Sunday, 28 April 2013
How Britain Was Lost On The Playing Fields Of Eton.
Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, once famously observed "The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." The inference was that the battle was won because of the dedication and genius of those educated at that school. Of course it was utter nonsense. The battle, like all battles, was won by the guts and sheer bloody-mindedness of the rankers who did the actual fighting rather than sitting on a horse patting each other on the back. And, if not for the timely intervention of the Prussian army commanded by Gebhard von Blücher, the battle would have been lost. Now we have another moron telling us that only those educated at Eton are fit to lead the country. This particular chinless wonder is Jesse Norman, the Tory MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, who has claimed that Eton is better than other schools at teaching "commitment to public service". But, as Mike Griffiths the headteacher of Northampton School for Boys observed, "I have not heard of many old Etonians becoming social workers because they are so wedded to the idea of public service, have you?" No, me neither. What Norman was actually saying is that Eton instills a sense of entitlement in its pupils and a firm belief that only they deserve wealth, titles and nice shiny little gongs for simply doing a job. His further observation that "Things like rhetoric and poetry and public speaking and performance are incredibly important to young people succeeding in life," gave the game away. No mention of work, no mention of effort and no mention of any practical skills. For the Tories its all about the art of the confidence trick and the glib skill of the dodgy car salesman. They are to a man strangers to real work but they certainly know how to talk a good fight. Which is why people still believe that Waterloo "was won on the playing fields of Eton" while the truth is it was won in infantry squares by impoverished boys who played in the back streets of London, Birmingham, Manchester and, dare I say it, Berlin.