Forcing her way back on to the fringes of relevance yesterday came the all too familiar figure of self-promotion specialist Julia Hartley Brewer, as ever keener than everyone else put together to promote Herself Personally Now. Sadly, the subject on which she decided to pontificate was education, an area on which she talks ad infinitum, and indeed ad nauseam, but where in reality she knows very little.
We know who you are, thanks
Ms Hartley Dooda had, like so many of the Press and Pundit Establishment, taken grave exception to the provocation by Owen Jones which suggested of the media class that “much of it is a cult. Afflicted by a suffocating groupthink, intolerant of critics, hounds internal dissenters, full of people who made it because of connections and/or personal background rather than merit”. She wasn’t having any of that, thank you.
So she announced to anyone not yet asleep that “I didn’t go to Oxford because I was privileged. I went to Oxford because I was clever”. Well, yes, past tense and all that. What happened in the interim can only be guessed. But there was more.
“A lot of lefty Labour types seem very upset about this tweet. If I didn’t get into a top uni because I was privileged or privately educated then what other explanation would they think *was* acceptable? Did I get in by accident?” Ooh, don’t tempt me [thinks] Toby Young, Louise Mensch, London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, accident, well, best keep schtum about that one.
Still, let’s not be too cynical - yet - about Ms Hartley Dooda’s exposition of alleged knowledge. Let her dig herself in a little deeper. “If you’re *genuinely* angry about how few working class kids get into top universities & top professions, as I am, then you should support the expansion of grammar schools so poorer kids can get the high quality academic education they need to get into those institutions”.
Grammar Schools, eh? And why should anyone advocate for more grammar schools? As if you need to guess. “Otherwise, you’re just a class warfare bullsh*tter who doesn’t really want to do anything to help those kids. You’d rather keep them ‘in their place’ so you can keep complaining about The System. Why not change that system instead?”
And with that, she continued the superior tone as she signed off “It’s way past my bedtime. Night night all. Please join me for my no nonsense @talkradio breakfast show from 6.30am to 10am tomorrow when, frankly, we’ll be talking a lot more sense than most of the people on here”. So let’s see how much sense she was talking on Grammar Schools.
Kent still has grammar schools. So BBC Newsnight’s Chris Cook compared the county’s GCSE successes with the national average, to give us an idea of what we might expect. And in Kent, pupils from the most well-off families get GCSE grades better than the national average. But for the poorest, they do worse. In fact, around half the population in Kent does worse than the national average.
Yes, Julia Hartley Dooda was talking out of the back of her neck once more. Perhaps, whisper it quietly, she isn’t as clever as she thinks she is. No surprise there, then.