Now it may be because I didn’t receive a classical education, but did anyone else have to Google Demosthenes after watching PMQ’s today? According to the beloved Wiki, Demosthenes was a brilliant Greek orator and intellectual in Ancient Athens. In case you had better things to do in your working day, Cameron quipped to Blair in the weekly head-to-head:
"I know you don't want to talk about the deputy leadership campaign because the contest looks like it could achieve the impossible - which is to make the current deputy prime minister look like a cross between Ernie Bevin and Demosthenes."
You could just see the Cameroons guffawing at their leader’s snide remark, sitting smugly on the green benches, minds drifting back to days of ancient history and classical languages lessons. But the fact is that Cameron’s jibe reflects old snobberies which should have no place in our progressive time, and should remind people where his real loyalties lie. Not with working class people like Prescott was, working his way up through self-education, but with that small elite who can afford to send their children to schools like Eton. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t want our children to grow up knowing about classical greats, but despite all Cameron’s rhetoric about how he doesn’t care about grammars and private schools, his little gag reveals that he’ll use someone’s background if it suits him. Michael Gove was rather more candid about what he thought in a reply to a question on Channel 4 about the number of Tory Etonian frontbenchers: “Well all that tells me is that their parents thought well enough of their children to want to invest money in their education.”
Cameron capturing the centre-ground? Go ask the man on the Clapham omnibus who Demosthenes is, and he’ll give you the answer.