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Fee-paying schools are the first thread in Britain's web of privilege

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Britain’s most influential people are five times more likely to have studied at a private school than the general population, according to the Social Mobility Commission, an excellent body that is absurdly underpowered to do much about the most class-ridden society in the advanced world. We seem to be drifting towards a second upstairs-downstairs Edwardian era of inequality.

A quick glance at the backgrounds of the two contenders to be Britain’s next prime minister leaves little doubt that, as the commission now reports, Britain is still run by the products of its fee-charging schools. Boris Johnson (Eton, classics at Balliol College Oxford, former foreign secretary) is up against Jeremy Hunt (Charterhouse, PPE at Magdalen College, Oxford, now foreign secretary). The winner’s predecessor but one, David Cameron, also did PPE at Oxford, and went to Eton. If the Conservative Party is dedicated to opportunity for all, as it is often claims, it has a funny way of showing it.

Mr Cameron’s predecessor but one, Tony Blair, went to St John’s College, Oxford to do law, having attended the fee-charging Fettes College in Edinburgh. The public schools might be expected to populate the upper echelons of the Tory party, the royal family, the aristocracy, the law, the civil and diplomatic service, business, the media, academia and even certain sports such as cricket or rugby union, but they are also........

© Independent