Former prime minister John Major has hit out at the dominance of the "affluent middle class" in public life and blamed Labour for deepening the class divide, in a speech published in Monday's Daily Telegraph.

In Friday's talk to Conservative activists, Major said the number of privately educated men and women in positions of power was "truly shocking".

"In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately educated or the affluent middle class," he said, according to the Telegraph.

"To me from my background, I find that truly shocking."

Major obtained three O-Levels from a south London comprehensive school, in stark contrast to the many privately-educated members of the cabinet and Eton-educated prime minister David Cameron.

Major pointed the finger at Labour for causing a "collapse in social mobility" and mocked party leader Ed Miliband's "absurd mantra to be the one-nation party", claiming they had left "a Victorian divide between stagnation and aspiration".