meetings with the BBC had been published as well.

  • Gilliebc

    Richard you are such a Jekell & Hyde poster!

    Sometimes you write sensible and thoughtful posts, which I and others are able to agree with and even “Like”

    At other times your comments verge on the downright nasty.  This post of yours that I’m replying to now is just bitchy and nasty imo.  Surely you are not looking to attract “Likes” from the neo-nazi trolls that have been visiting AC’s estimable blog site recently?

  • Calm down, dear, calm down.
    I do apologise for not placing my health warning at the beginning of my post. I’ll ensure that it’s added to all my posts in the future.

  • Quinney

    You can always tell when the tories are in the mire because all the right wing loons come on here for their theapy

  • Anonymous

    Agree.  But don’t you think the BBC’s compliance might have something to do with the media agenda of the Tories, who never made any secret of wanting to give Murdoch everything he sought, and who made threats to the BBC before the election?  Also, whilst I don’t have strong feelings about Chris Patten, why should any ex-politician be the BBC’s chairman?

    I dined not that long ago with someone quite senior at the BBC who insisted the BBC was a neutral organisation.  I am inclined to think the BBC merely blows with the prevailing wind, which is not quite neutrality, is it?  

  • ZintinW4

    I think Cameron just can’t get a grip on this crises largely because he lacks gravitas and lacks the ability to think on his feet. He is hopelessly out of his depth and beng exposed for the lightweight that he is.

    My worry is that his next big crises will be in Northern Ireland. If the Tories squander the peace that Labour brokered and then made real it will be a tragedy beyond words. He certainly hasn’t got the mettle to do any thing other than pretend he is up to the job of Prime Minister and makes John Major look like Einstein.

  • Anna

    I must say I was shocked that Paul Stephenson accepted a freebie of £12,000 and that he was able to declare it without repercussions. Two police officers on TV expressed amazement that a senior policeman had allowed himself to be seduced in this way. I know freebies are common in the private sector and I have no problem with that. In the public sector, it’s different. A public servant cannot allow him/herself to be put under an obligation. Imagine if, having received a generous freebie from an organisation, the officer at a later date had to lead an enquiry into possible criminality in that organisation. He could find himself in a very difficult position. It is not fanciful to conclude  that police laxity in the first phone-hacking enquiry was connected to the payments they had received from journalists.

  • Sazzelette

    Ok maybe dismayed would have been a better choice of word ;o) Same ole same ole – starts to get so boring and they wonder why a large section of society are apathetic when it comes to politics….

  • Bar Bar of Oz

    My goodness Alastair, TB must be enjoying the downfall of Yates

  • Bar Bar of Oz

    Oh and I wouldn’t be congratulating Clegg so much. He’s the one who could save Cameron’s back.

  • If David Cameron is doing so baldy, why in the latest Guardian Poll are the Conservatives ahead of Labour, Conservatives 37%, Labour 36%, in fact Labour is down by 3%. AC if your going to spin you better check the polls first or we shall be talking about someone else who is out of touch and arrogant. And AC you cant say you went to Eton, its shows. As Blair said you were old Labour, no wonder you follow Red Ed around, did you learn nothing from TB.

  • But aren’t they all? Our host AC himself ‘spoon fed’ TB if, by that term, you mean helped write speeches, shape policy, discern the populace viewpoint, mediate with the press and generally be a good friend, unafraid to say what he meant.

    In fact, I think Ed has come across better in one-to-one interviews than in delivered (practised) speeches. On this particular issue, it is plainly evident what he believes is what he is saying. Same too with Yvette yesterday afternoon.

    I await developments but can’t help but find it all very interesting politics and defy anyone to say it is all so boring – but they will.

  • I came in this morning to write to the trolls, only wasn’t going to be brave enough to say exactly that, KD. More like:

    Dear DC Chums

    A blog post on AC’s website with the word ‘Cameron’ in it was always going to send you here via the search engines.

    Regular commentators fall onto both sides of the political divide and are able to say why, how, what. Popping in because your leader’s name is mentioned – as if it wouldn’t be! – is quite funny really.

    Have a good day – what will it bring?


