The Bullingdon Club

I don’t usually made political predictions, but if there is one reason David Cameron might lose the General Election, it is the above photo–a picture taken in 1987 at Brasenose College, Oxford which Cameron attended. Although the Labour party accused him of being a member of a secret society,the Bullingdon Club, is far from a secret society. Immortalized as the Bollinger Club by Evelyn Waugh, the Buller usually make its presence known by throwing exclusive yet rambunctious parties.

Above,

(1) the Hon. Edward Sebastian Grigg, the heir to Baron Altrincham of Tormarton and current chairman of Credit Suisse (UK)

(2) David Cameron

(3) Ralph Perry Robinson, a former child actor, designer, furniture-maker

(4) Ewen Fergusson, son of the British ambassador to France, Sir Ewen Fergusson and now at City law firm Herbert Smith

(5) Matthew Benson, the heir to the Earldom of Wemyss and March

(6) Sebastian James, the son of Lord Northbourne, a major landowner in Kent

(7) Jonathan Ford, the-then president of the club, a banker with Morgan Grenfell

(8) Boris Johnson, the-then president of the Oxford Union, now Lord Mayor of London

9) Harry Eastwood, the investment fund consultant

In the photo taken in 1992, there are eight famous faces:

(1) George Osborne, now the Shadow Chancellor;

(2) writer Harry Mount, the heir to the Baronetcy of Wasing and Mr. Cameron’s cousin;

(3) Chris Coleridge, the descendant of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the son of Lloyds’ chairman David Coleridge, the brother of Conde Nast managing director Nicholas Coleridge

(4) German aristocrat and managing consultant Baron Lupus von Maltzahn,

(5) the late Mark Petre, the heir to the Barony of Petre;

(6) Australian millionaire Peter Holmes a Cour;

(7) Nat Rothschild, the heir to the Barons Rothschilds and co-founder of a racy student paper with Harry Mount

(8) Jason Gissing, the chairman of Ocado supermarkets.

Two figures on left of (6) and (7) were blacked out before the photo was released, causing wild allegations. Their identities are yet unknown. My top contenders (based on the influence in the City, the Athenaeum and their Oxford prominence) include:

(1) the Hon. Michael Gove, Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, former president of the Oxford Union and “one-man think-tank”

(2) the Hon. Adam Bruce, the son of the Earl of Elgin and incumbent Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms

(3) the Hon. Edward Vaizey, the son of Lord Vaizey and the Shadow Minister for Culture

(4) the founder of Think Tank Policy Exchange, and conservative activist Nicholas Boles

(5) Steven Hilton, the director of strategy for Cameron and godfather of Cameron’s children

The pictures were withdrawn from circulation as the Oxford-based company Gillman and Soame, which own the copyright, was persuaded to withhold the further permission to show the picture. Mr. Cameron has since shown embarrassment for his association with the Bullers but these photos could easily have tipped the outcome of the close election. The Brits are still conscious about a classless society: although most of the British prime ministers hail from Eton-Harrow, Oxbridge circles, there still deep animosity towards elites. Douglas Hurd, Margaret Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary, wrote: “If I had not gone to Eton I would have become Prime Minister in 1990.” During the Tory leadership contest in 2005, David Cameron was discounted because he was an Old Etonian, a name Gordon Brown throws at him usually these days. John Prescott called the conservative front-bench an “Eton mafia,” while a lot of influential journalists (outside of Murdoch circle) are dismissed of the old school ties too. [In fact Mr. Cameron is descended from an illegitimate child of William IV and his wife  from an illegitimate child of Charles II by Nell Gwynn].

It will be a pity if he loses just because of where he went to school. Cameron himself is a moderate, and has assembled the most celebral shadow cabinet since Sir Alec Douglas-Home’s.

Read more about David Cameron in Vanity Fair.

146 thoughts on “The Bullingdon Club

  1. A small point: Boris Johnson isn’t Lord Mayor of London. He’s Mayor of London. They’re different positions – for example, the former relates to the City of London (previously the Corporation of London), whereas the latter relates to Greater London.

