As is frequently noted in the press, it is still the case that a lot of the people who hold political power in this country went to private schools, and to Oxbridge. (Though some of us want to protest at the conflation of these two, and the implication that everyone who's been through Oxford University is posh.) Nevertheless, Oxford has more than its fair share of political alumni, and has had quite a hand in shaping the political scene not only in the UK but across the world.
Michael Heseltine was known for his flowing golden locks and rousing orations. He was once so carried away during one of his Parliamentary speeches that he seized and shook the Mace, the symbol of the authority of the House of Commons. During the recent election of the Chancellor, he was seen to come round twice in the queue - not to double his vote, but in order to give the camera men ample opportunity to photograph him.
Tony Benn started life as Anthony Wedgewood Benn, then became Lord Stansgate on the death of his father. He was the moving spirit behind the bill which enabled Peers to renounce their peerages. This was because Peers are not allowed to sit in the House of Commons, which has become increasingly the focus of Parliamentary activity.
Quintin Hogg, former Conservative MP for Oxford, also became a Peer, and renounced his title in order to fight for the leadership of the Party. He went round the Party Conference ringing a bell, perhaps to suggest symbolically that he would wake things up. He didn't get the leadership - bell-ringing is not quite the thing expected of a Top Chap. He is now Lord Hailsham.
|Lord Hailsham||1926-30||Christ Church||Lit Hum||1st|
|Theresa May||1974-77||St Hugh's||Geography||2:2|
|Jacob Rees-Mogg||1988-91||Trinity||Modern History||2:1|
|Dennis Healey||1935-38||Balliol/Merton||Lit Hum||1st|
|Tony Benn||1945-48||Christ Church||PPE||2nd|
|Tony Blair||1972-75||St John's||Law||2nd|
|Angela Eagle||1980-83||St John's||PPE||2nd|
|David Milliband||1984-87||Corpus Christi||PPE||1st|
|Keir Starmer||1985-86||St Edmund Hall||BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law)||n/a|
|Ed Milliband||1989-92||Corpus Christi||PPE||2:1|
|Mark Reckless||1988-91||Christ Church||PPE|
Politicians in Other Countries
|Bill Clinton||1968-69||Rhodes Scholar||BPhil||Incomplete|
It is possible to belong to more than one college, usually on gaining a fellowship. PPE means Politics, Philosophy and Economics. It is usual to specialise in two out of the three. Lit. Hum. stands for Literae Humaniores, now more commonly referred to as Classics, comprising the study of Ancient Greek and Latin language and ltierature, history and philosophy. It is sometimes known as 'Greats' after a nickname for the final exams, and is one of the oldest schools in the University. Lord Stockton did not take finals but was awarded a degree on the results of an intermediate examination as a concession due to his service in World War I.
The Union is a private debating society where membership is paid for by the individual student, unlike the Oxford University Student Union, where the fees are paid for all students by the state grant. During the time of the politicians mentioned, the Student Union did not really exist. Women have been allowed to join the Oxford Union Society since 1963, although Shirley Williams spoke in a debate in the early 50s.