Vicki Woods

Can an Etonian be Prime Minister?

Vicki Woods says Eton is probably the best school in the world, and does her best to forgive OEs their grating charm and intimidating good manners

The craze for internet spread-betting that has swept through City trading floors and the suburban housing market has finally gripped me; for three weeks I’ve been a slave to gambling websites. Up nights, tapping away…. Actually, it’s one website — Politicalbetting.com — which is not exactly a gambling site, more an online tipping service. And I’m not looking to bet, I’m looking for David Cameron.

I know, I know. Call me flighty. Back in May I was all for David Davis as opposition leader for the upcoming and possibly rather grim Brown years. Cameron, 38, was — well, a bit young. (What was I thinking? Etonians are made men at 18.) But on 9 June his rather appealingly 18th-century face was posted on the site alongside: ‘Can the Tories choose a toff? Does being an Old Etonian still disqualify you from being Tory leader?’ The accompanying post noted that this country’s last Etonian prime minister (out of 19 OEs) was Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Forty years ago, at the time when leaders were not voted in but simply ‘emerged’.

So, there’s Cameron, on my screen in his country-shabby navy jumper, looking inescapably toff-y, and I was curious to see how the punters would respond. Two hundred did vigorously, knowledgeably and politically. (Also coarsely.) The main thrust was a) it’s the parliamentary party that’s worried about supposed toffiness more than voters ever are, b) Cameron ‘looks nicer’ than Davis, and c) the dream ticket — for lots — would be Clarke and Cameron, if only Clarke were younger and Cameron older. They noticed his ‘youth’ but what mutterers call ‘David’s Eton thing’ passed them by.

Let’s deal with the Eton thing right now. Cameron’s name is never mentioned in print without the word ‘Old Etonian’ tagging it.

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