Why Should Attending University Be A Prerequisite To Success or Greatness in Politics and Life?

Some of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers and American Presidents never went to University.

Oxford University J A via Unsplash

Benjamin Disraeli, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, James Ramsey McDonald, James Callaghan and John Major.

What do these names have in common?

Not one of these gentlemen, ever went to university and yet they went on to become leader of their country, leaving a powerful legacy of their time in office ( with James Callaghan being an exception)

In the pantheon of the greatest British prime ministers of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George are usually at the top of the polls.

Modern political aficionados must know that the likes of Benjamin Disraeli and James Ramsey McDonald had very little formal education and yet are remembered as phenomenal orators and writers, who have contributed a great deal to the English language.

David Lloyd George grew up in rural Wales, spoke English as a second language and yet rose to become the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Minister of Munitions and of course, prime minister, during the first world war. On his watch, he set up the welfare state, homes for heroes, unemployment and health insurance. He is remembered as the most radical and innovative premier of all time.

As regards Winston Churchill, he remains the standard against which other British politicians are measured, given that he was the premier who kept Britain in the war and one whose magniloquence and grandiloquence was in sync with the spirit of the times, when the nation needed skillful leadership, backbone and rousing oratory.

It’s all the more extraordinary when you learn that he had an abiding sense of inferiority from not having attended Oxbridge ( a portmanteau of Oxford and Cambridge).

Winston Churchill Speech via tshaines and YouTube.

In America, Abraham Lincoln sits at the very top of the pantheon of great presidents- which is extraordinary, given his lack of a formal education. His autodidacticism, came good when he wrote his greatest ever speech — The Gettysburg Address.

Courtesy of C. Parsons and YouTube

It’s against the backdrop of these first rate politicians, that we must look at their twenty-first century successors.

Cameron and Johnson

David Cameron, by virtue of his wealthy stockbroker father went to Eton, the premier fee paying school in Britain and subsequently Oxford and yet, his decisions, have led to the very worst outcomes, in Brexit and the very strong possibility of the break up of the United Kingdom.

Boris Johnson, the current prime minister, like his predecessor, went to Eton, via scholarship and not by virtue of having wealthy parents. He also attended Oxford University and went on to write and edit some of the most prominent papers and magazines in the country.

Johnson, in the last two years, has presided over a complete shambles. His laissez-faire approach has led to the spread of the virus and the demise of 130,000 of his fellow compatriots.

John Major, who succeeded Margaret Thatcher in November 1990, was maligned as a very poor prime minister, however, with the passage of time, his record on the job, compares quite favourably, to his conservative successors.

All of this brings me to the question, does attending the very best university matter, when it comes to success or greatness, in one’s chosen profession?

By all indications, we are being led by some of the best educated individuals that money can buy and yet, an entire nation is being held hostage to the execrably appalling decisions that they have made.

In Britain, where all top jobs go to those who have been privately educated and attended Oxbridge, regardless of whether they are suitably qualified or not, I seriously think that there needs to be a radical overhaul and dismantling of the current system, which has bred a generation of corrupt, incompetent and entitled politicians.

Thanks very much for reading.

A lifelong bibliophile, who seeks to unleash his energy on as many subjects as possible

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