Coffee House

Justine Greening: Cameron’s government needs more people who have worked at Morrisons

3 September 2014

David Cameron is in need of advice right now and there’s plenty of it in the new Spectator – not least from Justine Greening, his International Development Secretary. Her interview with Melissa Kite makes clear that the party needs to focus more on social mobility – and tell the story which is not exactly hardly embodied by its Etonian and Pauline leadership.

“I know what it is like growing knowing you are not starting in the best place, and that people are having a better start than you are,”

The party needs “understanding what it’s like to start from scratch more,” she says. More than whom? She’s too discreet to say. Melissa takes up the story…

The elephant in the room is David Cameron’s privilege. But every time the elephant makes its presence felt, the MP for Putney smiles and politely sidesteps its massive bulk…

‘My first job was working in Morrisons supermarket in Rotherham.’ I am mindful as she says this that Cameron’s first (and only) job in the private sector was at Carlton television in the 1990s. In their biography of the Prime Minister, Francis Elliot and James Hanning reveal that he was hired after Annabel Astor asked her friend Michael Green, chairman of Carlton, to employ her future son-in-law.

Back to Greening. ‘For me the reason I’m Conservative is because I think that is fundamental to what this party has always been about. Margaret Thatcher’s message to me was, it doesn’t matter where you come from, this is a country where the effort you put in will mean you can get the reward out of it. She was creating a country that was smoothing my path. I could decide how far I got. Even though I didn’t have a whole load of people around me who had already gone to university, it gave me that encouragement to get on.’

Melissa then asks if she would like to see more Morrisons alumni in government. Greening replies:-

‘Yes, I would. I think it’s really important. One of the reasons it’s important to talk about this is there are actually lots of people in the Conservative party who know what it’s like to start at the bottom… I know how it feels to be slightly locked out of the system.’ It may be the controversy surrounding the reshuffle, in which Greening went unpromoted and other strong women were put in some incongruous positions, but again I feel the poignancy relates to her situation now, as well as then.

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Show comments
  • evad666

    Greening might be a better alternative to Camerpong.

  • Lina R

    All those around Cameron come from an elitist background and they all marry women from the same elitist background, and so their understanding about the lives of those who are different to their’s (ie. most people) continues to be virtually non-existent. It must be impossible for anyone from an ordinary background to ever break through this chumocracy. That’s why I like seeing the likes of Greening, McVey, Nadine Dorries, even Warsi before her resignation, in politics. Women from ordinary backgrounds in this rather rarefied world. Shame though, that they’ll never get to the top.

  • Liz

    Oh now their strong women? When the Spectator covered the reshuffle they were a parade of incompetent totty.

  • Blakenburg

    I think Cameron could be after people who work at Lidl, being a pro EU Prime Minister !

  • Graeme S

    Isnt it amazing to think that such as revelation for normal people to venture into politics …… that’s the sickening reality of today politicos …..

  • swatnan

    Sending in drones and air strikes is the cowards way of fighting. We will just be as bad as the islamofacists with their hit and run guerilla tactics and intimidation. The Armed Services should be ashamed of themselves.
    And if grouer ground troops are out of the question, the only answer is for Syria Iran Turkey to come to the assistance of the shambolic Iraqis.

    • swatnan

      Wrong thread! Should be : ‘Its like as if Archie Norman worked at Asda.’

  • global city

    Best advice for Cameron? There is no such thing as a monolithic, never changing centre ground. His ridiculous attempt to squat on the land previously inhabited by the dreadful Blair is the most mistimed political manoeuvre in recent history.

    The common ground is where most people’s current concerns lie and this shifts, sometimes markedly as events take shape. The common ground was substantially different in 1979 than to where it was in 1997. This was obviously so too in 2010. People were sick to death of nulabour3rdwayery, but all Cameron could offer was a rehashing of a decade old plan by Blair.

    The Cameroonians and their absurd ‘modernisation project’ was awful. They deserve everything that happens to them in 2015. If he listens to Matthew Parris then he may as well book the new career right now

  • ManOfKent

    Greening does not belong to the ‘Oxbridge Mafia’. Consequently, she is irrelevant. Cameron removed her from Transport because she opposes Heathrow expansion but rather than fight she accepted one of the most disgraceful jobs in Government. The Minister for Urban Liberal Profligacy, She will never rise above the lower tier of Ministries . Her ALma Mater not her gender will stop her.

    Now we find out its only Heathrow and Gatwick left in the airport expansion (so London’s urban elite don’t have to travel very far to fly off to their weekend junkets) so we can tell how influential Greening is (not at all) and know her constituents are likely about to be screwed. Yet she still gives mealy-mouthed sycophantic interviews.

    Once a shop girl always a shop girl..She’s a waste of space……

  • goatmince

    Ok lads, here another take on the same old same old.

