POLITICS

David Cameron Defends Appointing More Old Etonians, 'William Hague Is From Yorkshire'

01/05/2013 14:41 BST | Updated 01/05/2013 14:44 BST
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British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing street in central London on April 24, 2013, to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

David Cameron has said his inner-circle is made up of people with "all sorts of different schooling", after being accused of appointing too many privileged Old Etonians to top jobs in government.

The prime minister said he appointed people "because they’re good enough to do the job" not because they went to the same school as he did.

Last week the prime minister announced MP Jo Johnson, the brother of London mayor Boris Johnson, would head up his Downing Street policy unit.

Johnson attended the exclusive Eton public school, as did Cameron's chief of staff Ed Llewellyn and many other senior Tories including Jesse Norman - the Hereford MP appointed to the No.10 policy board.

Cameron himself attended Eton, leaving the school 1984 before heading to Oxford University to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE).

Norman defended Cameron surrounding himself with Old Etonians, claiming "other schools don't have the same commitment to public service".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One today, Cameron said: "I appoint people because they’re good enough to do the job and they’re the right people to do the job and I have people around me that have all sorts of different backgrounds and all sorts of different schooling, but the most important thing is, 'Are you going to be good enough to do the job?'

"Now, if you take Jo Johnson, someone who’s got an immense brain, an immense talent, very successful journalist at the Financial Times, wrote some excellent books before going into politics, I think he’ll really bring a level of brainpower and analysis to the Policy Unit that I think will be hugely welcome."

And he insisted the Conservative Party was "much more open and much more diverse" than it used to be, pointing to the fact that foreign secretary William Hague went to a "Yorkshire comprehensive" and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin used to be a miner.

The prime minister has also been sharply criticised by some of his own MPs for failing to appoint enough women to the cabinet. He admitted the Tories needed to get a "much better balance of men and women" at the top.

On hearing the news of Johnson's appointment, Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston tweeted: "I'm not asked for policy advice, but just in case ... there are other schools and some of them even admit women."

And in March Epping Forest MP Elanor Laing said Cameorn needed to get on with it and give more jobs to women. "There is only one person who can grasp this and change the image of his government and that's the prime minister," she said.

The Labour Party has made much of idea that Cameron and George Osborne are a pair of "posh boys", a term coined by Tory Nadine Dorries, who are out of touch with ordinary voters.