  2. “It will be a pity if he loses just because of where he went to school. Cameron himself is a moderate

    Cameron is not a moderate. He’s a political chameleon. All things to all people.

    . . . and has assembled the most celebral shadow cabinet since Sir Alec Douglas-Home’s.”

    Would that be the shadow cabinet that lost the ’64 election? Remember that Douglas-Home was anointed as Prime Minister because of what school he went to. I think it’s debatable whether or not Douglas-Home’s shadow cabinet measured up to Wilson’s shadow cabinet of the 63/64 period.

  3. If you even begin to kid yourself, even for one minute, that your interests have ever crossed these spoiled bastards minds, let alone settled in their hearts, then you’re an arrant fool, who desrves what they’ll dish out

  4. Power over a nation and it’s people handed out among the ‘elite’. And people are really considering voting for them and their school project. Change.
    To think Labour could of used their years to start putting it right. Wow.

  5. Why the Lab or Lib party don’t just run this as a poster with the slogan. ‘Does this man deserve to be the 20th Old Etonian to become Prime Minister?’ Beats me. No brainer.

    • The reason is simple the replacments from in the form of Milliband and Milliband went to the same Universities as this lot did.

      • @agentannie It’s completely about what university someone attends. These people have no idea how the other half live. How can they address, empathize, or understand the needs of the middle and lower class when they have forever been raised in contempt of them? I’ve done the Oxford jig personally, and theres a large sample of people there from Eton backgrounds that simply refuse to even engage with anyone else because they (somewhat rightly if you look at where Cameron and all the Eton boys end up) believe that they will forever be above them.

        That does not a leader for the people make.

  6. @David. Most likely it isn’t being used for copyright reasons, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t spread it, go, go now, tell everyone you know who you suspect of being a closet Tory!

  7. If they were working class teenagers, and not young “lords” in their ridiculous £3000 bespoke finery, they would be hauled up in front of a magistrate for their destructive drunken antics. I’m glad I live in Australia where none of this would be tolerated.

    • Obnoxious rich kids behave appallingly and get away with it every day on university campuses in Australia. Only the lower classes are ever accountable for their actions.

    • The rich and powerful are protected whereever they are, above all by the expert lawyers they can afford to hire : where I live they keep the ball rolling till time bars expire. .. I do not live in England ( I escaped from it years ago ) and find in other countries the same applies. Slowly, bit by bit we are returning to either fascism or communism, due the greed and incompetence of elected and above-the-law politicians. It is not an encouraging prospect.

      Having said this, I feel the behaviour of many when young would not stand up to scrutiny if the glare of the.
      press got to them. In one of my local foreign magazines there was an article about Cameron’s antics in the Bullingdon club, fairly revolting ( and I am no puritan ) and which he denied, but it is so disgusting I cannot believe someone invented it. The same magazine claimed the members of the club stuck together for the rest of their lives. Yet photographed with Cameron was Johnson, Britain’s very own Donald Trump. We now know how they stick apart !

  8. Well, well, well, welly, welly, well! In the end, he did lose the election because of these kind of ties. The few votes now missing may have made all the difference. It doesn’t really matter if he went to Eton or not. What really matters is that, having had the choice, he chose a good number of his fellow Etonians. That is what decreed his failure. He couldn’ve done something different but he failed by his own sword. So the lesson for today is do what you want as a teenager but make sure you move on. The world is bigger than you think.

    • he wasn’t prime minister due to the horrid stain of attending eton? my heart bleeds. though nor would he have attained the position if he’d been born into abject poverty in the third world methinks.
      as for the bullers, though i generally dissaprove of corporal punishment, perhaps a horsewhippin’ at customs when they arrive for thier anuall dinner? castration would almost certainly be going to far.

