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Angela Rayner row

I can’t help being an Etonian 

Eton pupils on the way to the classroom. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Why did Angela Rayner include “Etonian” in the “laundry list of moral abominations” she pinned on the Tories in a recent speech, asks Sam Leith in The Spectator. Homophobia, misogyny and “other forms of horridness” are “defects of character”. To be an Etonian, as I am, is an accident of birth. And if we shouldn’t judge Islam by the actions of Osama bin Laden, why should we judge every Etonian by those of David Cameron and Boris Johnson? Most Etonians are keen to integrate into mainstream society. “With each generation, more and more of them ‘marry out’ and will tend to call taxi drivers ‘mate’ rather than ‘my good man’. Some even end up on public transport.”

Of course, anti-Etonian prejudice isn’t a pressing social injustice. But the Labour party is supposed to fight against “those who dehumanise and revile whole categories of people on the basis of a single characteristic” – a principle that would be endorsed by Old Etonians such as Shelley and Orwell. Rayner, however, is indulging in “out-group hatred”, which can lead to ugly and rancorous politics. My own beliefs are probably closer to hers than to the PM’s, but it would be bizarre for me to regard my right-wing colleagues as scum. “Argue against them, sure. Demonise and dehumanise them? Nuh-uh.”