Chums-how a tiny caste of Oxford Tories took over the UK (Simon Kuper):

Hidden away, in an ivory laboratory fashioned from the drek of privilege, & other incestuous aberrations of unearned advantage, runts & fuck-ups that would otherwise struggle in life’s natural currents find a way to cheat the deck.

Swots and robbers. But why bother being a swot when you can just take the escalator? There’s plenty of robbing going on though isn’t there? & far worse actually.

Buller! Buller!

The Oxford Tories – and especially the Etonians among them – were made by many forces besides Oxford. They had been groomed for power since childhood.

I will argue in this book that if Johnson, Gove, Hannan, Dominic Cummings and Rees/Mogg had received rejection letters from Oxford aged seventeen, we would probably never have had Brexit.”

Entitlement, bluff, selection. The bestowing of immunities.

“In the gentlemanly Oxford tradition, the less useful your degree, the more chic it was”.

Don’t worry old chap … there will be absolutely no enduring consequences for any of your actions, ever. no matter the scale of carnage.

A tutor at my college was known for exposing himself to students, and also trying to recruit some of them into the intelligence services. Like most things in 1980s Oxford, his habits were treated as a bit of a laugh.

Chums is really on a roll. Secondary to the central theme (Oxford being the primary gestation surrogate for Brexit), it is awash with information & disclosures on the intensely destructive & regressive pox of “elite” private school spillover.

Although distinctive, it reminds me of Richard Beard’s excellent 2021 Sad Little Men-Private Schools and the Ruin of England. With the collateral carnage from these perverse institutions & their insane spawn threatening to overwhelm the whole island, you can expect more psychiatric scribes of disbelief & disdain in the near future.

In 1979, British ‘income inequalities reached their lowest point ever recorded’ , writes Danny Dorling, professor of geography at Oxford. But then along came Margaret Thatcher, who restored inequality.”

Boris Johnson in his days as Telegraph columnist defended ‘sickeningly rich people’ on the grounds that “If British history had not allowed outrageous financial rewards for a few top people, there would be no Chatsworth, no Longleat.”

The Oxford Union debating society

A figure that gets off far to lightly in Chums is the Faecal Menace, aka Rupert Murdoch, who may well of been the single largest driver of Brexit. You can only imagine what this man was doing behind the scenes & in the shadow realm in the run up to the Brexit vote, with his galleon of blackmail, dirty favours & amassed compromising material.

We do find out though (it was news to me) that in the 1950s whilst at Oxford, Murdoch was disbarred as secretary of the Oxford Labour club for “electoral malpractice”.

Start as you mean to go on.

Norman Stone, a History teacher, “early Eurosceptic” & Dominic Cummings mentor, pops up. Stone, an “unabashed groper” who’s notorious pussy or prick grabbing “didn’t stop him being appointed to the university chair in 1985” took a “hands on” approach to the young Cummings.

“Misfits and weirdos.”

There was something glorious and fun about it. These people are fun, they are entertaining. You do get to jeer from the audience, and cheer for points of information. It’s a circus. I didn’t think, “These people are going to be prime minister’ .

The Oxford Debating Society. A dry run for the latrines of Westminster. Learn to lie. To prattle, deceive & to evade. & of course, most importantly, cultivate your magic carpet, to sail you up to your undeserved prize of choice & position of privilege without any qualifying substance.

The old boys network.

“ – the Oxford Brexiteers ere confident that their own class would be okay whatever happened. If your life passage has taken you from medieval rural home to medieval boarding school to medieval Oxford college and finally to medieval parliament, you inevitably end up thinking: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ If Brexit didn’t work out, the Oxford Tories could always just set up new investment vehicles inside the EU, like Rees-Mogg, or apply for European passports, like Stanley Johnson. As James Woods writes of his fellow Etonians: ‘What amazing security, to have always been well-off probably suggested that one would always be well-off”.


Simon Kuper, 2022, Profile Books, 196 pages