The question of social mobility has crept up on us as perhaps the most abject failure if President Blair’s ten squalid years of presentation . In the Speccie today Anne McElvoy quotes the now famous study showing that children born in 1958 were more likely to extricate themselves from disadvantaged beginnings than those born in 1970 . The New statesman in one of its many retrospectives sadly observes that the promise of Education education education “, turned into a reality of ,“Location location location”. This is an apt description of the false hopes some had for the super funded comprehensive system and the selection by wealth that it has become . I was pleased to see Chris Skidmore a friend and fellow North Islington Conservative in the Telegraph with at least one tremendous factoid . More Etonian boys gain five good GCSE`s including English and maths than the entire Borough of Hackney. Not good enough Britain ..see me ! Just as important are the half of students that do not achieve a working competence in English and Maths . How tragic that Labour have buoyed up their figures with the coarsest social selection leaving the working classes with nothing. How typical of the betrayal and cynicism of Blair
Conservatives sometimes see the answer to this in terms of voucher schemes Grammar schools and various other doctrinaire or nostalgic approaches none of which I am, certain will work today. Certainly the existing grammars offer no clues . The educational charity “ the Sutton Trust “ studied an area with 12% on free school meals and found that in the Grammar only 2 % were fed by the state . Hardly a motor for opportunity. Sadly it is the Labour Party that are considering following up the Brighton experiment with a lottery while Willets and Boris on team Tory are keeping their powder dry for now . I believe Conservatives must be bold here if they are to attract the working class support that thus far eludes them. Without it they cannot form a Government and they will not be truly national Party
Many years ago a red bearded Trotskyite teacher of “ Social studies “ explained the difference between the Capitalist and the Socialist ideas of society to me . The capitalists ,he said, see class as a ladder whereas the Socialist see class as opposing armies. Without the ladder operating tolerably well the moral case for Conservatism, is merely selfish and “ Libertarian” only in a nihilistic and inhuman way . The case for redistributive taxation is commensurately strong.
Cameron has been hazy and passionless here , and for all his achievements I believe he is making an error of judgement. To camp firmly in the centre he has to show he cares about the whole country and is offering a better way to achieve meritocracy and fairness Educational policy must be used as a tool for Social engineering and Cameron must take on the backward looking elements of the Party. He might start by not saying anything else like this….” One of the great things about this country is that it matters more where you are going than where you came from “
Yeah right Dave , we noticed . It isn’t only the working classes who are left behind , almost anyone who cannot afford Public school is increasingly excluded from top end employment especially in prestigious fields like Journalism and even acting .Judie Burchill trenchantly observed such glamorous milieus are “ .. full of middleclass Prats “ . She went on to say , “And they all have dyslexia which is another word for stupid “..I `m detecting resentment .
The phrase “ One Nation “ has physically repellent connotations of Edward Heath and whole statist consensus of post war politics in both Parties. Nonetheless One Nation we must be and as the problems of social division mount Mr. Cameron`s dalliance with Folly Toynbee`s caravan looks like a theme he must risk developing to me . I would like to see an explicit redefinition of the One Nation ideal for our time .