IS IT any wonder that we are becoming increasingly disengaged with politics?
Most of the individuals who govern us move in the rarified atmosphere of a parallel universe which bears little resemblance to normal life in Britain 2012.
Half of the Cabinet and a third of all MPs went to private schools, compared with 7% of the rest of us. David Cameron was educated at Eton where annual fees are a top hat short of £30,000 – over £3,000 higher than the 2011 average British wage. Tony Blair went to Fettes, the Scottish equivalent of Eton, where the boarding fees are a snip at just £25,860.
Royds Hall Grammar School boy Harold Wilson will be turning in his grave. It was he who broke the Eton Prime Ministerial mould of the Fifties and early Sixties when he took office in 1964.
First class honours at Oxford don’t grow on trees and, by all accounts, David Cameron was a highly intelligent student who worked hard for his. But he had all the advantages that money can buy.
Prior to following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps to Eton, he attended Heatherdown Preparatory School in Berkshire, as did the Princes Edward and Andrew, although, it has to be admitted, neither of them are renowned for their intellectual prowess.
Like Ed Milliband and a worrying number of MPs from all sides, Mr C went straight from university to work as a political researcher without ever having to suffer the trials and tribulations of a real job in the commercial world outside of Westminster. Unemployment will never be an issue for this clique as long as all parties continue to successfully tap their multi-millionaire chums for funds.
Born to a wealthy stockbroker, Mr C is reported to have an eight-figure personal fortune which, depending on which newspaper you read, could be more or less than his aristocratic wife Samantha’s family fortune of £20 million. He and his privileged colleagues travel from their luxury homes to the House of Parliament and other important assignments cocooned in chauffeur-driven limousines. The rest of us struggle with infrequent buses and overcrowded and often delayed trains or Tubes as the system groans under the weight of passengers, while Ministers refuse to invest sufficient funds in an integrated public transport system.
At a time when many front line health services are facing cuts, our politicians are not panicking; many have their own private health plans. Unless they get run over by the number 47 bus – which is becoming increasingly unlikely – or suffer an emergency, they can retreat to the comfort of the soft sheets of a private hospital for all other treatments. It’s a vicious circle, most of our current crop of top politicians send their children at some stage of their education to private schools where class sizes, anti social behaviour, violence towards staff, SEN education and 101 other things they make decisions about never or hardly ever come into the equation.
So if our politicians are not personally and physically involved in the normal everyday life of the country, who is it that’s disengaged – us or them?
The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of disengaged is “emotionally detached”. That, in a nutshell, is our politicians. They rule us, and the country, like we are part of some great intellectual challenge; a real-live Krypton Factor. Trying this, tinkering with that to see what happens. Not to worry if it doesn’t work, simply reverse the decision and try something else.
For years the French paysans have rallied against their political elite. It is well documented that our Gallic neighbours have an unofficial system where almost all of their leading politicians come from a narrow echelon of high society. It seems that, by stealth, we too now have this system.
It was therefore with some amusement and pleasure that I read this week that David and Samantha Cameron had inadvertently left their eight-year-old daughter behind following a meal out.
Mr Cameron may have his faults, but leaving Nancy in the pub isn’t one of them. For a brief moment, he seemed just like the rest of us.