It is not often that John Major speaks out on political issues; despite being the only former Conservative Prime Minister still alive, Major has chosen to largely stay out of politics since his defeat in the 1997 election by Tony Blair. However, he has recently been in the headlines after criticising the elitism at the heart of British politics, pointing out the high concentration of politicians that have been privately educated and come from affluent families. David Cameron and Nick Clegg were both educated at top private schools, Eton and Westminster respectively, whilst Ed Miliband was raised in north London by a prominent Marxist historian. Quite a contrast to John Major’s own working class upbringing; he was raised in a small house in Brixton, and left school aged 16 with only three O-Levels.
It is understandable why Major is concerned. We are constantly being told that we live in an age of social mobility, but yet our political elite seems more like a closed-off network of privilege than ever before. It offers pertinent questions; could a working class lad from Brixton reach Downing Street in today’s political climate? My guess would be it’s possible, but not altogether likely. David Cameron’s personal connections and privileged education were largely responsible for his first job within the Conservative Party, immediately after graduating from Oxford. Against such people, what chance do the John Majors of this world have to break through into mainstream politics? And is there really any wonder that more and more people are choosing not to vote or defecting to smaller parties, out of a general disillusionment with the largely disconnected political elite that currently rules our country?