Like John Harris, I went from a comprehensive school to Oxbridge, and my experience was very similar to his (To understand the Zahawi story and Tory sleaze, look no further than Britain’s posh cliques, 29 January). The consequences of this for all in society are becoming increasingly clear.
It puzzles me very greatly that in an era when we have rightly banned direct and indirect discrimination in many forms, discrimination against the massive majority of the population who attended state schools remains lawful and (particularly in its indirect form) common. This form of discrimination affects far more people than any other.
Why is the reception of a state education not made a protected characteristic under the discrimination legislation? Then former public school boys and girls would no longer be able to ensure their own gross overrepresentation in the ranks of those who hold positions of power and influence.
• John Harris’s analysis of the “posh clique ruling us” is a powerful account of the way educational privilege is used to obtain positions of power and influence. He then tells us that in 1989 he went to Oxford University.
Chris Elliott, then readers’ editor, dealt with this issue in 2011. A round robin of journalists on the Guardian and Observer garnered 178 responses out of 630 journalists. Of the replies, 67 went to either Oxford or Cambridge. That is 37% of the replies, or 10% of the total number of journalists – a significant chunk of Oxbridge graduates for any newspaper, let alone the Guardian.
The issue that John raises of a posh clique infiltrating positions of power is important but complex. To imagine that Oxbridge is the fundamental problem is to ignore the significance of many other prestigious universities targeted by public schools. I fully support John’s argument for reform and positive discrimination. Where that leaves the Guardian is intriguing.
Castle Bytham, Lincolnshire
• John Harris is so right about the posh clique of public school alumni and their malign influence. He then tells us about his education history. And yet he did not name the comprehensive school or the state-sector sixth-form college that he attended. Let’s hear it for state education and promote these schools in the way that Eton promotes itself.