The term “the establishment” refers to leading politicians, senior civil servants, senior barristers and judges, aristocrats, Oxbridge academics, senior clergy, the most important financiers and industrialists, governors of the BBC, members of and top aides to the royal family to mention most, but not all.
The term in this sense is sometimes mistakenly believed to have been coined by the British journalist Henry Fairlie, who in September 1955 in the London magazine ‘The Spectator’ defined that network of prominent, well-connected people as “the Establishment”, explaining: “By the Establishment, I do not only mean the centres of official power–though they are certainly part of it–but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised”.
Following that, the term, the Establishment, was quickly picked up in newspapers and magazines all over London, making Fairlie famous. Today, the term ‘the establishment’ is used generally in a negative sense and it’s easy to understand why.
“The British public has become deeply cynical about the political class at Westminster”, states a recent Financial Times editorial.
“Bankers feel they have an ethical duty to steal from taxpayers” — another reads
“Why are we subsidising the royal family at a time of gross inequality” says another headline.
There has been a rising tide of contempt and anger towards bankers, property speculators, hedge fund bosses, politicians and even religious leaders and the royal family.