      • Pabs explicitly stated that wasn’t the reason. Rather, it’s more likely to have been the fact that when assembling his “team”, he immediately surrounded himself with a coterie of school chums from the exact same background, playing right into the hands of his fiercest class-warrior critics. Even *that* might not have had such a polarising effect were it not for his apparently total disregard for how this might appear when playing the man of the people angle – the “We’re in this together! Big Society! Call me Dave!” schtick – rather than “Sit down, shut up, trust us, we’re the best people for the job, and we’ll sort out this mess”, which perversely might have actually worked.

        You can’t refute allegations of hypocrisy, cronyism and being out of touch by hypocritically surrounding yourself with cronies from the exact same insular background, a background so far beyond most voters’ life experience that the shadow cabinet might as well have grown up on Mars. Result: given an astonishingly unpopular Labour government led by a charmless walking PR disaster, the Tories still failed to get a majority.

  9. Very true Lynne, feminist theorist generally assert that sex and gender do not describe the same thing. Some succesful personages all assume a particular gender-role, for example Maragret Thatcher’s genitalia was irrelevant, she was a total prick.

  10. Any negative comments made about these fine young men eminate from envious jealous low life morons who will never make anything of themselves and who can’t bear to see others make a succsess of their lives.

  11. LOL John, Nice use of irony there!
    Silver-spoon feudal aristocrats “making something of themselves”, hahaha,
    I’m off to the hospital, I think I’ve crack a rib falling from my throne laughing

  12. As the german woman in faulty towers said at the end
    “How did they win”. Well they did and, you get the government you deserve. People have very short memories. God help those of us in the north some areas haven’t recovered from Thatcher’s policies from the 1980’s. They say we’re all in it together. Some how i don’t think Cameron and Osbourne and their pals will suffer to much. Just wait till the cuts begin to bite i give it 12 months and the riots of Brixton and Toxteth will look like a picnic.

  13. You know people think it’s easy riding in these guys positions. I currently attend St Pauls School (direct rivals with Eton) and am applying to Oxford this year. My brother, however, goes to the local state school, which is a great place too (they have very good facilities and a really nice atmosphere). But despite all the “advantages” I would appear to have financially, you forget that it’s bloody hard work. People don’t just walk into Oxford/Cambridge, you have to work very solidly. These high end private schools may take in the brightest pupils, but they make sure they always have their noses to the grind. That’s the reason why so many get into coveted universities, not through some form of manifest destiny.

    People need to stop seeing class divisions, it’s going to be the end of this country. Already it’s a horrid place to set up a business, if things aren’t improved you can expect our economy to go down the drain.

    • Thing is though mate, I went to a school in a shitty, under-funded,Northern Irish town. And if you are from a family that doesn’t encourage you to work, for whatever reason, and you go to a school that doesn’t (as you put it) make you put your nose to the grind, then you’re unlikely to end up at Oxbridge.

      I know that I was dead lazy at seventeen; seventeen-year-olds as a rule need encouragement to work. If there’s an expectation, as there is at places like Eton, that you’ll go on to Oxbridge, then you are more likely to do it. If you go to a shitty school in a shitty town, that expectation is that you’ll get a job at sixteen.

      Course, being posh, you wouldn’t understand any of that.

      • Yup I was a lazy 17 year old- I went to a grammar school, where they kept my nose to the grind stone until it was abolished whilst I was sitting in it, and became a comprehensive. Before that, there were loads of Oxbridge names on the honours board. After that, there never was again. It wasn’t the money, it was the attitude. It changed overnight to being cool to be an academic failure.

        Don’t give me any claptrap about privilege and private schools. My school was a perfectly good state school until a bunch of ‘chip on the shoulder – everybody must be the same’ socialists turned it into a sink school, so that everybody could go down the drain together. Some parents give up everything to pay school fees, just to give their children a chance that used to be free in this country.

    • “My brother, however, goes to the local state school, which is a great place too (they have very good facilities and a really nice atmosphere).”

      You patronising little tosser.

