Too few politicians in Britain have any idea what life is like for people living on benefits, the former head of the Civil Service has warned, criticising ministers who send their children to public schools and have private health care rather than use the NHS.
In an outspoken attack, Lord O’Donnell said there were still “too many people in politics who just don’t get it” and called for political parties to select candidates using open primaries to broaden representation in Parliament.
And he criticised the “few” government ministers who, he said, still did not use the public services they were in charge of delivering.
Here are some posh politicians that Lord O’Donnell may have been thinking of.
The PM’s policy guru and Cabinet minister (inset), went to Eton and got into trouble in 2003 when he declared that he would rather beg on the street than let his children go to the inner-city comprehensive school near his London home.
David Cameron’s chief of staff also went to Eton and Oxford before going to work for Chris Patten when he was Governor of Hong Kong and Paddy Ashdown when he was High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was educated privately and – unlike David Cameron and Government Chief Whip Michael Gove – chose not to send his children to state schools. He was once famously described, along with the Prime Minister David Cameron, as “two arrogant posh boys” with “no passion to want to understand the lives of others” by the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.
Ed Miliband’s adviser and former Cabinet Minister Lord Falconer, is not immune to charges of elitism. His bid to enter the House of Commons in 1997 failed after he refused to commit to removing his children from public school. However it didn’t do his career any harm – he was the first peer created on Blair’s recommendation and immediately joined the government as Solicitor General.