James O'Brien tears into government's A-level fiasco and Lord Baron Bethell

14 August 2020, 11:04

By Adrian Sherling

This is James O'Brien's passionate monologue about the A-level fiasco that saw the grades of almost 40% of pupils downgraded.

The LBC presenter highlighted two aspects that have made him very angry - the downgrading of pupils from poor schools and the tweet from Lord Baron Bethell about how he got to where he is thanks to grit and determination.

Speaking on his LBC show, James said: "It makes me sick to my stomach.

"If you were doing Sanskrit at Eton College, you probably would have got your grade put up.

"If you were set to be the first person from a bog-standard Comprehensive to go to Oxford University, you would almost certainly have seen your grade go down.

"And they can fix it now. They can fix it before the end of this programme.

"They can just do what they've done in Scotland. Say sorry, admit they got it wrong, square the circle and put these hard-working children from backgrounds a Baron can only dream of back on the path to at least having a chance of bettering themselves, of levelling up."

James O'Brien took aim at the government and Lord Bethell over A-levels
James O'Brien took aim at the government and Lord Bethell over A-levels. Picture: LBC / House of Lords

James was very clear of the debt he has to his parents who saw what a good education could do and put all the money they had to send him to Ampleforth, one of the finest schools in the UK.

So the comments from Lord Baron Bethell made him extremely angry.

The hereditary peer, the Minister of Innovation at the Department of Health and Social Care, tweeted: "I fluffed my A-levels. Taught me how to hustle. First to get a place in Univeristy. And haven’t stopped ever since. Grades are great, but grit and perseverance win every time."

James responded to him: "Meet the fifth Baron Bethell, who went to Harrow School and inherited a Barony.

"The fifth Baron Bethell, extolling the virtues of grit and determination from a social media account that he probably set up on his House of Lords computer?

"I am not being unduly personal about him because he sits in this government, he's a Minister, solely by dint of having inherited a Barony.

"And he honestly can't see how disgraceful his comments are. He honestly can't see how pupils, who have had none of the advantages and the privilege that he has had, have been shafted by the government of which he is a member.

"And he genuinely thinks that grit and perseverance played a greater part in his life than background and education. Born 3-0 up, thinks he's scored a hat-trick."