I have reproduced below an analysis by Dr Gerald Morgan, FTCD (1993) of The Chaucer Hub, Trinity College, Dublin 2 which offers reasons why the Conservative and Unionist Party (which now styles itself as “The Conservative Party”) were ineffective and politically inept in opposition and, consequently, so unrepresentative of England and her people.
It should be borne in mind that Dr Morgan’s analysis preceded both the financial crisis which came to a head in September 2008 and the May 2010 General Election. However, the main thrust and indeed many of the facts remain valid today. In addition to the 59 Scottish MPs (and they are Scots!) and 40 Welsh MPs returned as representatives of Scotland and Wales, an additional 10% of MPs are returned by England’s Constituencies (when Labour MPs are included) who would not be prudently regarded as putting England’s interests first and foremost.
WHY THE CONSERVATIVES HAVE BEEN SO INEFFECTIVE AND POLITICALLY INEPT IN OPPOSITION
‘England confides (var. expects) that every man will do his duty.’
Kenneth Clarke has rightly said that Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq has been ‘a catastrophic error’. Even more catastrophic, therefore, has been the decision of the Conservative Party to back that error in opposition. It argues for a mixture of credulity and self-interest (in the narrow sense) and it goes against the instincts and judgment of the people of England as a whole. Of course, these days the English have little input into national decisions at the highest level, as we see from the composition of New Labour (largely a Scottish-based party) and also (atop) of the Liberal Democrats.
But why have the Conservatives been so singularly inept? The answer must lie in the composition of the 198 Conservative MPs, and particularly those who have been in positions of influence in the Conservative Party for a number of years. A cursory examination (which I hope others will help to fill out) shows that there is a disproportionate number of Old Etonians in the 198 and also of Scots who represent (or have been translated in the event of their failure in Scotland to) English constituencies. I give my initial findings, based on the (somewhat inadequate) Conservative website as follows:
I. Conservative Old Etonians.
1. James Arbuthnot. Hampshire North East.
2. Henry Bellingham. Norfolk North West.
3. David William Duncan Cameron: Witney.
4. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: Cotswold.
5. Philip Dunne. Ludlow.
6. David Heathcoat-Amory. Wells.
7. Douglas Hogg. Sleaford.
8. Nick Hurd. Ruislip-Northwood.
9. Boris Johnson. Henley.
10. Oliver Letwin. West Dorset.
11. Nicholas Soames. Mid Sussex.
12. Hugo Swire. East Devon.
13. David Tredinnick. Bosworth.
14. Sir George Young. Hampshire North West.
To these we may add MPs educated at leading public schools such as St Paul’s (George Osborne, Ed Vaizey), Charterhouse (Tim Yeo), Rugby (Andrew Turner, Nicholas Winterton), Westminster (Peter Bottomley, Dominic Grieve, Anthony Steen), and Winchester (John Whittingdale). We may also add the legions of Old Etonians in the unelected House of Lords.
II. Scots/Anglo-Scots Representing English Constituencies.
1. Michael Ancram. Edinburgh University. MP for Berwickshire and East Lothian 1974; Edinburgh South, 1979-1987. MP for Devizes, 1992-2010 .
2. David Cameron.
3. Christopher Chope. ‘Born in Britain in 1947’ (Conservative website). St Andrew’s University. MP for Christchurch.
4. Stephen Crabb. Born Inverness. Educated Haverfordwest. MP for Preseli, Pembrokeshire.
5. Iain Duncan Smith. Former leader of the Conservative Party. MP for Chingford and Woodford Green.
6. Michael Fallon. Born Perth. Craigflower School, Fife, Epsom College, and St Andrew’s. MP for Sevenoaks.
7. Liam Fox. St Bride’s High School, East Kilbride, and Glasgow University. Woodspring (North Somerset).
8. Michael Gove. Born Edinburgh. Robert Gordon’s College, and Aberdeen University. MP for Surrey Heath.
9. James Gray. Born Glasgow. High School, Glasgow, and Glasgow University. North Wiltshire.
10. Charles Hendry. Edinburgh University. MP for Wealden.
11. Daniel Kawczynski. Stirling University. MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham.
12. Julie Kirkbride. See Mackay. MP for Bromsgrove.
13. Eleanor Laing. Born Paisley. St Columba’s, Kilmacolm, and Edinburgh University. MP for Epping Forest.
14. Jacqui Lait. Born Glasgow. Paisley Grammar School, and University of Strathclyde. MP for Beckenham.
15. Ian Liddell-Grainger. Born in Scotland. South Scotland Agricultural College. MP for Bridgwater.
16. Andrew Mackay. Born 1945. Son Hamish (and, by Julie Kirkbride, MP for Bromsgrove) a son Angus Robert. MP for Bracknell.
17. David Maclean. Born Black Isle, Cromarty. Fortrose Academy, and Aberdeen University. MP for Penrith and the Border.
18. Anne McIntosh. Born Edinburgh. Edinburgh University. MP for Vale of York.
19. David Mundell. Born Dumfriess. Lockerbie Academy, Edinburgh and Strathclyde Universities. MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale, and Tweeddale.
