Monday 25 June 2012

A bouquet of Chancellors

Let's look at the backgrounds of the 19 Chancellors of the Exchequer since Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne.  There are more of these than prime ministers as the PM reserves the right to change them. Why Tony Blair didn't change his is one which history will eventually get round to answering.

(There's a pie chart at the bottom which combines the PMs and Chancellors.  The following shows how it was counted).

The first, Rab Butler, was already in office when The Queen arrived.

1   R. A. Butler    Cambridge, Pembroke

2   Harold Macmillan   Oxford, Balliol

Peter Thorneycroft  Royal Military Academy, Woolwich

Derick Heathcoat-Amory  Oxford, Christ Church

5   Selwyn Lloyd   Cambridge, Magdalene

Reginald Maudling   Oxford, Merton

James Callaghan  Didn't go to Oxford - sat civil service exams instead

8   Roy Jenkins  Oxford, Balliol

9   Iain Macleod  Cambridge, Gonville and Caius

10  Anthony Barber  As a PoW,  law degree via the Red Cross, then Oxford, Oriel

11  Denis Healey  Oxford, Balliol

12 Sir Geoffrey Howe  Cambridge, Trinity Hall

13 Nigel Lawson  Oxford, Christ Church

14 Sir John Major  Didn't go to university - took banking exams

15 Norman Lamont  Cambridge, Fitzwilliam

16 Kenneth Clarke  Cambridge, Gonville and Caius

17  Gordon Brown  Edinburgh

18  Alistair Darling  Aberdeen

19  George Osborne  Oxford, Magdalene

Chancellors of the Exchequer
The totals for provision of Chancellors of the Exchequer

Oxford  8
Cambridge 6
Other universities/colleges/professional exams 5

Oxford would have had 9  because Jim Callaghan would have gone there if he'd had the money, although which college is not known.  Balliol scores 3, ahead of Cambridge's Gonville and Caius with 2.

To combine that with the previous bouquet of prime ministers it must be remembered that you get  different answers depending on whether you count the number of offices (because some people served as both PM and Chancellor) or the number of administrations (because some people got more than one term).

Prime Ministers
Totals for the provision of Prime Ministers (inc. Nick Clegg )

Oxford 8
Cambridge 1 (Nick Clegg)
Other universities/colleges/professional exams 4

Combined Totals

A crude combined total is to add the two counts, which means some people will be double-counted such as Harold Macmillan, who served as PM and Chancellor, while Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair will have their multiple terms under-represented. It will give the general proportions although it won't be numerically accurate. I've included Nick Clegg, so consider Cambridge slightly over-represented if you wish, but the effect is negligible.

Combined  provision of colleges to office:

Oxford 16 
Cambridge 7 
Others universities/colleges/professional exams 9

The fiddle-factor to beware of is that Oxford is under-represented in this count.  Wilson, Blair and Thatcher served multiple terms. In a fully-expanded count they would have scored at least 8 between them (assuming you count by term even if it isn't a full one)  and all three went to Oxford. However, they didn't go to Balliol, thus allowing the effect of Balliol to appear slightly more dominant than it might be, although you would have to look across the other offices of state - Home Secretary,  Foreign Secretary, and perhaps Lord Chancellor - to analyse that.. 

Dominance of Balliol

Despite the fiddle-factor it is still worth looking at the dominance of Balliol, but bear in mind that a weighted count would give St John's (Blair) and Somerville (Thatcher) more prominence.

Office holders educated at Oxford

1  Anthony Eden -   Balliol
2  Harold Macmillan - Balliol 
3  Sir Alec Douglas-Home  -   Christ Church 
4  Harold Wilson  -   Jesus
5  Edward Heath   -     Balliol
6  Margaret Thatcher -  Somervillle
7  Tony Blair - St John's
8  David Cameron - Brasenose
9  Derick Heathcote-Amory  - Christ Church
10 Reginald Maudling -  Merton
11 Roy Jenkins - Balliol
12 Anthony Barber - Oriel
13 Denis Healey - Balliol
14 Nigel Lawson - Christ Church
15 George Osborne - Magdalene

Of the Oxford colleges, Balliol is the front-runner with 5 but Christ Church is chasing it with 3. At Cambridge, Gonville and Caius also scores three.

Oxford colleges
Balliol 5
Christ Church 3
Others 7
The direction is clear; Oxford is dominant in these two key offices of state, particularly PMs, but precisely how dominant depends on how you do the counting.  A fuller analysis would extend to the Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Lord Chancellor and be based on  a weighting for the number of years in office.


