Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Class Barriers The Myth

Well its Obama day and over on Liberal Conspiracy that means its time to discuss race . In what is a thoughtful article by Sadiq Khan MP and Sunder Katwala they argue that race cannot be properly addressed outside the general need for equality . These are the key points :

. Only 2% of Labour MPs in the class of 1997 were black and Asian, but that rose to 7.5% by 2005, when the population is 8% non-white. 10% of new candidates from non-white backgrounds in current selections. ….But will these positive changes go deeper than extending to black and Asian lawyers and Oxbridge graduates similar chances to join their white peers in the political class?
…..Many people praise Barack Obama for closing America’s culture wars. He does so by recognising an obvious truth: class matters. If we want a fairer Britain, we must, like Obama, mobilise broad coalitions to make change possible. That is why we too need a new politics of race..

I applaud their recognition of the tokenism of the current dispensation but I do not like the direction of travel one bit as you might expect. This is what I had to say :

Firstly ,by fairness , in yet another sinister New Labour piece of Orwellian linguistic vandalism, you mean equality and socialism . This is not fair , but if it was such childish utopian dreaming has been tested to destruction on many occasions. It makes little difference if everyone is on the same deckchair if the boat is sinking and ‘prizes for all’ does not work . Stop abusing the language
Thus far, in order to attain this equality you have given black and Asian middleclass go getters a quite unnecessary leg up at the expense of others with more talent ,who may have also overcome more disadvantage . This counting up of the differently pigmented is obscene racist and produces craven yes men , and women, reliant on favour . The Blair babes are a conspicuous example of the over promoted token . More broadly you have removed money from those who earn it and giving it to those who do not . Fair ?.
What I like about this piece is that it does , quite thoughtfully , address the problem that by focussing on every category but class you end up alienating the white working class . This is problem for the Labour movement who like to pretend they care about such things and from whom their money is extracted via the unions . (The subject of much agonising in the New Statesman for years now ) The problem you have is in trying to placate the first losers in your trendy victim of the day schemes you have mixed two quite different categories
. Class is what is called an ” achieved characteristic “ whereas race and sex are “ascribed” at birth . Successful children can indeed become middleclass whereas barring Michael Jackson black men do not often be come white women. The crux of the argument is that disadvantages encountered like lack of parental support and the expensive schools enjoyed by Harriet Harman and Polly Toynbee`s children is a impenetrable barrier . This is simply not true .

Research done on those born in 1958 shows the largest factor determining someone’s class destination is IQ accounting for half the explained variance in class variance . The amount of work is the next largest factor . The combined effects of class privilege or disadvantage are 17 % of the explained variance ( This from Professor Emeritus Peter Saunders but the research is well known.) If you look a the matter multi generationally the compounding of non class effects are overwhelmingly predominant . The fact is then that a clever hard working boy despite Labour`s efforts to stop him , has a very good chance of changing his class . His children will suffer virtually no significant barrier if the characteristic are inherited .( Labour again wished to stop this movement by loading up inheritance tax and have not understood why it was so hated ).
I have more to complain about .There is no-one like me in Parliament , a normal working bread winner in private sector career who has not made a dot com killing . I rather like Nick`s ideas. The relatively unimportant matter of the shape of the Parliamentary career is one which you are unwise to tamper with. It currently favours either those with inherited money or union / public sector employees without competitive careers . The result is the ‘all rights no responsibilities’ infantilised society we see around us .


Daisy said...

there used to be something called survival of the fittest...wherein people who truly wanted to survive, did...those who did not...well, did not...we have gone away from that to a different modality...if you aren't fit, or in most case just choose not to do anything, we will take care of you and feed you from our own mouths...the ONLY place this happens in the wild is with a mother to her babes...we are going against the natural order of things but no one seems to care...

Philipa said...

"The Blair babes are a conspicuous example of the over promoted token"

That was so patronising and the women simpered and just lapped it up. I despised it.

Years ago politics was run bypeople whith other incomes and politics itself was not a breadwinning career. Of course there are negatives to that but it does provide the positive of acting as you see fit rather than acting as your wallet sees fit.

I don't think there's much we can do about long term politicians being appointed to this or that board for money whn they leave office. Money for their name cause they know sod all, let's face it. They assembled reports from experts, get their public servants to read them then ask the public servants which is the most politically beneficial thing to do. Then they did it regardless of the consequences to us.

Newmania said...

Daisy \I think we have been against the naturtal order since the cavemen so I would not worry overly about that

Phillipa interesting second para , Its a point isn`t it

an ex-apprentice said...

By "fairness" they may mean socialism but they do not mean equality. By setting targets, by encouraging positive discrimination, whether overtly or not, they simply exchange one aspect of discrimination for another.
Their excuse, of course, is that the ends justify the means. Where have we heard that before?

Philipa said...

Um.. spanish inquisition?

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