Sunday, May 18, 2008

The clot thickens

A quick update to what's below. The Mail's headline: "Labour's Tory-baiting 'toff' exposed... as a toff" pretty much sums it up.

Alex Norris, 23, one of two Labour supporters who posed in "toff" gear, went to Manchester Grammar, a £9,000-a-year private school that has some of the best academic results in the country.

He has been the public face of a Labour drive to portray Tory candidate Edward Timpson, 34, as privileged because of his wealth and his education at Uppingham public school in Rutland.

However, Mr Norris's own private school – founded in 1515 – is older than Uppingham (1584) and ranks substantially higher in academic league tables.

(Ah, how I appreciate the Mail's effortless talent for gleeful malevolence as shown in that final paragraph).

If you wish to read the full story be warned that you will see deeply unpleasant pictures of a rather smug-looking public school boy in a cheap and nasty shirt and a tie of almost indescribable tastelessness (insert own connection between that and Labour's sub-BNP tactics here). I would suggest this stunt is letting the old school down somewhat, but there is also something about young Norris's consciously unfastened collar, carefully dishevelled tie (you'll note he is careful to avoid the distressingly commonplace "footballer's Windsor knot) and cocksure expression that evokes (rather too strongly for my tastes) the eternal public school sixth former.

I suspect we'll be hearing from this fellow again in the future.

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Blogger dominic said...

Let's hope the Tories win this by-election - Labour's campaign is absolutely disgusting.

10:28 am  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

So all you have to do to be considered a 'toff' these days is go to a 'fee-paying school'? Have standards really sunk so low?


11:20 am  
Blogger bill said...

Puss, if we are judging these matters by the standards of the Labour party and the Daily Mail, then that it is indeed all that's needed. But if that is our benchmark, things have sunk pretty low indeed.

Dominic: in certain regards, and not without qualifications, and taking due account of context, more or less, approximately, to some extent you have a point. Alternatively we could hope for the ground to open up and swallow Crewe and Nantwich.

11:42 am  
Blogger dominic said...

Well, given that - what is it, 8% of the population go to an independent school of any description, I'm not sure it's unfair necessarily or always to jump to conclusions about the social background of those who attend such places, let alone even minor public schools, especially since the abolition of the assisted places scheme and so on.

Bill, are you claiming NOT to be a toff?

12:49 pm  
Blogger bill said...

I am not claiming to be anything, I think I am above petty, class-bound insecurities and snobberies.

Besides, most fee-paying schools are terribly bourgeois institutions. Oh and Timpson is from a 'trade' background which surely disqualifies him as a proper 'toff'.

1:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh please, MANCHESTER Grammar School?! Are we claiming that this Northerner has any claim to being posh? And it really is one of the minor public schools, any old boy could tell you that.

I also believe his place was on a scholarship. I mean, really, letting poor people in is bad enough, but then allowing them to claim upper-class credentials off the back of this free education? Absolute filth.

I say shoot anyone who didn't go to Eton. Thank goodness London saw sense by voting in the ever-so-in-touch-with-the-people-but-still-suitably-toffy-if-somewhat-fame-seeking Boris.


1:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on, Anon. Blunt sarcasm is just about all this post deserves.

I'm pretty sure a free place, won on merit in entrance exams, does not immediately make this young labour chap an overprivileged ivory tower graduate.

7:00 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Ah, yes. The "I was on a scholarship" defence worked so well for Boris Johnson and Douglas Hurd when seeking to downplay the criticisms of their public school background.

More generally, anon 2 (would it kill people to think of an alias even if it's just a.norris?), I'm guessing you therefore accept that public schools are great institutions and it's a good thing that people from different backgrounds can benefit from them?

It's a fair point, it's just I don't personally agree with it. I think they are enormously damaging institutions. However, that's beside the point. It's difficult to attack people who've personally benefitted from them for having a public school background once you've accepted that there's nothing with so doing – as long as someone else pays.

It's bad enough that the Labour party is being racist, childish, vindictive and classist, but hypocrisy is something I can't stomach.

9:52 pm  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

Last refuge of an embattled party, make a feeble attempt at 'class war' rather than mention anything so inconvenient as policy etc.

One suspects the two anons are the same chap, so suggest you let him continue talking to himself.

12:11 pm  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

Incidentally the Labour Candidate, Ms Dunwoody, is the granddaughter of a Baroness, is in Burke's Peerage, and is the owner of a substantial plot in Wales. No Toff she. Nor, I am sure, is it behaving anything like toffs of old for children to inherit seats in Parliament ...

2:28 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Indeed, P-Ump, although I somehow doubt she will inherit the seat after all.

Grandfather Morgan Philips was also Labour party 'aristocracy'.

Incidentally, it's a curious feature that politics in republics, certainly Anglophone ones like the US and Ireland is often remarkably dynastic.

5:37 pm  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

And so it didn't work after all. Oh well, next time they can try sending people in boiler suits to give the message that the Tory's an oik ...

9:36 am  

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