    Privilege and social mobility – which nations in Europe discuss it? Greece, France, Italy, i.e. what the common farm animal would identify as *failing* Europe. Which nations don’t? Germany, Denmark, Finland. So what does this simple fact tell us?

  • JonBW

    Justine Greening has an MBA, worked as an accountant, and was a Parliamentary candidate at the age of 32.

    She may have lots of admirable qualities, and some experience of the real world, but this is not evidence of being ‘locked out’ by social background.

  • Robert Price

    “Greening was born in Rotherham, where she attended Oakwood Comprehensive School.[2] She is a graduate of the University of Southampton, where she studied Economics,[3] and has an MBA from the London Business School. Before entering Parliament, she trained and qualified[4] as an accountant, before working as an accountant/finance manager for, amongst others, Price Waterhouse Coopers, GlaxoSmithKline and Centrica.”

    She might not have started at the top, but she was certainly in the middle.

    • global city

      Rotherham… I wonder if she was groomed?

  • Tony_E

    Fraser, the elephant in the room is sound money

    When your money system is as distorted as ours has been since the early 70’s (and never worse than in it now), then hard work and education doesn’t really pay better than speculation and asset hoarding. Investment is skewed to fuelling the stock boom, and money chases money. It creates little productive lending and reduces opportunity for real growth. With growth comes personal opportunity.

    This is why the rich get richer and the cost of living grows while the poor cannot get a start. Even if they climb the ladder a little, only a very few will ever see themselves amongst the asset rich, and a stable and secure life will always be just out of reach for most.

    Only the rich can win in the world of the crony capitalist

  • ButcombeMan

    This is terrible lightweight stuff from the Editor of this organ, when the world is in turmoil. Just astonishing.

    Where is Melanie when we need her?

  • Kitty MLB

    ‘The elephant in the room is Cameron’s privileged’ rubbish, words
    to use when a meaningless little class war is required to cause
    division..who cares where someone was educated and I
    am sure The Hon Tristram Hunt our shadow education secretary will agree with me.

    • John Lea

      I agree it doesn’t – and shouldn’t – matter where someone was educated, but I think it is important that senior MPs have had some experience of the real world, which in my view means an understanding of what it’s like to exist on a modest income. Cameron is an easy target because he’s only ever known the lucrative self-contained worlds of PR and politics – but Clegg, Milliband, Harman etc are equally out of touch. Why does no one ever question their right to govern?

      • southerner

        “Why does no one ever question their right to govern?”

        Quite a lot of us do. Along with the rest of their miserable parties.

        • Kitty MLB

          Eh! People vote don’t they?

        • John Lea

          Yes, ordinary voters often question the double standards of these people, but I was referring to the media. For example, I have never heard a BBC or Sky interviewer ask Harman why she sends her children to private school. Why not? It’s a perfectly legitimate question, which reveals a quite sublime sense of political hypocrisy. Discovering which schools so-called ‘socialists’ send their children is of more interest than where they themselves went.

  • english_pensioner

    If I had my way, no-one would be eligible to stand as an MP unless they’d held a proper job and earned their living outside politics for a minimum of 15 years. Far too many see politics as a career; it shouldn’t be.

    • telemachus

      Like Nigel Farage (proper job)
      However the snag is that his work as a City Wealth Merchant has made him forget the needs of the little people
      And to resort to racist populism to ensure his face remains on the front page of the tabloids

      • english_pensioner

        I don’t believe that Farrage is racist, he’s saying what most people that I know are saying, so it would seem that a majority of the population are racist on your terms.

        • telemachus

          So ‘most people’ you know are racists
          That does not excuse it

          • Colonel Mustard

            You’ve tagged almost every comment in this thread Mr High Sheriff.

            • Wessex Man

              he’s no High Sheriff he’s a deputy dawg!

          • english_pensioner

            No, I said “racist on your terms”. But not racist in the eyes of most people.

          • Wessex Man

            no indeed it doesn’t, what are you views on the racists Abbott and Livingstone?

        • Wessex Man

          See my post above about Stand up to UKip, these dummie Labour trolls who set it up accuse us of racism, yet fail mention that at least two of them Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone have both been caught using racist rants!

      • Ordinaryman

        Please give examples of the “racist populism” you say Farage is guilty of so that we can form our own decisions on whether or not you are correct. Who knows, if you start supporting your comments with some facts you may not come across as such a blinkered individual.

        • telemachus

          You need look no further than the racist billboards dragged to the borders of our large Northern immigrant communities

          • Kitty MLB

            You mean like the question Mrs Duffy asked Gordon Brown. Remember of your loyal
            working class voters..who Labour betrayed.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Piffle. That tired old smear is well past its sell by date and unless you want to continue reminding us of your astonishing adherence to the propaganda methodology of Goebbels by repeating the same lie over and over I suggest that you drop it.

