When are grads of other universities going to get a look in?
The first stop on the David Davis campaign trail was to his old university – Warwick – a move designed to make the point that he was not part of the Tory Oxford “mafia” which has been dominating leadership battles for decades.
A month ago when Cameron seemed out of the race it looked as though the Tory showdown would be between Clarke of Cambridge and Davis. Then I was commenting that “…the one almost sure thing that you can predict about the next General Election is that Oxford Universityâ€™s stranglehold on UK politics will be broken… For the first time since Stanley Baldwin in 1935 an election looks set to be won by someone who was educated at a University other than Oxford. The only exceptions in the past 70 years, Churchill and Major, were not graduates.”
For it’s not just Tory Oxonians who have dominated – the same has happened with Labour as well. The University has had an amazing run of success starting with Attlee winning in 1945 & 1951; Eden in 1955; Macmillan in 1959; Wilson in 1964, 1966, and twice in 1974; Heath in 1970; Thatcher in 1979, 1983, 1987 and Blair , of course, won in 1997, 2001 and 2005. This comes to 15 out of 17 General Elections since the war.
Gordon Brown, who showed his enormous interest in Oxford during the Laura Spence affair, might note that you have got to go a very long way back to find a general election when an Oxonian was beaten in a General Election by someone who went to another university.
Whenever, like Hague-Blair in 2001, Oxford leaders have gone down in a General Election it has been to another Oxonian.
Tory leadership battles have also been dominated by the University. The only time when an Oxford contender has been beaten by somebody who wasn’t was in 2001 when Michael Ancram came bottom in the first MP ballot and Ian Duncan Smith (Perugia) went on to victory.
So the emergence of Cameron means that British politics is reverting to type and a big question at the 2009/10 General Election might be whether Gordon Brown can break this.