Sunday, May 15, 2005

DD's Grandad is watching

The Torygraphs are backing DD with extensive coverage. Today Melissa Kite writes a profile (not available online, but selected highlights here).

There's no escaping the fact that his public profile thus far has been pretty low key, and all of us need to know more.

The good news is that according to Kite's piece, he really does seem to be pretty much as billed: a determined meritocrat who battled his way up from humble beginnings to the very top; pretty much the embodiment of what aspirational opportunity Conservatism should be all about.

One very interesting new (to me) bit of info is that his maternal grandfather, Walter Harrison, was a Communist Party activist, and a well-known agitator in York where he lived. In fact, he led the 1936 Jarrow Hunger March on the leg from York to Aldermaston.

Now things like that don't just happen, and it tells us something important about DD. He might have come from humble surroundings, and he might have crossed the political street on the way. But what we're being offered here is the very cream of what used to be called the working class.

These are the people who for thirty brief years after the War were given their first real chance to better themselves. The chance to climb a ladder of opportunity through the state grammar schools, on to top universities like Warwick, and thence to some serious upward mobility.

That ladder was put in place in 1944 by the great Conservative reformer, Lord Butler, and it transformed the lives of many a poor council house child (yes, OK, I was one, so I'm biased). For a time it turned Britain into a genuine meritocracy.

But of course the whole precious structure was brutally kicked away in the sixties by the arrogant champagne socialist Crosland. For socialists, equality has always been more important than real opportunity.

So here we are today, when shamefully, all the younger candidates for Tory leader are public school educated.

No wonder DD says 'The thing I feel most shame about in Britain today is that people have less social mobility than I had, not more.'

Spot on Dave.

And with your background I hope and trust that you will make that a touchstone issue of your leadership.

You owe it to your grandad and to us.

Update correction: it seems Doc Fox was also state educated, but the basic point remains.
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