      • global city

        Every time you senselessly use the slur racist 10k votes are lost from Labour.

  • Rollo10

    What’s the point of more ‘Morrisons alumini’ when the people making policy, don’t even need to be elected? This is the point Carswell was making in his defection speech! The ‘elected’ MP’s are getting used to tell lies to the public! The main reason for his defection, but where could poor Justine go?
    Labour and Libs will have the same problem, because they are controlled by EU spin doctors. The public are the last people they want to appease, but finally, the public are waking up! This is why Cameron, Clegg, Miliband are combined in their rhetoric against UKIP and why they are joining with fringe parties to oppose UKIP and the message they give out, the PC brigade are wilting!

  • Last Man Standing

    Fraser knows that his blog is all rubbish, but he continues to write what he is told.

    • telemachus

      But he picks some splendid pictures
      Just look at Justine’s expression

      • Colonel Mustard

        Still not as bad as Weird Ed and the Buttie.

  • John_Page

    She’s no longer transport secretary, and it’s ‘discreet’ not ‘discrete’.

  • starfish

    Cameron is not in trouble because he is posh
    He is in trouble because he is perceived as
    Driven by focus groups and not conviction
    In hoc to special interest groups
    Has no strategic vision
    Cannot think further than party advantage

    • telemachus

      Cameron is in trouble because Cameron is a Tory
      And that is not a good thing to be in 2014
      The zeitgeist is with UKIP
      And that zeitgeist will fizz sufficient to deliver 43 Tory marginals to the forces of reason next May

      • global city

        Cameron is in trouble because he is a social democrat and a member of an elite that now have only contempt for the British.

        • telemachus

          Arguably Social Democracy is where the democratic centre of where Britain lies
          The reasonable want to see a true socialist society but we would live with Social Democracy over and above where the Carswells would lead us

          • global city

            But, ‘T’, you know that is just an idle bit of philosophy. Scores of societies have tried to bring about some variation of the socialist dream and every one has failed. Cruelty and oppression are the necessary accompaniment of every single one of these attempts.

            something in that fact should caution you off such silly plans?

            Social democracy has always led to the emptying of the treasury and the national wealth creating system, which may not lead to as much misery as a full on socialist commitment, but none the less fail to provide even the basics for the people.

            Anybody over the age of 17 who still thinks socialism is desirable is destined to suffer from delusions and immaturity for their whole lives. Your materialism is the flaw in your dream.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Piffle. Anyone expecting that either socialism or social democracy from Labour will make things better is in for a big disappointment.

            They’ve been at it for 90 years. In government and out and we still have the poor and the underprivileged with us. Who now have less chance of getting on thanks to Labour’s benefits bribery, stealth genocide and destruction of grammar schools.

            The truly reasonable want to see the back of Labour forever. The bogus reasonable like you want to jump on the bandwagon from where they hope to get a seat on the gravy train and unlimited access to the public trough. The poor and disadvantaged are just the cudgel you use and have always used to force your way on board and establish your own privileges.

          • Q46

            Democracy is de facto social. The term ‘social democracy’ then is either tautological or means something other than democracy.

            It is in fact a cover word for Socialism. What is called ‘Social Democracy’ is in fact National Socialism… co-opting business and banking to do what the State wants rather than nationalising it, getting the people to be ‘unselfish’ by replacing self-responsibility with State-dependency, determining what healthy and wholesome lifestyle is and using propaganda, particularly on children and the young, to get everyone to follow it… and the weakening of democracy by moving power to unaccountable bureaucracy.

            Sound familiar?

            The British people, no people, want socialism which is why it always fails and has to be introduced on the sly, on the nudge under a cover name.

            People want economic liberty, to increase their wealth, meet their material needs, to work for themselves not ‘the collective’ having elites decide what their needs should be and how met, taking the wealth they generate and assigning duties.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I doubt UKIP will win 43 Tory marginals but hey-ho.

        • Wessex Man

          No we won’t Colonel, Tory Central Office figures are 18, the Lib/dums are burying their heads in the sand as usual and Labour won’t admit any worries we are very close to them if not ahead in 12 of their seats. We will hold the balnce of power, this is why Diane Abbott, Ken Livingstone, Owen Jones and Len McCluskey have now formed “Stand up to UKip. They are terrified of us and will seek to smear from now until the GE.

          • Colonel Mustard

            More power to your elbow. The cosy cartel in Westminster needs a good kick in the pants.

        • telemachus

          You know well that the issue is the delivery of those 43 to the forces of reason

          • Colonel Mustard

            I don’t have a crystal ball, little man, and I doubt you do either.

            But “forces of reason” = Labour? What tripe. Forces of lost reason more like, given Rotherham.

    • evad666

      You give the boy undue credit I thought he was like Blair only focused on personal advantage.

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