Bridge players

May 16, 1997

So much for the classless society. Maybe it is the reaction to being led over the precipice by a chap with a couple of O levels, but you would think that with six runners for the Conservative party leadership, there might be one whose undergraduate studies were at a university other than Oxford or Cambridge. Not so.

The contenders divide three apiece as alumni to be proud of numbers 101 to 106. Of the Cambridge contingent Kenneth Clarke was at Gonville and Caius and Michael Howard at Peterhouse - and both carry the Mark of Cain of presidency of the Cambridge Union, a post yet to be followed by occupation of 10 Downing Street. Peter Lilley, who was at Clare, offers the possibility of the leaders of both main parties being Oxbridge and public school for the first time since Hugh Gaitskell's death in 1963. So too do two of the Oxonians - Stephen Dorrell, who went to Brasenose, and John Redwood, a serial inhabitant of Magdalen, St Antony's and All Souls. Magdalen, which has yet to produce a Prime Minister, has a second shot via William Jefferson Hague. But bad news for those beguiled by the possibility of Britain and the United States being led simultaneously by Oxford graduates with distinctive regional accents who share the christian names William Jefferson - Clinton will be off to the lecture circuit or the Arkansas prison system before the next British general election.

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