|Ich bin ein Old Holborns?|
However, I wasn't satisfied with my own explanation so I phoned a friend and asked her what she thought it might mean, reminding her that "body politic", for instance, by contrast refers to the entire electorate and not to the collective body of elected representitives (a confusion I've seen even on the more august political blogs). Couldn't it be the case that we are all part of the "political classes" one way or other, given that in an advanced democracy the people, theoretically, are where political power ultimately rests? Isn't the term therefore mistaken in this day and age?
"Oh no," she answered, "that's not right at all." What did she mean, I asked, fascinated. "Well, it's simple really. 'Political classes' refers to anyone who stands for election, lies to win it, spends the next five years planning how to get re-elected, leaves running the country to a professional civil service, and all the while gathers as much expenses money, lobbying patronage, consultancies and directorships as possible so that if the unimaginable happens and they're voted out by an even more effective liar, then they've got all that to fall back on, plus the gold-plated pension plan. That's what "political classes" really means, with very few exceptions and regardless of political affiliation".
As she said, simple really. Or is it?