Magazine article The Spectator

Bye Bye, Bullingdon Club

Magazine article The Spectator

Bye Bye, Bullingdon Club

Article excerpt

Cameron and Osborne made my old university club famous. Now it has died of overexposure

RIP the Bullingdon Club, 1780-2017.

It isn't quite dead -- but it is down to its last two members. That's barely enough people to trash each other's bedrooms, let alone a whole restaurant, as the Bullingdon was wont to do, according to legend -- not that we ever did that sort of thing in my time in the club, from 1991 to 1993.

The Bullingdon, or Buller, as it is sometimes known, just couldn't survive 11 years of bad headlines -- from 2005 to 2016, when three of its former members, David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson, were the most powerful Conservatives in the country. For more than a decade the Bullingdon exerted a totemic power so mighty that it spawned several conspiracy theories. One website, 'Abel Danger', claims Bullingdon members are placed 'in positions of power and influence throughout the world and controlled and blackmailed into executing the plans of the power behind the club -- the House of Rothschild'. Twenty years on, I'm still awaiting that call placing me in a position of power and influence throughout the world.

Harry Mount discusses the demise of the Bullingdon Club on the podcast:

The journalist Peter Hitchens was convinced the famous Bullingdon photo was airbrushed to edit out a high-powered member. In fact the photo, badly reproduced in a magazine, just showed the ghost of a member's white shirt accidentally transplanted to the opposite side of the picture.

'Remember, I saw this sort of doctoring the whole time in communist Russia,' Hitchens told me gravely.

Before those 11 years in the limelight, the Bullingdon was rather obscure. I can understand why. The club wasn't secret -- but it was cloaked in a veil of mild embarrassment. Even at the time, I felt somewhat ashamed of having joined it.

I remember walking from my college for the annual Bullingdon photograph. I skulked along Merton Street, hugging the rough limestone wall beside the pavement, my navy blue tailcoat and English-mustard-coloured waistcoat bundled under my arm to avoid ridicule.

So the club's virtual disappearance is no great loss but, before it goes the way of the dodo, it deserves a brief obituary.

The Bullingdon began life as a hunting and cricket club in 1780; the club badge still shows a cricket bat, stumps and a man on a horse. The Bullingdon cricket team even played against the MCC several times. In their first fixture, in 1795, the Bullingdon lost by eight wickets to the MCC at their ground on Bullingdon Green. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.