I’m not convinced our leaders have shown themselves as intelligent or competent, says Mercy Muroki

I’m not convinced our leaders have shown themselves as intelligent or competent, says Mercy Muroki
Mercy monologue 21 July
Mercy Muroki

By Mercy Muroki

Published: 21/07/2022

- 10:35

Updated: 22/07/2022

- 05:05

42 of the 55 prime ministers of the United Kingdom have gone to just two universities – Oxford and Cambridge

Over half of the prime ministers we’ve had were educated at one of those universities – Oxford.

In fact, one single college of the 45 colleges that make up the University of Oxford has produced a quarter of all prime ministers.

And produced is quite an apt word. Because that’s what these universities do – they’re production lines for cookie-cutter elites.

Leaders in waiting from the moment they set foot onto the campuses of Oxbridge as uppity, bourgeois-wannabe 18-year-olds, they are thrown onto the production line and assembled in the numerous pompous networks and debate clubs.

And when they’re finished and polished, they're chucked straight onto the conveyor belt and out into the revolving doors between politics and banking.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with clever kids going to Oxford and ending up as big shots in the private sector.

Fundamentally because I’m not in favour of fiddling with meritocracy. Generally speaking, I see no reason why those who show themselves to be particularly intelligent and competent shouldn’t have a bigger piece of the power pie.

Yes, that might sound controversial – but actually, it's a perfectly reasonable system of running things.

But – and there’s a very big but – I’m not convinced our political leaders, who are so massively drawn from Oxbridge, have shown themselves to be particularly intelligent, nor quite frankly, competent.

In my lifetime, the UK has not elected elected a single prime minister who didn’t go to Oxford.

Given Oxford only takes a few thousand undergraduates every year out of the entire world's population, that's quite extraordinary.

Gordon Brown, in fact, was the only Prime Minister who didn’t go to Oxford since John Major – but he of course was not elected through a general election.

But, no fear! With either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss now being guaranteed to be our next Prime Minister, we will for the first time have a diverse, non-elitist choice of PM. Right?

It’ll be between one of them who read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, and …. Oh, one who read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford.

Well, don’t worry – at least the Labour leadership isn’t of the same ilk. Let’s see which university Keir Starmer went to? Oh, never mind, he went to Oxford too.

Look, jokes aside… surely we can do a bit better than this?

I’ve known people who never set foot in a university in their life who have more common sense, more grit, are more perceptive, more patriotic, who are harder working and wiser than the majority of those who consider themselves fit to be leaders. I'm sure you do, too.

People up and down this country go through things more difficult and navigate harder challenges than being prime ministers. Those are the kinds of people I want to see front and centre.

You know, one of the things I’ve learnt over the last couple of years as I've mingled with, the so called 'best-and-brightest' is that clever people, aren’t often very capable. Booksmart doesn’t make you bright.

And being learned, certainly, demonstrably doesn’t make you a good leader.

You may like