Sadiq Khan nicks a goal back for the profession in centuries old battle with the privileged as to who should run country
Sadiq Khan’s landslide victory over Old Etonian Zac Goldsmith as to who should replace Old Etonian Boris Johnson as Mayor of London provided a welcome respite for the lawyers who have been having a thin time of it of late in this who-sits-at-the-top-of-the-table fixture.
The glory days of the Blair years, when not only was the PM a lawyer but so was his wife (Cherie) and his mentor (Derry — or The Lord Irvine of Lairg, if you must) and half his cabinet, have long gone.
The Old Etonians — who had been considered, if not quite dead and buried, certainly missing in action, when Thatcher, a lawyer, of course, merrily culled them in favour of Etonians — have made a remarkable recovery. They now fill the roles of PM, Archbishop of Canterbury, Heir to the Throne and Reigning Channel 4 Celebrity Chef of the Year. The lawyers, in contrast, have Bob Mortimer and Gerard Butler who doesn’t really count as he was fired for a series of drink-related incidents weeks before the end of his TC.
Cue Khan. To prove once again the lesson rammed home by Thatcher and Blair that if you want to win an election by a large margin field a lawyer. Admittedly, the contest was merely for Mayor, not PM, but who would bet against the 2020 election being between Johnson and Khan in an OE v lawyer shoot-out for the ages.
At present, the OEs have 19 PMs against the lawyers 12 (the magic dozen being Wilmington, Bute, George Grenville, Addington, Perceval, Canning, Melbourne, Asquith, Lloyd George, Attlee, Thatcher, Blair). Twelve is none too shabby, certainly in comparison to banking with two and accountancy with a big fat zero (has an accountant ever won an election, any where, in any field?). But it is not that great either when you factor in Harrow with seven and people called William with eight. When a whole profession is only 50% more successful than a single Christian name then questions should be asked.
Principally, who invented democracy? In the pre election age lawyers thrived, During Tudor times — and have there ever been better times? — it was Thomas More this and Thomas Cromwell that and they were just the lawyers called Thomas.
Then elections began to be held, and the Old Etonians, who spend most of their schooldays electing each other, oiled their way back on to the public stage. While the lawyers were stunned to discover that the general populace seemed strangely reluctant to vote for lawyers.
Battle was soon joined and has been raging ever since between the privileged elite, who feel they had been born and schooled to rule, and the profession, who best understanding the laws consider themselves best placed to administer them. Separation of powers being all well and good but surely working best when the judiciary are lawyers (a lock-in) and the executive are also lawyers.
With luck, Khan’s victory will herald the start of the profession’s resurgence and put an end to the current ridiculous state of affairs where there are more bankers than lawyers in the cabinet. And no Williams.