Tuesday, 12 April 2011


The prime minister has accused his alma mater of having a "terrible record" of enrolling students from state schools and upset a lot of people. He further accused them of having enrolled only one black student last year.

The university said that the figure was "highly misleading" relating as it did only to British students who described themselves as black Caribbean. Oxford had in fact admitted another 27 students who were black African and another 14 who described themselves as mixed race.

Across the UK, it emerged after some research, only 452 black students had achieved the Higher or A-level results that Oxford demand. In total Oxford had taken 42 of these, or a little under 10%. Remembering that there are many other top flight universities in the UK; Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, London, Durham, Cambridge... amongst many more, it seems not unreasonable to me that Oxford would take only around 10% of them.

Mr Cameron’s assertions were described as "ignorant", "absurd" and "mind boggling" by MPs and academics alike.

It seems that controversy follows Cameron wherever he goes, mainly because of his irritating habit of opening his mouth and letting his lack of knowledge show. And considering he got the very best education that money can buy, that seems rather sad to say the least.

Last week Cameron's claimed that Britain was responsible for many of the world's problems, specifically relating to the on-going conflict between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. He then unleashed a foul mouthed outburst at the journalist who had written a critical article about it.

On one of his early trips to pay homage to Mr Obama at the White House, he conceded that Britain was a junior partner, and stated plainly the US stood beside Britain in 1940...which of course they had not. It was on that visit that he was also critical of the Scottish Government’s position on the Lockerbie bomber in bizarre attempt to curry favour. None of these things should be said or done when a prime minister is out of the country... and as a history graduate from Oxford himself, he might have known the date on which the Americans joined the Second World War.

The Conservative chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, Graham Stewart, said the government was wrong. If minorities don't get into the best universities it is because they don't receive a sufficiently good education in the first place. He suggested that the way to deal with the low intake of minority ethnics by top universities was to provide that education, rather than demand that the universities reduce their standards to meet some lind of politically correct target. A pretty damming indictment from his own party.

Anthony Smith ex-president of Magdalen College said: "It does seem to me that these politicians don't know anything about the country they are governing. Do they not know what the condition of schools is like in areas where many black children are brought up? Do they not read the newspapers and see what goes on there, how difficult it is for a child from one of these communities to get into any university?”

A waffling spokesman for the prime minister said Mr Cameron was trying to make a wider point about the unacceptability of top universities having so few students from minority ethnic groups. If he was, he was doing it rather ineptly.

In fact, as the most recent figures showed that 2% of the population was black, and that 1.5% of the Oxford student body was black in the last academic year, the figures are not as bad as they at first appear.

But why let the truth get in the way of a good rant for no particular reason...eh Dave?


  1. Morning, Tris. Graham Stewart is spot on with this one - as are you. Cameron is an air-headed embarrassment who hasn't grown into the role demanded of him. Have linked because you've just saved me the job of doing a post on it myself!

  2. Morning GV. Yes, Graham Stewart said exactly what I have been thinking for a long time. Out of touch with reality is an accusation that can be levelled at most governments. The UK one’s members live in a funny world of privilege and sycophancy, working in a royal palace where the laws of the land don’t apply, surrounded by fawning “yes men”, demanding special treatment, mixing with kings and presidents, and never standing in a bus queue, or on a deserted station platform at night, or holding on a call, listening to muzak and being told that their call is important but all X’s customer service assistants are busy right now.

    The trouble with the current lot is that (with the possible exception of Mr Pickles) they have NEVER done that kind of thing, so they have no idea and can’t begin to imagine, what life is like outside the privileged world of the very rich in which they have grown up and continue to live. They’re detached from reality, and even their own backbenchers can see it.

    Thanks for linking. I did it very late last night because I was so angry with Cameron!

  3. Tris....Thanks for this article. It gives me an excuse for a rant about a subject near to my heart. As you document the antics of the Prime Minister and the Westminster government, doesn't it occur that it's all just part of a much larger problem? That the British people have simply never shown any real capacity for self governance.

    We Americans showed them the way in 1776. An hereditary monarchy should never have survived the Middle Ages. So what did the English do when they actually abolished the Monarchy in 1649? And I mean they REALLY abolished it! The severed head of King Charles. The destruction of the Crown Jewels. YES...it was the chance for the British to create a republic, the only acceptable form of modern government.

    So what happened? The British people were terrified to suddenly find themselves without a King. First, they made the blood-drenched manic-depressive Cromwell a King in all but name. And when Cromwell died, even more chaos ensued. What did the English do then? They sent abroad for the son of the King they had killed a few years earlier, and invited him back to be their new King. Madness!!!

    Of course they ultimately discovered the mistake they'd made. So a few years later, they had a revolution. Did that revolution create a republic? Not a bit of it! In fact, the British had invited a foreign invasion. And that "invasion by invitation," which they later termed a "Glorious Revolution," had the effect of installing a FOREIGN King on the throne of England.

    The sad story goes on and on. The people of Britain are demonstrably incapable of self government. And beyond the splendid example of the American revolution, I just don't know how much more we Americans can do to help you. Lord knows, we've tried.

    And BTW, the Catholic Royalist Scots have no better record than the English in this regard. Many of them are still weeping bitter tears for Bonnie Prince Charlie and the lost cause of the Stuarts. Hopeless I say!!

    Sorry about this being off-topic. But sometimes it's hard to make an historical rant fit neatly into a blog on current events. Although it does fit with Scottish republicanism, sort of. ;-)

  4. Danny: to be fair the French were not much better. Since 1790 they have had five republics, two royal houses (Orleans and Bourbon) two Bourbon restorations (April 1814 and March 1815), an Orleans restoration (1830) and three empires (Napoleon: 1804- April 1814 & 20 March 1815- 18 June 1815 and Napoleon III 1852-1870).

    As for our half-wit in Chief....oops!

  5. Oh and Danny to be fair it was an English republic and civil war. Britain did not exist as a country per se until after 1707 with the Union of the Parliaments. The Scots changed sides several times and even sold the King to the English at one point!

  6. Munguin...I suppose that it was the accident of James VI of Scotland being the heir to the throne of England that ultimately led to the Union of the Parliaments at all. Yet another testament to the evils of hereditary monarchy. And yes, one must say that the French have never shown much real capacity for self government either. Whatever else the Americans did right or wrong, they didn't ever flirt with reestablishing a monarchy. (Leaving aside the personal and political popularity of George Washington who might have become a de-facto King if he had wanted it.)

    And compared with France, American constitutional government has been moderately successful. If you disregard the failed first constitution of 1781-1787, and the breakdown of the federal union itself in the Civil War with the southern confederacy of 1861-1865.

    The French don't even seem to have a lot to be proud of when you consider the nature of their revolution. One of the issues which divided Adams and Jefferson in the early days of the nation was their view of the French Revolution. Adams was horrified by the Terror. Jefferson was (at least at first) much less critical of the French. Jefferson was more inclined to revolutionary rhetoric about "[watering] the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants." Modern Americans often want to forget such incendiary revolutionary exhortations of Jefferson, in favor of the soaring rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence.

    Totally off-topic, but on the subject of abolishing monarchy, this is a nice historical piece about the independence debate in the Second Continental Congress during July 2-4, 1776. (From about 1:30 to 8:00 in this clip.)


  7. PS Munguin: You "SOLD" the King back to the English? Well whatever knack the Scots may have for republican government, they certainly seem to have a well honed business sense when it comes to the issue of monarchy. ;-)

  8. PPS: I just hate it when my emoticons are dismembered by the text editor.

  9. Sorry, Tris, cannot agree with your head-line. WE DO NOT NEED A PRIME MINISTER - sorry for shouting! What we need is independence from anything to do with Westminster and it's inmates. They can all feck off!!

  10. Tris...and on the subject of clowns and heads of government. Here in the states, we're in the first year of the two-year process which elects a President of the United States. There is a real estate billionaire and TV reality show star who, although he has not yet formally declared his candidacy for President, is currently polling number two in straw votes among Tea Party Republicans for the GOP nomination. Donald Trump has jumped on the extreme right wing "birther" bandwagon which claims that President Obama was not born in the USA...he was likely born in Africa....and thus not eligible to be President.

    The New York Daily News ran an article yesterday about Donald the clown. Complete with his picture in red nose and grease paint.


  11. He he... Danny and Munguin, the history buffs. What can I add? ... Not a lot.

    Suffice to say that you’re right Danny. The English aren’t much good at the governance stuff. They are far too busy wondering who should be sitting above the salt, and what order people come into a room and what is the correct for of address for a marquis. Bloody daft if you ask me.

    It’s a well known fact that a Scot never gives anything away, so we probably sold the English a king... but on things like that it is always better make sure that, if they turn out to be useless, there is no money back guarantee!

  12. JB... I apologise for the inappropriateness of the heading. You’re right of course. It’s my very dearest wish. Lord knows we’ve shown we can do it. With smaller and smaller settlements every year, John Swinney has balanced our books and still provided us with better services than England.

    Imagine if the competence of our government was extended to foreign affairs, war, taxation and social security. What an inspiring thought that we should have safe hands on the tiller instead of the fire fighting, crisis management of this bunch of amateurs.

  13. Afternoon all. Since reading all this hoo-haa I wondered how many Scots went to Oxford or Cambridge. After all we're a minority in the great scheme the unionists call Britain.

    Not many Scots would be able to afford to go to these elite universities because they don't accept us unless we're at least 18. Now some youngsters get their necessary highers at 16 or 17 but that's not good enough for the SE. They suggest one or even two 'years out'. Only very wealthy parents could afford to keep a 16 or 17 year old for two years and they usually can't find suitable work when they say they'll be moving within a year or two.

    So, I just wonder, how many Scots do go there.

  14. Danny.... LOL...

    Trumpy for president?

    Hell. That's a bit of a joke. Mind you, the guy who did the same sort of reality tv show in England got a seat in the house of lords and became a sort of minister in the Brown government, so...

    He seems to think Obama is afraid?

    OK... I've yet to see Obama look in the least worried, about anything. I hardly think Trump or Palin is likely to make him tremble!

  15. You have that right Tris! Obama is not in the least worried about the crazy people on the Republican right wing. For Donald the Clown of course, this is all just a part of his publicity machine.

  16. Danny: He's supposed to be building a great colf and leisure complex in Scotland, creating thousands of jobs. That should be taking up most of his time. He won't have time for little things like the presidency of the USA!!!

  17. Sorry SR....Good afternoon... I missed your comment earlier.

    I don't know how many Scots go there. I only know one person who went to Cambridge, and one to Oxford.

    Most of my mates, in fairness, wouldn't have wanted to go to an English university chosing Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews if they were bright enough for top tier unis.

    It would be interesting to know how many chose the English top class ones.