Anthony Sampson described the then “ Establishment” in a book called “Anatomy of Britain” back in 1962. The commanding heights of post war Britain were occupied then by the old school – officer class, public school, silver spoon types. They had been mocked by the bright young things from Amis to Osborne to Pinter and Braine. But they were still in charge.
When “ Beyond the Fringe” opened it was the first time a Prime Minister had been parodied on stage – poor old “Supermac” , that most establishment of Prime Ministers. Peter Cook and Co. invented satire and the status quo was gently rocked. Their characters were not exaggerations , they held up a mirror to society.
But in a society in which Boris Johnson is Prime Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Cabinet and Nadine Dorries is Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport surely satire is dead ? The governing class satirises itself daily. But it is as incestuous as that which Sampson described.
The new Establishment is based on patronage not class. Of course honours and preferment have always been used as rewards by those in power but today it is so naked. If you catch Boris’s eye, and were sound on Brexit, a seat in the House of Lords is yours, Buller or not.
It’s hard to know what anyone in authority really thinks any more. Perhaps they don’t think, just parrot what those they aspire to join say. When one breaks cover, as JK Rowling did, she is cold-shouldered despite being indisputably right.