      • I don’t come from some aristocratic, old-money family roulstof. My parents made themselves and encourage my brother and I to do the same. Our extended family transcends across so many demographics that trying to inhabit one niche is pointless and shortsighted. Everybody in the family is driven to work hard as that’s where success lies for most. If you make the most of a situation it shouldn’t matter when you take up a job. I’d rather earn less and be at the top of my field in something I enjoy, there’s respect in that choice. If you have the drive then your circumstances don’t matter. You won’t be successful if you’re lazy, regardless of background.

    • Alright Alex; you’re not old money, your parents are self-made, fair enough. I’m not referring to myself when I talk about laziness or lack of opportunity; thanks to having, like yourself, parents who pushed me to work, I went to a decent college. (Although not Oxbridge because of my phobia for pictures like this).

      I won’t argue that ‘if you have the drive your circumstances won’t matter’. Certain people are just inherently driven to succeed, but that’s in my opinion a tiny minority.

      The difference between people from wealthy backgrounds, and people from non-wealthy backgrounds, is that the wealthy are often given more opportunity and incentive to succeed, even if you’re not in that top percentile of remarkable people.

      A third of Oxbridge admissions come from three percent of the country’s schools, from elite independent schools. Would you argue that these people are simply more driven to succeed, or would you admit that they’ve been given a huge advantage over people from different backgrounds?

      • This is where the issue ceases to be black and white. Given that there are so many variables it’s hard to pick out one which is most influential. You’re right in that it does give an advantage, after all without it why would you choose to send your child to a high ranking school given it would make no difference? I guess the point I was trying to make is that it’s not an easy road. Many believe that simply by attending one you walk into a top university, that’s definitely not true.

      • Feeling a bit more lucid and calm after a sandwich…the point I am trying to make is that ambition, drive, direction, passion, is not inherent; it’s inoculated and encouraged. I’ve a lifelong interest in books, because my parents had books around the house when I was growing up. See what I mean?

      • Aye, fair does mate, I’ll grant you that. And there’s plenty of rich wasters pissing around on yachts spending their dad’s cash, god knows if I could I’d be tempted.

        And for all Cameron’s manifold flaws, he’s probably a very driven, very intelligent bloke, and that’s not all down to background, you’re right.

        I guess I would say it is easier for people from a certain background to succeed- not easy- and that’s a shame.

      • Left Secondary Modern school at 15 with no qualifications; parents didn’t think I was only good for shop work and teachers thought I should work in a garage. Family from the east end of London with no pretension of where they stood in society, and all either left of Labour or Labour through and through. By 17 I realised Labour only good for wrecking economy so changed politics. Shop work not me so changed job. Restarted career as a tea boy at an importers and worked my way through the various departments. Eventually bagged a decent senior role at Jardine’s and from there went via Motorola to become the Global Head of IT for a major national airline.

        Having worked through the ranks and seen some of these public school scholars at work, I’d rather put my trust in them to run the country than some sad individual who feeds off the politics of envy. Both my kids went to decent state schools and university, one even to Oxford, but they will tell you parental advice and support helped get them there and through it. Both now have excellent careers.

        But the moral of my life story is, you can accept what life throws at you and lead a life being envious of others, or, you can get off your backside and change it for the better. If your parents buy into your future it helps greatly, but if you have the fortitude and stamina, you can achieve good things for yourself.

      • Bit of a typo in my rambling post: It should read, “Left Secondary Modern school at 15 with no qualifications; parents thought I was only good for shop work”

    • Sorry to (inter-?) pose my query at such a delay, but seriously: Do members of St. Paul’s actually think of themselves as the rival to Eton? It was only founded in the 16th Century! For the first time! It’s had its buildings since 1968! It barely exists!

      me paenitet tangentis

      • St Pauls was founded in 1509, Eton in 1440. For establishments over 500 years in the making, 69 years is hardly a large gap. The reason the buildings are so recent comes with being founded in a city where space is limited. The school had to expand and thus moved locations around London a few times. Plus the original school at the cathedral didn’t fair too well in the Great Fire…

        It’s not the physical buildings that count. Granted it would be nice to have some character, but I’d take thorough teaching any day (compare with the Harrodian where the buildings are pretty and new but the teaching is atrocious).