20. Malcolm Rifkind. Born Edinburgh. George Watson College, & Edinburgh University. MP for Pentlands 1974-1997. MP for Kensington and Chelsea.
21. Richard Shepherd. Born Aberdeen. MP for Aldridge-Brownhills.
22. Graham Stuart. Glenalmond College, Perthshire. MP for Beverley and Holderness.
23. Desmond Swayne. St Andrew’s University. MP for New Forest West.
24. Hugo Swire. St Andrew’s University. MP for East Devon.
These Scots include Conservative MPs rejected in Scotland, such as Michael Ancram and Malcolm Rifkind, and ambitious young Scottish Tories unable to make headway in Scotland and seeking to further their ambitions further south at the expense of local English politicians. We may note that these MPs for the most part have virtually life-tenure in Conservative strongholds in the south and west of England. And that the Scottish connection is reinforced by and reinforces the Etonian connection. Our Etonian lightweights seem to have Balliol and Oriel as favoured colleges in Oxford (Oriel, founded in 1326, by Edward II, the vanquished English king at Bannockburn and, ironically, carrying the badge of England; presumably the founding of Oriel was one of the last acts of that unhappy king, prone to indulge favourites at the expense of the well-being of his kingdom).
We may observe that the Scots and Anglo-Scots bear a heavy responsibility for the War in Iraq. A Scottish Prime Minister (ed. Fettes) and a Scottish Chancellor took us into Iraq (deceitfully and illegally) and Scottish Tories (Iain Duncan Smith and Liam Fox) made it possible for them to do so. In this period English students were discriminated against in Scottish Universities and fox-hunting in England was banned. Further, the English remain without their own parliament while the Scots have their own parliament on which lavish sums are spent at a time when the English taxpayer is discriminated against in comparison with his or her Scottish counterpart. Who will speak for England? Obviously not the Conservative Party. Who will speak for peace? Obviously not the Conservative Party (with the honourable exceptions of Kenneth Clarke, Malcolm Rifkind, and a few others).
The Conservative Party is not a national party at all in any meaningful sense, but a system of vested interests reflecting ancient privileges and class distinctions. There are too many Old Etonians and too many Scots in positions of influence for the Conservative Party to be credible as representing English working-class interests in our great cities and in the midlands and north of England. This corruption of our democratic system has been made possible by the iniquities of the first-past-the-post system of parliamentary election in England (but not in Scotland). The Conservatives may not be able to win any elections but they know how to place their favoured sons and daughters (Old Etonians, promising Scots, and perhaps, as examples of Althusserian over-determination, Scottish Old Etonians) in constituency fiefdoms with impregnable majorities. The success of Napoleon was based (apart from his own military genius) on his willingness to promote soldiers on a basis of merit (Lannes, Masséna, Ney, Soult, etc.). It took a great Englishman to put an end to his imperial designs off Cape Trafalgar. It is a lesson in 2007 that we still have to learn, for the career of Lord Nelson was impeded for many years by the Old Etonians and their allies of his own day.
III. Welsh Conservative MPs.
1. David Davies. MP for Monmouth.
2. Nigel Evans. Born Swansea. Dynevor School, and University College, Swansea. MP for Ribble Valley.
3. Cheryl Gillan. Born Llandaff. MP for Chesham and Amersham.
4. Damian Green. Born Barry. MP for Ashford.
5. Michael Howard. Born Gorseinon. Llanelli Grammar School. MP for Folkestone.
6. David Jones. Ruabon Grammar School. MP for West Clwyd.
7. Julian Lewis. Born Swansea. MP for New Forest East.
8. Anne Main. Born Cardiff. Swansea University. MP for St Albans.
9. Patrick McLoughlin. Cardiff Griffin Comprehensive School. MP for West Derbyshire.
10. Maria Miller. Brynteg Comprehensive School, Bridgend. MP for Basingstoke.
11. Robert Walter. Born Swansea. MP for Dorset North.
12. Bill Wiggin. University College, North Wales. MP for Leominster.
IV. Colonial Conservative MPs.
1. Sir Paul Beresford. A New Zealander ‘born and bred’ (Conservative website). MP for Mole Valley (Dorking and Leatherhead).
2. Richard Spring. Rondebosch, and Cape Town University. MP for Suffolk West.
David Davis said in the aftermath of Round 2 of the voting for the Conservative leadership that the Conservative Party is ‘the most democratic party in the world’. Either he is in denial or has an hitherto unsuspected Chaucerian or Swiftian sense of irony. On the face of it ‘The Daily Telegraph’ was nearer to the truth some weeks ago in claiming that Zimbabwe is more democratic than the Conservative Party. The person who wrote under that headline, Charles Moore, turns out himself to be an Old Etonian. He certainly ought to know.
Gerald Morgan (grandson of Augustus Morgan, killed at Trafalgar Colliery, Lydbrook, 10 September 1917, aged 41; nephew of Albert Morgan, BEM, Waterloo Colliery, Lydbrook, 1953), Lydbrook County Primary School, Monmouth School, Jesus College, Oxford, and Dublin University; Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin (1993).
17 February 2007