« | Home | »

First-Class Leadership?

Tags:

What’s unique about this election? The quality of the debate? The riveting closeness of the contest? The charisma of the party leaders? The visionary vistas opening up in front of the British people as we contemplate the party’s rival visions for out future?

None of the above. What’s unique is that it’s the first time (at least in the last hundred years or so) that both of the main parties are being led by somebody with a first-class degree. Brown got a first in history at Edinburgh, Cameron a first in PPE at Oxford. ‘Thick Nick’ Clegg only has a 2.1 (social anthropology, Cambridge). When I stumbled on this fact, I was prompted to wonder if Brown was the first PM with a first. Not so – Harold Wilson also had an Oxford first in PPE. Attlee, Heath, Thatcher and Blair all had seconds from Oxford (in history, PPE, chemistry and law, respectively); Balfour got his second from Cambridge in moral sciences. Baldwin was the only 20th-century politician to earn a third (Cambridge, history). MacDonald, Churchill, Macmillan and Major either did not start or did not finish degrees, for a variety of reasons.

One oddity is that Brown is the only non-Oxbridge PM with a degree, and also the only one to have taken a PhD. And his government has presided over the sharpest ever decline in working conditions for academics. Go figure.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • Alex Abramovich on Come Together: Thanks for this, and the other comments, Timothy et. al. This is thorny, problematic stuff—well worth going into at length (I've spent sixteen years...
    • Timothy Rogers on Come Together: There’s a general cluelessness exhibited by the above chain of comments. As to how American black teenagers and older pop music fans felt about whi...
    • martyn94 on Money for nothing?: i suspect that I'm possibly the only person here who has actually tried to do the sums for UBI in anything approaching the real world. The late Ralph ...
    • IPFreely on Lesvos Burning: Al Jazeera seems to be the only TV programme that regularly reports on the situation and also gives reports on the numbers of refugees crossing by boa...
    • bevin on Cameron Quits Again: "Taking the state on a joy ride and crashing it,.." The EU was doomed from the beginning. It is very difficult to trick people into believing that ne...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement