The Eton set just don’t get it. Here’s why that matters

Opinion: Frankie Mullin

George, George. You got it so wrong didn’t you? Now everyone thinks you’re a tosser. And that’s the economy aside.

For those who missed it, last week the chancellor made such a stomach-churningly misguided attempt at being funny. It’s hard not to feel a shred of pity for the man.

As he picked up an award for Politician Of The Year at the uber-stylish GQ bash, the squishy-faced ex-Etonian  – why do they all look like that? – hideously misjudged his audience, and the readership of upmarket men’s mag GQ, quipping: “I’m not sure who actually reads the politics pages of GQ magazine though. I suspect they are the only pages of the magazine that a teenage boy hasn’t stuck together in reading the magazine. Some might say that’s because the wankers are on the page rather than reading them.”

Cue horrified silence. Although I like to think at least part of that was due to his winning the award in the first place. Osbourne himself soon skidaddled.

So what exactly was that all about? To me it rings of a self-conscious public schoolboy desperately trying to prove he’s hip. There’s no intrinsic reason why ‘posh’ and ‘cool’ should be mutually exclusive, but what is required to be part of any crowd is a basic awareness of how people communicate, including picking up on the fact that most of us stopped sniggering just because someone said “wanker” in our early teens.

It’s alarming, but not surprising, to think that Osbourne inhabits a world in which his brushes with anyone other than his squidgy toff cronies are that rare.

Sense of humour is a crucial window into people’s psyche. Last week, David Cameron induced sniggers in parliament when he suggested Tory MP Nadine Dorries was “frustrated”. His inherent chauvinism was similarly displayed in April when he told shadow chief secretary Angela Eagle, “Calm down dear”.

So take note, because from these unscripted jokes we learn more about Osbourne and Cameron that any amount of their party-line spiel.


World ending? More bank hols!

Two pieces of bank holiday-related news: one, that the economy dipped, then flatlined after the extra bank holidays in April; two, that MP Eleanor Laing has called for an extra holiday in 2015 to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. I know which I’m bothered about.

That half the population will be hazy as to the meaning of the Magna Carta (it was drawn up in 1215 and lays down the idea of the rule of law, if you must ask) makes no difference: roll out more bank holidays!

I know there’s a recession on; yes, the state of the economy is depressing, but that seems to me all the more reason to fill our lives with things other than work.

To be melodramatic, if the country is slipping into an abyss of unemployment and riots; the world raging with civil war and the ice caps melting, I’d rather be with my mates than staring at a computer. Magna Carta bank hol? Yes please!