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September 18, 2007



Whilst I thought Oborne had captured the essence of the current political class in his Spectator article, particularly with his description of their disregard for the judiciary, I had many quibbles with his characterisation of the Establishment of yore.

Am quite sure, for example, that huge swathes of them did not model themselves on the DoW, with many of them either taking their "Serve and Obey" public school mottos so literally as to render them deeply irrational and others displaying a woefully inaccurate sense of superiority which apparently rendered their views above criticism, and contributed to dreadful levels of ignorant prejudice - this often despite a strongly held Christian faith.

Tim Footman

It was Wellington who coined the phrase "the scum of the earth", in reference to his own soldiers. Presumably Oborne wants a return to the days when our leaders had similarly forthright opinions over the peasants they were born to rule.


"the conventional mode of leadership was based on a vestigial idea of gentlemanly conduct... It was based on understatement, sobriety both in personal conduct and in speech, self-sacrifice, restraint."

During the Napoleonic Wars Britain's two leading statesmen, Fox and Pitt, were Olympic class boozers. Fox gambled away millions (in today's turns) before getting his father to bail him out with money he (the father) had embezzled from the state. He acquired several poxes and later married one of the leading courtesans of his age (Elizabeth Armistead).

Pitt pretty much stuck to drink for his vices. It's why he died so young.

However, it was common for the sober, restrained statesmen of this to launch effusive speeches during which tears would freely be shed. For instance, when Fox and Edmund Burke – a man I imagine Oborne would approve of – fell out over the French Revolution, there was scarcely a dry eye in the house: certainly not those of the two protagonists.

Wellington himself also managed to unbutton the restraints long enough to have a dalliance with another leading courtesan of the age - Harriet Wilson. When she offered to remove all references to him from her memoirs, Wellington had the honesty to respond with his famous 'publish and be damned'.

You don't think Oborne is making stuff up about the past to strengthen his arguments about the present, do you? That would be most ungentlemanly.

Dave Hill

Three truly outstanding comments. Many thanks. Looks like I'll have to buy the damn book now...


Hi.Thanks for your post about "Peter Oborne's Political Class" .Your article make great idea to me.Thanks.

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