The Bullingdon Bash Street Kids

May 22, 2008 at 7:26 am | Posted in British Politics, Conservative Party, David Cameron | Leave a comment
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Let tories be tories! End discrimination against the rich! Jonathan Freedland on class and the Crewe by-election:

Class has been a factor in the byelection campaign, with Labour hounding Timpson for his silver-spoon upbringing, despatching volunteers to the constituency in top hats and tails. And class has become a factor in our national politics, with Labour proving that it has, as yet, no idea how to handle it.

At least the Tories clearly understand their vulnerability in this area. Note their forceful efforts to have a Labour flier, featuring a mocked-up photo of Timpson in a topper, suppressed. Note their more serious, and successful, campaign to have that now legendary – genuine and undoctored – photograph of the Bullingdon Club circa 1986, featuring Cameron and Boris Johnson in full regalia, withdrawn from circulation. (Luckily for them, newspapers have complied with this edict, even though the image is just a Google away.) These are pretty strenuous exertions for a party that says it’s relaxed about background, insisting that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s where you’re going that counts. As Stefan Stern wrote in the Financial Times last week: “If David Cameron is so proud of the ‘great school’ he attended – it was Eton, by the way – why does he never mention it by name in public?”

Aye, if only the country weren’t so crippled by inverted snobbery – whatever have the mega-rich done to deserve being made to feel embarrassed by their extravagant wealth? Well, over in this small corner of blogtown, we celebrate diversity wherever it may be, which means that when we give this image another outing…

…we only do so to celebrate expert tailoring, 70’s hairdos and good breeding. 

For those keeping score, Boris is #8, whilst #2 is Tony Hadley David Cameron.

From the Telegraph:

As members of the Bullingdon dining club, which dates back more than 150 years, David Cameron and his friends were obliged to wear the outfits for their annual photograph. But within hours of the photo being taken, the 10 young men were wreaking havoc on Oxford, where they were all at university. One of them, said to be Ewen Fergusson, threw a plant pot through a restaurant window and the police were called. Some tried to make a getaway but were arrested and thrown in police cells overnight.

“The party ended up with a number of us crawling on all fours through the hedges of the botanical gardens, and trying to escape police dogs,” said Boris Johnson, who was among those arrested. “And once we were in the cells we became pathetic namby-pambies.”

Twenty years later most of the young men in this photograph are facing their 40s. Ewen Fergusson is a successful corporate lawyer and Boris Johnson is the shadow spokesman for higher education. Cameron is the leader of the Conservative Party, who said recently: “Like many young people, I did things when I was young that I should not have done and that I regret.”

He was probably referring to his youthful involvement with cannabis rather than the Bullingdon Club, but the destructive activities of the club mean that many of the members have developed an appropriate amnesia. “The blissful sponge of amnesia has wiped clean the slate of memory,” said Mr Johnson.

“Until I saw that photograph I had really forgotten all about it,” said another former member.

The Bullingdon modus operandi is to book a restaurant under a false name, smash it up, and throw large amounts of money at the upset owners — a form of behaviour which dates back to Victorian times.

See, they’re just ordinary folk like you and I – behaving like ‘rascals’, getting into ‘japes’, committing ‘tomfoolery’. The only difference is that most students vomit on the street after a ‘back to school’ party or think it’s hilarious to steal a traffic cone, whereas this lot just happen to smash up restaurants. Absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about…

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