‘Toff’ will be blamed

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THERE are very few occasions when I find myself in agreement with your columnist, Philip Circus. But the case he makes about leadership qualities required of our politicians – irrespective of which school they attended – is an important one (County Times April 5).

He is quite right in saying that above all, we need talented individuals – whatever their social background.

Take for example – Tony Blair (Fettes College and Oxford); Ed Miliband (Haverstock Comprehensive and Oxford); David Cameron (Eton College and Oxford); Nick Clegg (Westminster School and Oxford). Here I would add Paddy Ashdown (Bedford School and Royal Marines). So who is the odd man out?

I would argue that Paddy Ashdown had far more experience of the real world than all the others put together. A soldier (Special Boat Service); diplomat and accomplished linguist – Ashdown never lost the common touch.

His distinguished military service – often involving great danger and team work – enabled him to command the respect of those under his command.

Ashdown did not need the advice of a PR man or woman – with little experience of life – to advise him how to behave in any given situation. He knew instinctively. And given the opportunity, he would have made a first-class leader of the present Lib/Con Coalition Government.

In choosing our political leaders, we could do worse than taking a leaf out of the military selection process – intelligence, sound judgement, strength of character and the ability to communicate are prime requirements.

The post-war parliamentary intake demonstrated that those who had marched towards the sound of gunfire turned out to be notable political leaders – Churchill, Attlee, Denis Healey and – dare I say, Edward Heath. All had the courage of their convictions – and did not dither when challenged.

Where I would part company with Philip Circus is that he appears to believe that the present crisis of confidence in the Tory Party will soon be forgotten.

If that is so, the long-suffering public will also soon forget the economic mess left by New Labour and increasingly cast the blame on the Coalition.

When the going gets tough, a scapegoat is required. And who better than that Old Etonian ‘toff’ – David Cameron – who is so desperately trying to be seen as one of the lads?

ROBERT B. WORLEY

Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham