If 2020 Teaches Us Anything…

26 December 2020  /  Updated 1 January 2021

by Joe Baron

Annus horribilis just doesn’t cut it. A year in which we’ve seen the advent of a global pandemic, worldwide protests caused by the killing of an unarmed black civilian in Minneapolis and the cancellation of Christmas – all endured with the forebidding spectre of a no deal Brexit hanging over us – surely needs a brand new term.

The most striking thing about this whole affair, though, has been the utter failure of our Alpha caste to navigate the ship of state through these tempestuous seas. Incalculable levels of ineptitude have combined with both arrogance and aloofness to produce an epoch-ending conflation of crises that has exposed the egregious shortcomings of our governing class and, just as importantly, the misconceptions of a credulous public. The mask has finally slipped and the veneer of superiority has been stripped away. The emperors really do have no clothes.

Oxbridge and Eton, we now know. Apart from churning out an interminable, never-ending configuration of smug, arrogant, born-to-rule Malfoys with the means and connections to trample over their opponents and further their own interests, you have nothing else to offer. You certainly don’t add any value to the rest of society.

Thanks to you, and our most influential institutions – institutions saturated with your alumni and the alumni of our other elite educational establishments – the poor suffering British people have been lumbered with politicians intent on destroying our socio-economic and cultural inheritance – in short, our hard won freedoms and economic well-being – in the name of protecting us from a virus that has a 99.7% survival rate. 

Actually, I think that’s too generous an assessment. They’re doing it because, above all else, they covet power and – pressured by broadcasters and journalists who inhabit the same closeted world, and armed with unreliable opinion poll data – they think that cancelling Christmas is somehow popular.

It’s just not working, is it? In addition to the utter destruction of the nation’s economic, social and cultural life, our university educated elites have demonstrated pusillanimity when confronted with violent Marxists and China’s rogue belligerence, and cowardice when faced with illegal migration from France.

Okay, we’ve got a Brexit deal, I hear you say, but I’m withholding judgement on that one till I see how the new committee system plays out. And even if Boris has negotiated a decent deal – against all the odds – it’ll be an aberration, an unlikely and incongruous success in a premiership characterised by naivety, weakness, indecision and folly. A broken clock is right twice a day, after all.

If there’s indeed one thing I’ve learned from 2020, it’s that we must recruit our politicians from a wider pool of talent. I’d like to see a parliament featuring successful ex-plumbers and electricians, builders and small businessmen and -women, as well as university-educated graduates.

When you think about it, it’s short-sighted and facile to think an individual’s performance at 18 can predict his or her ability as a mature adult, thus determine their effectiveness when it comes to running a country. Even exceptional 18 year-olds are still 18 year-olds, unimpressive when compared to their more experienced elders, or even their less conventional but more worldly and perhaps more socially intelligent peers. 

That isn’t to say that there aren’t some extremely capable graduates. Of course there are. But they are over-represented – especially those from Oxford and Cambridge – in our most influential political, cultural and economic institutions. Once more, we’re ignoring an enormous pool of talent found outside this narrow demographic. 

If this annus ‘most ‘orrible’ horribilis proves anything, it’s that we need to open access and inject some social intelligence and common sense into our political class and institutions.