Is This The Best-Educated Shadow Cabinet Ever?

David Cameron’s recently unveiled his new Tory team; I’m struck by just how many academic baubles they’ve picked up between them.

I count two Cambridge PhDs (Oliver Letwin MP, moral philosophy; David Lidington, Elizabethan history); at least five Oxford firsts (David Cameron, David Willetts, William Hague, Philip Hammond [all PPE] and George Osbourne [history]; not sure what Alan Duncan’s degree class was, but he held a Kennedy Scholarship at Harvard, which suggests it might not have been bad); and there’s also Caroline Spelman (1st, European studies, Queen Mary College, London), Theresa Villiers (1st in law from Bristol, followed by an Oxford BCL and five years lecturing at KCL). And of the remaining dozen or so, virtually all seem to have degrees (does Lord Strathclyde? I’m not quite sure what google search string to use on him), half from Oxbridge.

The most impressive intellectual achievements are probably those of David Lidington, the new shadow secretary for Northern Ireland, who captained Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, to victory in the 1978 instalment of University Challenge, and then led the same team to victory again in the 2002 University Challenge Reunited champion of champions contest!

UPDATE [4.45pm]: Letwin’s 1982 thesis was on “Emotion and emotions”, and I assume it was the basis of his later book Ethics, emotion and the unity of the self; Lidington’s 1988 thesis was on “The enforcement of the penal statutes at the Court of Exchequer c.1558 – c.1576”.

UPDATE [13.12.2005]: Contributions in the comments suggest that Osbourne didn’t get a first after all, but that Andrew Mitchell (history, Cambridge) might have done, keeping the score at roughly what I thought it was.

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