The new Establishment is based on patronage not class.

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.

One thought on “The new Establishment is based on patronage not class.

  1. Britain in 2022 certainly is not a meritocracy. In government service or the civil staffs at least. The quality of people both in parliament, government and the wider establishment are dire.
    I suspect that as class became less of an issue in recruitment the standards have fallen because the people actually doing the recruitment are utterly clueless as well.
    Take as one example the Metropolitan Police. The quality of very senior officers in the last twenty to thirty years has been steadily declining. As that happens it filters through to the lowest ranks who manage to get jobs in a profession they have no business being part of.
    Johnson surrounds himself with lickspittle idiots because he does not want to feel threatened by any greater intellect. He expects absolute loyalty and everyone to agree with him. Cabinet discussions from what I see become a monologue of him dictating policy. Margaret Thatcher relished an argument. Johnson detests it.
    This does not a government or decent police service make.

    Like

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