    • Alex, mate, your obviously still quite young, beavering away at your studies under the illusion that this alone will guarantee gainful employment & equal opportunities. Don’t fell *too* sorry for the budding oligarchs pictured above who “always have their noses to the grind”, unlike you & many 1000s of students who attend elite universities year after year, *they are guaranteed* top positions in the most influential/powerful institutions in the world, through nepotism and/or cronyism. If you had 200 noses that you could grind simultaneously 24/7, you’d still be lucky to be allowed to lick their hand stitched Italian leather boots.

  14. Jonathan Ford hasn’t been a banker for at least the last 13 years. He’s a journalist and is currently chief leader writer at the Financial Times.

    • Which means that now Cameron’s good old buddy decides what does and doesn’t get printed in the FT. Way to move the rook to block the queen in the chess game Cameron.

      And if you don’t believe that that was the true intention there, look at Bush for evidence. George Bush’s brother was broadcasting head at Fox News during his election… he pretty much survived the biggest miscounting scandal of the last 10 years through the Florida ballot recounts.

  15. And how’s it all working out for Britons in the ‘Big Society’ anyway?
    I see unemployment is up; wages, growth and investment are all steadily heading down; and charities, essential social services for the elderly and vulnerable are all rapidly closing down; and now multiculturalism has been offered up for execution as a convenient public distraction.
    Maybe if some of these ‘born-to-rule’ bespoke half-wits had actually invested their time and energy in attending the lectures and doing a bit historical research, instead of expensive costumes and expensive praetorian orgies, then they mighn’t blunder about so much, destroying people’s lives in pursuit of their long-discredited ideological fancies.

    • Sean and you honestly think Labour with their macro-state did a better job? Things aren’t easy going currently, at least changes are being made which could potentially make a positive difference. Personally I don’t think they’re being drastic enough, although there’s only so far you can go with a vote at any one time.

      • I remember what it was like before Blair & co, admittedly only saw what it was like at during their tenure from afar, but know that the wages my parents made were not subject to the fluctuations during their tenure that they were beforehand. Nor the nosedive they’ve taken subsequent to it.
        The damage that has been inflicted on the economy is in great part due to the high level of low-interest credit available during the Blair years. However the interst rate part of monetary policy has been the remit of an independent BofE, as a result of policies inherited from the Thatcher/Major years. I’ll agree that Blair and co should have seen to it that bad speculation ought not to been so easily available; but the major problem with the economy, the one that got out of control was poor baning decisions made possible by ‘light touch’ regulation and the fallacy that easy money would spur entreprenurial capacities in a great number of people. The fact was many didn’t have the skills or experience.
        What I’m concerned about is there is a stream of conservative theory (Burkean) which recognises that changes and reforms should be incremental and limited, so that policy does not produce major social upheavels with all the unexpected consequences and potential for chaos. I think that’s a fairly responsible conservative position. I don’t believe Cameron and Osbourne can appreciate all the outcomes that their major changes will bring about.
        This is the victory of ideology over common sense: ‘The centre cannot hold, and more chaos is loosed upon the world.’

  16. So the ConDems represent “A victory of ideology over common sense?” Nothing new there Sean. Love the earlier description of Michael Gove as “a one-man think tank.” Haha!!!

  17. […] it is impossible to imagine either in government today, composed, as it is, principally of former members of the elite Oxford vomiting society the Bullingdon Club. The state-schools system is stretched to the limit; the withdrawal of further education grants […]

  18. wao very astonishing news. impossible to imagine either in government today, composed, as it is, principally of former members of the elite Oxford vomiting society the Bullingdon Club.

  19. Big Society! Call me Dave!” schtick – rather than “Sit down, shut up, trust us, we’re the best people for the job, and we’ll sort out this mess”, which perversely might have actually worked.