  • Nicky

    George Orwell remarked in England Your England that

    Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there … [it is] the military incompetence which has again and again startled the world. Since the fifties [1850s] every war in which England has engaged has started off with a series of disasters, after which the situation has been saved by people comparatively low in the social scale. The higher commanders, drawn from the aristocracy, could never prepare for modern war, because in order to do so they would have had to admit to themselves that the world was changing. They have always clung to obsolete methods and weapons, because they inevitably saw each war as a repetition of the last. Before the Boer War they prepared for the Zulu War, before the 1914 for the Boer War, and before the present war for 1914. Even at this moment hundreds of thousands of men in England are being trained with the bayonet, a weapon entirely useless except for opening tins. It is worth noticing that the navy and, latterly, the air force, have always been more efficient than the regular army. But the navy is only partially, and the air force hardly at all, within the ruling-class orbit.

    Now, Cameron’s sphere is politics and not warfare (although he’s pretty keen on that as well – plenty of cash for that but not for public services or the sick and disabled it seems).  However, like the aristos that Orwell describes, his problem does seem to be that he can’t accept that the world is changing.  (His arrogance aggravates that tendency.)  He wants his reign to be a re-run of what he thinks as the glory days of Thatcher.  However, Libya isn’t the Falklands.  And he doesn’t have a stash of North Sea Oil money to fall back on and no nationalised industries to sell off.   

    He also persists in his deluded attempt to be the ‘heir to Blair’.  I can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons he hired Coulson was because his initials were AC.  Despite their persistent character assassination, DC would have given his eye teeth to have Alastair on his team.

  • Nicky

    The poll commissioned by the LibDem-lovin’ Grauniad bolsters up the LibDem vote.  It’s probably sensible to look at the other two polls out today to get a more balanced view:

     CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9% (YouGov)
    CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11% (Populus)

  • Richard

    “Cameron would have handled crisis better if he had gone to a comprehensive.” Can you not see the stupidity behind this proposition? AC normally would not write this sort of nonsense, unless he is trying to distance himself from TB and to endear himself to the old left. (Yesterday, by coincidence, the rabid contributions from Dennis Skinner and Gerald Kaufman in Parliament would indicate that the old left, born by malice out of envy, is still alive and well.)
    Off you go into the wilderness lads, Ed to the fore.

  • tess

    I think Alastair has got a point. Kids from comprehensive schools, many of them (not all, but many) from deprived backgrounds DO have a more rounded view of the world in my opinion. Life looks a lot different when you are looking up from the bottom and it is only those who have been there that fully understand this, it is not something you can be taught, it is ingrained from the minute you are born. The majority of kids in this country do not attend private schools but do go on to be some of the finest citizens we have carrying out some of the most difficult, demanding jobs forming the backbone of our society(eg care workers working ten hour shifts for the minimum wage looking after the elderly, infirm and those unable to help themselves). They may not be schooled in Latin or the classics but many are schooled in common sense instead – they see the world and what’s happening in it and tell it like it is. In a comprehensive school kids from all backgrounds mix with one another and therefore learn from one another and like it or not, this broad mix of people is more reflective of real life and the realities of society than any private school could ever be.
    Maybe, if there were more kids from less privileged backgrounds in positions of power, not only in politics but in all areas of public life, we would have a more rounded society and not be in the mess we’re in today.

  • Pam

    Oh Olli,  You are getting very boring now……you sound just like Mr.Campbell……a broken record.

    Do you ring up Sky News and the BBC every morning….to ask if they would like to hear your pearls of wisdom.

  • PM93

    Why would AC say he went to Eton!? He didn’t! Not even in the realms of spin is lying about your secondary school useful!!!

    Also, David Cameron is doing badly, not baldy. That would imply a relationship with the Foreign Secretary 😀

  • Paul Thompson

    I thought Cameron was supposed to be a PR man? Hmmm. Got that one wrong!

  • MicheleB

    it all depends what you read doesn’t it chaps?

  • Robert

    On Louise Mensch – I see her Wiki entry has already been updated for today’s appearance before the Murdoch family.

    No mention of her asking Mr R Murdoch whether he’d consider resigning – asking not once but twice or more!

    Ma’am – RESPECT!!

  • MicheleB

    And she writes so well too ….. arf arf arf

    snort and choke ………… thud

  • Gilliebc

    I see where you are coming from now Richard and I tend to agree with this latest post of yours!

    As a matter of fact I “Liked” a post by Cephas yesterday on the subject of schools and education.

