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Our meritocracy has propelled all sorts into the ‘Establishment’

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16.04.2019

One of those reliable tropes in the Brexit argument is the notion that it is the fault of a remote Establishment. The charge suits both sides, which should make us suspicious. The nature of elites is shifting faster than our determination to pigeon-hole our foes allows.

Yesterday, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, one of the hats in the ring for the PM’s job, laid out his “backstory” as the son of a hard-working family of Pakistani immigrants. His education via comprehensive school followed by sixth-form college is the norm for the vast majority of families, yet it is deemed at Westminster to be a wondrous asset in connecting the bearer to the rest of Britain.

Of course, Javid’s pitch enhances his appeal on the (sensible) Right of the party and raises his profile against contenders (Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt) with a more privileged background.

The Home Secretary has embraced longer-term solutions to the knife crime rise, layered on top of instant fixes. The deeper concession was that poverty and environment shape lives: “It’s not so difficult to see how instead of being in the Cabinet, I could have actually turned out to have a life of crime.”

The social media backlash wails that this is out of bounds, because Javid made a small fortune as a banker and was an early-stage Thatcherite at university, therefore part of a hated “Tory elite”. So is Javid a part of the Establishment or not? As a Cabinet-level politician with a career as a credit trader and........

© Evening Standard