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Bullingdon Club Britain: The Ransacking of a Nation

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Sophie Pender was the first in her family to go to university and believed what her mother had always told her – in a meritocracy you can use education to rise above your family circumstances.

That the Stoics stay out of the newspapers is precisely what draws potential Bullingdon members to them.In the UK, MPs and those close to power have been among those cashing in while imposing austerity on the rest of the population and our public services. As a promotional rep at The Bridge nightclub, a popular hangout for Oxford students, says, ‘They’d just get beaten up. Its ostentatious displays of wealth attract controversy, since some former members have subsequently achieved high political stations, most notably the former British Prime Minister David Cameron, former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. One young woman remembered with a grimace how a club member took her to a fancy dinner at a country estate, before attempted to court her with the line “you could be Mrs.

Not really, when you consider the consequences of a similar stunt in Brazil in January, in which 235 people were killed.They include Lord Halifax, the foreign secretary who was passed over for prime minister by Winston Churchill in 1940; Edward Grey, foreign secretary during World War I; King Frederick VII of Denmark, and Lord Dunglass, father of future prime minister Alec Douglas-Home. They treated certain types of people with absolute disdain, and referred to them as ‘plebs’ or ‘grockles’. Our rulers now seem more interested in self-service than public service, using their positions as a way of rigging the system in favour of a privileged few, at the expense of everyone else. But the same is true of most of Oxford’s public-school network, only a minority of whom would ever wish to join the Bullingdon Club. Pender dismisses this as public school sophistry: “What they forget,” she says, “is that every university already has its own 7% club where membership is determined by how much money parents spent on their child’s education.

I saw the look of disgust on her face, as well as the smug grin on his, and decided that I’d had enough. In 2013, a new photograph emerged of club members flying by private jet to a hunting expedition in South Africa. The former Bullingdon scout – who rubbed shoulders with the group in the mid-1980s, when Johnson and Cameron were members – has claimed that female sex workers were asked to perform sex acts at lavish dinners, that women were routinely belittled, and that intimidation and vandalism were its hallmarks. The elite Oxford drinking club has long been the hatchery of the British political establishment, but who is the modern Buller boy? Dukes of Norfolk, Northumberland, Westminster, Roxburgh, and Buccleah all appear, sitting next to more familiar names such as King Edward VIII; Douglas Haig, Commander of the Allied Forces in World War I; Randolph Churchill, father of Winston Churchill; and imperialist Cecil Rhodes.The Bullingdon Club was an elite dining club which became notorious at Oxford for lavish rituals, opulent banquets and smashing up restaurants. While they are often written up in the media as freak events – a ‘once in a 100 year pandemic’ – they are not simply an anomaly or an accident. The ‘boys will be boys’ attitude that most Oxford colleges once adopted towards such incidents is also a thing of the past. The club selects its members not only on the grounds of wealth and willingness to participate but also by means of education. The New York Times told its readers in 1913 that "The Bullingdon represents the acme of exclusiveness at Oxford; it is the club of the sons of nobility, the sons of great wealth; its membership represents the 'young bloods' of the university".

It features members including Lord Longford, Labour leader of the House of Lords, Hugh Lucas-Tooth, then the youngest ever MP at 21, and Roger Lumley, the Grandmaster of the British Freemasons. But Dad was violent, and things had become so bad there were panic buttons in the house connected to the police station to protect us should he try to visit. The official club uniform consists of navy blue tailcoats with a velvet collar and ivory silk lapels, monogrammed buttons, waistcoat, and a tie in the club colour of sky blue. Some find it so shaming they turn off their video cameras so people can’t make judgments about their homes.A photograph of club members in their Bullingdon tailcoats taken in 1987 has been repeatedly republished since Cameron became Tory leader. In December 2005, Bullingdon Club members smashed 17 bottles of wine, "every piece of crockery," and a window at the 15th-century White Hart pub in Fyfield, Oxfordshire.

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