Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Toff Factor

According to Andrew Pierce and others, David Cameron 'will be dismayed to learn that Downing Street has dubbed his campaign team “Toffs on tour”.

It's well known that Cameron is an Old Etonian, but now it seems that all his closest supporters also went to posh schools. They include four other OEs, one Pauline (for all you oiks out there, that's an old boy of St Paul's), and one Old Benendeninendinen... or something like that. Their combined school fees were apparently equivalent to the GDP of Senegal.

Does it matter? We know that Douglas Hurd is supposed to have lost out to Major in the leadership race because he was an OE, but that was 15 years ago. Long before Old Fetteshist Tony and 'Too Posh to Wash' ushered in our more enlightened attitudes to toffdom.

Well, some of Cameron's supporters certainly think it does matter, and they suspect foul play (eg see Toryleadership Blog). They reckon the story has been fabricated by DD's friends and fed to the press to undermine Cameron's campaign before it has even properly started.

I have no way of knowing if that's true or not, but it does seem quite likely that Labour would at some point target Cameron's old school tie, particularly once Tony departs. So why disbelieve the Downing Street provenance ascribed? Labour's spin meisters must be watching our slow-motion shambolic leadership contest with unalloyed delight. And it's only too easy to imagine them chortling and giggling around the TV as they try out tabloid headlines for size. 'Toffs on Tour' is for Cameron, but I expect they're trying out some equally snappy one liners for Our Man. That's just showbiz.

We supporters of DD do not want to undermine David Cameron. In fact, as we've posted previously, we'd very much like him to throw in his lot with Our Man.

But the big picture is that in an era of Presidential elections, DD's 'backstory' will be a very strong selling point for the Party next time. And as we all know, to win, we have to reconnect with voters well beyond our comfort zone of the affluent Southeast and the shires.

That's not to say we couldn't succeed with an Old Etonian at the controls. But at the margin, other things being equal, taking one thing with another, at this particular moment in time, ceteris paribus, ipso facto, mutatis mutandis, per ardua ad astra, it may possibly just turn out to be somewhat less than disadvantageous not to be led by a toff.

There. You can't be more reasonable than that.


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