Private schools. One of the more diverting features of the lead up to the election campaign in Great Britain was the ignition of class-caricature pageantry on the part of the UK Labour Party. This party, having picked up the truncheon from Thatcher, had driven the country on to even greater inequality, criminalising the poor and exulting in the bumper fortunes of City bankers. But now it was gunning for the elites. On the surface, a party whose privately-schooled leader has gone on to pocket tens of millions of pounds from banking and oil firms having played an instrumental role in financial deregulation and the invasion of Iraq may not seem best placed to complain about the danger posed by Eton-educated Lords Snooty in the Conservative party. But deep down there is no contradiction from a party, propelled forth on providing’fair’ chances for the ‘aspirational classes’ to ‘high-status’ professions and being intensely relaxed about the filthy rich, simultaneously targetting symbols of established power. Such dynamism is the essence of neo-liberal ideology, and the Tory press plays its part in the farce by calling it ‘class war’.
One striking feature of Irish society is that there is no such farce played out: private schools appear to exist as part of the natural order. If privately-educated David ‘Dave’ Cameron needs to deploy a host of PR reps to project the image of the ordinary bloke (or blayhke, as his friends might pronounce it), privately-educated Brian Cowen (Roscrea College) requires no such assistance, luxuriating in his biffoness. Similarly, unspeakable asshole Michael O’Leary manages to project an everyman image unimpeded despite having gone to Clongowes.
But what’s this?
Despite the recession, the figures show that huge numbers of parents are still able to pay expensive fees for over 26,000 pupils.
In all, private fee-paying schools enjoy a fee income of over €100 million per year.
Most fee-paying schools charge fees of over €6,000 per year, with boarding schools charging up to €16,000 per year.
In addition, they received over €100 million in support from the taxpayer in 2008/9.
Oh lawdy, if the Irish Times is pointing out that the cultivation of a ruling elite is getting subsidised by general taxation, surely it’s only a matter of time before some oppressed moneybags gets handed an op-ed to emote at length about how keeping the child in a school with its own swimming pool has meant some of her friends have resorted to bin hoking and juggling nuts just to put a meal on the table every night, but they’re not doing it for their own self-interest, mind: it would be all to easy to send the child to the rat-infested mobile settlement down the road with all the poorz, since studying the poorz and how they need their swimming pools closed is part of the private school curriculum and he would do very well. No: the country needs an elite composed of individuals approaching the calibre of my child to administer professional services for the NAMA-led restoration, and the class war launched by the Irish Times is like something out of Cuba.