    I would just add that imho inverted snobbery is as bad if not worse than the more conventional snobbery.


    Sorry AC but it was a very weird thing you wrote and it does make me wonder if you are going to go all old Labour again as Richard suggests.

    Thought it has to be said that the way the wind is blowing at the moment maybe this could be seen as a wise move, politically speaking.  I don’t quite know.  But I’d be willing to bet that AC has a pretty good idea how all this is going to pan out!

    In fact the more I think this through, the proverbial penny for me is beginning to drop.  Crafty “boy” AC!
    As another commenter said recently, politics is getting very interesting again.

  • Ehtch

    Excellent appearance on Bloomberg on US telly yesterday Alastair, just before the Murdoch soap opera. Pity they didn’t get to listen to your sound advice. Clip of it has been posted here,

    I sense take off in all this, for all levels, was actually yesterday, but not only this hacking business, but the erosion of democracy in the UK via stealth by Murdochs media machinations for many years, involving the tory party and the Met. It will get extemely sticky for some, name no names!

    Today will be interesting to see how Cameron will perform in the Commons. Will he squrim or will he play his teflon-coated act again?

  • Ehtch

    I think you are playing with irony when you call him that, even if you do not think it. Who’s the bloke in charge of PR at the moment in No.10, Mr Cooke? They seem full of Goebbels, the whole lot that has been there since May last year.

  • Ehtch

    Wonder if Chris Patten is going to do a Hong Kong with the BBC, if you get what I mean. Well alright, he didn’t give Hong Kong back to the Chinese personally, but…

  • Ehtch

    Can’t sleep, so a couple (or 5) more points re. the Murdochs, apart from junior, who came across as a nonse, who I know I have more grey/gray cells than him. Ok, so I am jealous of him because he has a billion in the bank already, or something. Anyway;
    1. Murdoch Snr took advantage of the class war in this country with his rags, playing one off the other, that is lost post-Empire torys against the working man of the UK.
    2. Thatcher et al let him get a foot in the satellite telly coming from space, which enabled him to put multi-channels of Pink Floyd described LA type shoite into front rooms. Why Murdoch was successful in this seems Sun tory supporting reasons – especially after the ” If you support Kinnock, last one to leave Britain switch the lights off”, or something like that.
    3. I could go on further back with the LIverpool supporters in Hillsborough and coalminers strike from ’84/’85, but I might start to sound ranting…
    4. And he has made stacks of cash from numbnut UK punters with this extortionate pay-per-view satellite type of shite premier footie and boxing etc. crap, that should have been stamped on by Parliament years ago.
    5. He has corrupted democracy in this country, as seems now, and it started with Thatcher and Murdoch, for above reasons, and seems to continue, and has become part of the make-up of the tory party, rather more than the electorate.

    Glad to get that off my chest! rant over

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  • Robert

    Mr Cameron’s got a couple of these forming around his ankles!

  • Heard Portillo on Radio 4 saying his (grammar) school’s motto was 

    “Worth not Birth” 

    what an excellent way of summing up the schools debate.

  • Robert

    She wrote this before the government decided to bury low level nuclear waste by her seat or after?

  • Richard

    The immense hard work done by the vast majority of genuine British people is inspiring. The wages paid in the so called care industry area is a disgrace. There is need for much rebalancing in the economy, and the minimum wage was a start, Sad it was that the last government did not use the opportunity of economic affluence to add a further £2 or £3 per hour to the minimum wage and commence the rebalancing.

    However in respect of the balance of your posting, the chip on your shoulder is showing.

    Many people faced with poor educational standards locally, put their children into the private system to give them the best possible start in life, taking second and third jobs and sacrificing much for their childrens’ education.

    Politicians work immensely long hours, and most of them are in the job because they wnt to make a diference to the society we live in. The education which they have achieved in a large part enables them to consume vast quantities of information and analyse it quickly, whilst thinking on their feet. Most of us could not stand the pace.

    Iff however you want to revert to the old Skinner days, then follow this new line AC has headed in:

    Why don’t you…………… ban private schools? (Because students would go abroad via Ryanair to be educated.) ………………have 98p in the £ taxation? ( Because there would be a drain of excellence from the country, taking away investment, businesses, banks etc etc.)……..nationalise all savings,land and the means of production? (In a good civil war you could also geld anyone with a degree from a Russel Group University so the bastards do not breed and create more like them, and anybody with a first, or 2.1 because they obviously had too much help along the way, and maybe lived in a house where there were books.)

