Belfast Telegraph

Cara Delevingne a model example of how a privileged few dominate our world

By Jane Graham

What a wake-up call it was this week to find out that the acting Establishment is disproportionately composed of privately educated individuals. Who'd have thought our beloved Cumberbatches, Redmaynes, Hiddlesworths and Winslets were not salt of the earth lads and lasses who'd come direct from the dark satanic mills of the ragged North to the glittering Bafta stage?

The Sutton Trust revealed this week that 42% of British Bafta winners went to a private school and 67% of British Oscar winners. It also knocked us off our feet with news that politics and law are dominated by the lucky recipients of cash-based education: three-quarters of the UK's top judges went to a fee-paying school (78% are Oxbridge grads), as well as half the Tory Cabinet.

It's worth taking a pause here to remember that the private school sector educates 7% of the population in total.

My sarcastic tone might suggest a bitter attitude towards those who happen to have drawn top tickets in the lottery of British life, but that is not so.

I'm an enthusiastic, unapologetic fan of each of the actors named above, my heartfelt love for Harrowite Benedict, Etonite Eddie (and my beloved Etonite Dominic West) only recently intruded upon by Etonite Tom Hiddleston's brilliant performance in The Night Manager.

I'm aware of fellow working-class socialists who regard it a point of principle to rail against the privileged. I don't share this view, having been far too seduced by genuine talent and beauty to bear the good ones any grudge.

The system which produced this state of affairs however? It's a bone-deep disgrace and a shame on this country. While the institutions of power, wealth and celebrity are dominated by the rich, the UK surrenders its right to call itself a just society.

Just as the current voting set-up and skewed justice system long ago surrendered the right to claim they stood for fairness, equality, or even true democracy. Power talks straight to power and down to the rest of us, telling us to teach our children to aspire to greatness, as if being born into money is an achievement.

One institution the Trust didn't examine is the fashion world. In terms of the Instagram generation, I suspect the influence of the anointed Beautiful People is second only to that of pop stars.

My guess is that the percentage of privately taught will be rather high among this section too (though there will be rather less Oxbridgers). Because there is a different elite in fashion - just as rich and just as exclusive.

Let's look at the current stack of It girls and boys, many of whom we've seen gleaming in the glossies as they've paraded around London Fashion Week these last few days: Amber le Bon, Daisy Lowe, Anais Gallagher, Lily Collins, Tali Lennox, Georgia Jagger, Zoe Kravitz, Lily-Rose Depp, Rafferty Law, Dylan Brosnan, Romeo Beckham.

Any of those names ring a bell? They're all models with fabulous contracts, most of whom have graced the covers of leading fashion mags, and get photographed in the hallowed Front Row of the most prestigious fashion events on the globe.

This is an industry which claims it seeks out quirks, eccentricities, a uniqueness that can't be taught, bought, or bred. An industry so deluded it hails its current superstar, Cara Delevingne, as a rebellious black sheep.

Yes, the Belgravia-born god-daughter of Conde Nast executive Nicholas Coleridge and Joan Collins, whose granny was lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret, sure blew in from the wrong side of the tracks.

All we have to do to achieve similar greatness in this wonderful meritocracy is take a deep breath and aspire.

How Virginia had me dancing for joy

My moment of the week was watching 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin jumping into the arms of Barack Obama.

McLaurin's visit to the White House was organised as part of America's Black History Month and, boy, was it worth it.

She whooped and greeted Obama like a long lost grandson, before dancing her way over to Michelle Obama, always the most delightful of hostesses; warm, unpatronising, always game.

They laughed together, had a little boogie, then Virginia paused and turned to gaze at Barack.

"I thought I'd never live to get in the White House," she said tearfully. "A black President." She turned to Michelle: "A black wife." Yes, Virginia, they're quite a thing.

Some men still think like Savile

As Janet Smith's review into the Jimmy Savile case clarified this week, the work culture Savile operated in - one in which some senior staff regarded young women as playthings for "talented" men, with one producer actually procuring teenage prey for his superstar DJ, was grotesque.

It was also common of workplaces of the time. We know it has not been wiped out. The attitude to vulnerable teenage girls was similar to the one which led to scores of girls being raped and passed around by the monsters heading the Rotherham sex ring.

This is why women find it hard to "lighten up" around banter based on the allure of their body parts.

Just so you know.

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