  20. Only just discovered your site, as I’m following up my Grandmothers’ insistence (despite dying in 1957 ) that her family (the Holmes) was related to Alec Douglas-Home. This was not said with any claim to fortune or celebrity (as these days), just a matter of fact thing, over the kitchen sink, so to speak. Lower class, hardworking family London etc
    Before DNA profiling, bastards created twixt the upper and lower classes were prolific and rarely paid for and acknowledged by the ‘toff’ fathers BUT infertile or impotent (through over-indulgence) ‘toff’ Fathers, often produced one male heir and one spare male heir, by the wife using alternative sperm donors ….. thus allowing her to THEN enjoy a wonderful lifestyle, without having to share same bed as husband.

    It was mentioned that Cameron was descended from a bastard of one KIng and his wife from another. So both are related to ‘common’ people …..mmmm, that makes a difference !

    For instance, my Mother was spitting image of our Queen and her sister Iris, was often mistaken for Princess Margaret …….what does it all mean ? I’m sure there are many others, with same stories, same questionable genealogical inheritance, but ‘poor normal people’ cannot afford to discover the truth, unlike ‘Who do you think you are ?’ celebrities or tabloids with a vested interest.

    So why did Grandma INSIST, on the Holmes/Home connection, I’d welcome someone with a little dosh, to discover if a connection, lay it to rest ……… though if this same Holmes, as de Court (dah, when was de Court added ? lmao, a high class UK deported person, re-establishing his European credentials and POSHER name, in the early colonization and convincing (somehow) the powers that be ?

    Who knows what lengths one goes to, in a basic country / penal colony, to re-establish the lifestyle you’re used to back home and re-invent yourself, whilst retaining familial link via name.

    Thank you for reading and please contact me, if you are willing to research my family history.

    Many, many thanks and best wishes

  21. Please note, for Legal Reasons, that I am not accusing ANYONE of ANYTHING illegal ….. everyone finds a way to survive or exceed……. who knows who, is good; whom is related to whom is better.
    I’d still really love knowing, good or bad, my family 🙂

  22. Get a life. Many of your comments and attributions are specious or plain wrong. They inform the viewer of zero about the characters or ultimate effect of these people. So what’s your point; apart from blowing a fetid exhalation of petty snobbery into cyberspace?

  23. No smiles. No emotion shown.

    IMO this is a deliberate …and chilling… ‘snapshot’ into the way in which these families operate.

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  26. It must be said that when the performance of the top public school and Oxbridge mob from which most of our government has been formed from way back is objectively examined and compared to the governments of other European states, they have been totally inept at just about everything, Just one important example…they moved all the industry and commerce away from where people lived and lauded the car as the future…now the roads are crammed to the point where people take as long to get to work as they spend working…and even now they suggest that more people should go to work resulting in even more congestion …crazy divide and rule politics…

  27. […] It’s a collection of people with a specific set of connections between other people in the group. The ties or patterns of ties that connect the people in the group are more important than the individuals in the group themselves. So this could be your followers on Twitter that follow the same organisations or campaigns as you, or on Facebook a post or group you are a member of or liked, you are now connected to the other people in that group through a shared interest, you might not know them or even know they exist but you are connected. You all belong to a network that you are connected to through some sort of common interest or tie. The term network community is where a group of people are connected to each other more than any other groups of connected people found in other parts of the network. Communities are defined by their structural connections not necessarily by their shared traits.  According to Christakis and Fowler the better connected your friends are increases your level of connectivity throughout the network. What’s that old saying Its not what you know its who you know! […]

  28. […] Talking about Teddy Heath highlights a difference between American and British English. Teddy isn’t usual as a serious male name of power in the UK. It’s private family nickname, not something to wear out in public. Unless you’re a member of the aristocracy, which isn’t a popular thing to advertise in British politics any more. There’s a reason why the present Conservative Party wanted to bury this. […]

  29. […] Talking about Teddy Heath highlights a difference between American and British English. Teddy isn’t usual as a serious male name of power in the UK. It’s private family nickname, not something to wear out in public. Unless you’re a member of the aristocracy, which wins you no votes in British politics any more. There’s a reason why the present Conservative Party wanted to bury this. […]

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