    Born by malice out of envy.

  • MicheleB

    She’ll probably manage to knock out a few more while a sitting MP Robert (sorry for not linking it / free sample / properly as a reply in to your other post’s cache ……) 

    What I dislike (my first time seeing any of her text) is that it has placed a valuation on the possible speech patterns of her likely audience and has written down to that.  Her grammar and her similes IRL canNOT really be as bad so she’s talking down to.

    I actually wanted to throw up at her behaviour on Budget day; yep I can anticipate the ‘miaow’ responses but her pompous description of what her own questions were going to be …. ‘tough’ ….. nope, they were just smartrrrrrrs.

    Was horrified to see that the Economist have rated her Qs the best; Tom Watson was the only one to get either of the Murdochs on the back foot.

  • MicheleB

    ofgs, anyone would think neither of you read beyond the title.

    Ye gods.

  • tess

    Richard,from the tone of your response I appear to have ruffled your feathers and am sorry for that, that was not my intent.
    I was not saying that there is anything wrong with private school or indeed anything wrong with having a privileged background – we are all human beings wherever we come from and as such we are all equal in theory at least.My point was, and it was not a political point merely an opinion, that the very nature of comprehensive (def:all encompassing) schools gives pupils a broader outlook on life because they are mixing with other students from all backgrounds, cultures and walks of life – just like in the real world. I don’t doubt that politicians of all political persuasions work very hard and that is as it should be and I for one would certainly not want to walk in their shoes. I don’t know what the ratio of politicians who went to private school is compared to those who went to a state comprehensive is but it would be interesting to find out and see if it reflects society.
    As for your final paragraph, I don’t really understand where that came from and the points you made are as far removed from my own opinions as they could possibly be.
    Education, in my opinion, is the key to creating a more fair society and the quality of the education our kids receive should be the same standard whether received at Eton or a comprehensive in Ealing, unfortunately, it is not.
    Finally, as to your comment that my post was born out of malice and envy – you couldn’t be more wrong. It may not be fashionable but I don’t do malice – life is far too short to be malicious, I would rather spend my energy in more productive ways. As for being envious, I am not envious of anyone and am perfectly happy with my life however, you are perfectly entitled to your opinion, and if you would like to think that, go right ahead.
    I admire anyone who takes a second job/third job to pay for their kids schooling and give them a better start on life but they shouldn’t have to really should they?Education should not be about money or background.
    Everyone is different and it is these differences in backgrounds and experiences of individuals that make our country the special place it is but we are never going to be truly equal until all of our kids, regardless of background receive the same standard of education across the board.

  • MicheleB

    This expands on it Hazy

    JFI (and so you’re aware if you currently aren’t) your avatar is the one used by certain BNP trolls here

  • Gilliebc

    Ye gods to you to MicheleB

    You are so superficial it almost beggars belief!  If you are hoping to be taken as a serious commenter on AC’s site or anywhere else you really must learn to read between the lines.

    But as that may involve getting your head out of your own backside for more than a minute, then I for one don’t see that happening any time soon.

    On the plus side I quite like your sense of humour sometimes.

  • Janiete

    Yes indeed, BBC’s compliance and the Murdoch agenda may well be connected. The BBC is required to be neutral but doesn’t work hard enough to achieve it.

  • MicheleB

    There is no such quality as ALMOST begging belief.

    I either do or I don’t.

    Stop being equivocal fgs.

    However, given that my post was following your own see-sawing to Richard, all I can do is sigh about people that whinge about headlines rather than articles  ….. like I said (after my ‘ofgs’).

  • Carolereeves21

    First time I’ve read your blog.  I’m impressed.  Agree 100% with you that Cameron and Co. would have been better served by their local schools.  How can they un derstand, or act in the interests of, most people if they have no idea about the lives or concerns of normal people? Best decision we ever made was to send our children to the school down the road: it did them proud.   

  • Q2Cool

    Sheesh Pam, if that is even your real name – that was a very interesting post actually – you got bored because you clearly couldn’t get your head around it – are you mentally challenged (aka dumb)? Because you sound it. Also why are you on Alistair Cambell’s blogsite if you find him to be like “a broken record”? *loco* lolz