It is surprising that Oxford has retained its dominance given the competition from Cambridge and ancient universities such as Edinburgh.  Besides, universities such as Durham were established in the early Victorian period and many of the Red Brick (i.e early 20th Century universities) have had a century to catch up. Even the Plate-Glass universities have been in business for about 50 years.

Even more surprising is that it has dominance over Cambridge which outclasses it in some technical subjects.

Approximate proportions of higher education of PM and Chancellor of the Exchequer


Dick Puddlecote said...

Very interesting.

Is bouquet the collective noun, or did you make it up? ;)

Woman on a Raft said...

Maybe 'bucket' would have been a better word, Mr P.

Ian Hills said...

So if they'd just gone to secondary moderns and then nothing afterwards, the country would be in better shape.......

Woman on a Raft said...

You have to resort to John Prescott to get that background. A sample of one is not significant, which is just as well considering it is Prescott we are talking about.

Perhaps unfairly I did not include him on the grounds that his title as DPM denoted something different to Nick Clegg's, but it's a religious argument.

It would not have made all that much difference; Prescott would have been a score for 'other university' since he eventually went to Hull.

John Major is an interesting exception to most rules; he went to grammar school but emerged with only three O-levels which, even allowing for the differences in the number of subjects in the past, is still a fairly low haul, possibly reflected in that he did not stay to take A-levels, nor did he do a degree later, although he did take professional exams.

He's the nearest thing (AFAICS) to someone with a standard secondary education who then took vocational exams.

Whether you think this enabled him to do a better or worse job is worth a debate.

Ian Hills said...

No, I was being serious.

Knowing how the other half lives might make for better ministers - on average, Prescott being an obvious exception.

Look at Gove's efforts to reform schools, or what David Davis might have done if he'd won against Cameron.

A rarefied Oxbridge background is certainly no indication of ministerial competence.

That reminds me, SWP boss Charlie Kimber is due to inherit a baronetcy soon. He went to the same school as Cameron.

Woman on a Raft said...

Apologies. It is an interesting question because not nearly enough research has been done on the life experiences/outcomes of those who emerged from the Secondary Moderns (and the smaller number of technical schools) which operated until roughly 1974.

To make a fair stab at an answer I'd need to find a group which ended up taking serious decisions on behalf of others so that I can compare the quality of outcomes. I suspect I'll find that in private businesses rather than being able to mine Wiki data, but I'll have a snout round.

To assess the value of knowing how the other half lives is trickier than it seems because mythology is involved. Hague, for example, never hurries to correct the impression that he went to a comprehensive school. Only he didn't; it was a grammar when he went there.

It's not clear what either David Davis or Michael Gove are supposed to know that the others don't based on their educations. Like Major, their family backgrounds involved a certain amount of up-and-down, but their secondary educations were solidly selective followed university (delayed for 2 years in Davis case when he re-did A levels).

Their main difference - and one I'd endorse where ever it appears - is that they've done other things for a living before coming to politics. In Gove's case - like Boris's and many others - it was the related trade of hackery, where as Davis had rock-solid industrial experience and plenty of it. I agree; a great shame the party flinched there.

Perhaps this is the real difference; not education but whether a minister has ever had their own skin in the game, and which particular game. Callaghan was a tax man, Major was an administrator, Iain Duncan Smith was a soldier, James Paice was (is) a farmer. David Cameron doing a pretendy tv job in a holding-tank does not count.

I recently met a young Oxfordian who has gone straight from college to the local council and has got a job in a think-tank (i.e. pretendy job) whilst waiting to build a career in the House. No, no, no. I don't want any more people who are so useless you wouldn't employ them to weed your borders.

Tinker, tailor, cab driver, shelf-stacker, nurse, I don't really care what it is they do but I want them to have done it for the money and with the possibility of being sacked and facing difficulty because of that. I'll even accept lawyers providing they did it for real.

patently said...

A rarefied Oxbridge background

I spent my early years as the son of a single mother living in a council flat on the top floor of a high-rise estate in the Midlands. 15 years later, I was at Cambridge. Those early years didn't seem very rarefied to me?

Oxbridge - and particularly Cambridge - is a lot more egalitarian than you might think. They don't care where you started from; they care only what academic level you have reached by the age of 17.

Anyway, going back on topic, it has long been held that Oxford produces Prime Ministers and Cambridge produces spies. We're actually quite happy with that; Cambridge has never deferred to establishment thinking, and produces better scientists as a result. Together with the odd spy, now and again.

Uncle Badger said...

Yes, odd spies. Exceedingly odd spies.