Denis Skinner’s recent gibe at Tory Ministers ,and George Osborne in particular, is brilliant (even if the phrase was coined by another). For me- it will be a defining epithet for the coalition- it sums up the best and worst of the Cameron-Clegg-Osborne axis.
My son goes to the same school as George and his son William. He recently did rather better at his exams than either he or the school expected and is now, on the face of it, supposed to be clever.
Nothing that has passed through me has ever been that clever and I reminded him of that yesterday, he readily agreed.
I’m very proud that he , as a charity rep is considering adopting the phrase “educated beyond our intelligence” as the motto for this year’s must wear accessories. I’ve pointed out that the phrase can be marketed not just to St Pauls but to a host of private schools in the London area. With a bit of a push it could become the “keep calm and carry on” of 2015.
But what an aspiration for our country , the phrase conveys.
Oh that every school could aim to make silk purses out of sows ears.
Oh that we could hope to make money saving experts of the millions who walk into the long grass of financial services and get caught in the elephant traps set for them
Oh that we could make good buyers of the 1.2m employers still to stage auto-enrolment.
An aspiration to be educated beyond our intelligence seems to be wholly good , since it is one that cannot do harm to any sector of society.
To level up , rather than dumb down is what British society has been trying to do for two centuries, through Rowntree, through Beveridge through Dennis Skinner! But whether we see this as “benevolent conservatism” or “working man made good”, it is the individual making the most of his or her talents that always drives progress.
Were Skinner not a shining example of a man who has made the difference despite the disadvantaged upbringing, his remark would not carry so much weight, nor be nearly as funny. The Beast of Bolsover is proof that there is not a glass ceiling, so long as you put in the hours.
I hope and expect my son to stay grounded. He has spent most of his school life in the bottom sets and , though his results suggest he is not as stupid as his Dad, I reckon he will continue to take a very sceptical view of his own achievements.
Knowing the company he keeps, and I suspect that it was the company George Osborne kept, I reckon he is lucky to be in an environment from which social, commercial and political entrepreneurs will emerge.
Yes, my son is privileged, but it is what he does with that privilege , not the grades achieved at GCSE, that will mark him as a man.
Bolsover is a constituency close to Chesterfield where Tony Benn made his return to politics. He too was a man educated beyond his intelligence.