Sunday, 10 October 2010

Social mobility takes a kicking under the coalition

How do you get social mobility? Two basic ingredients, as Lady Thatcher once noted, tell a man who doesn’t work why he should, and tell a man who works to work harder. The nation will benefit, as one will get that most needed of things at the moment, growth. That’s quite important in a recession. Now if you get rid of the carrots it does not matter how hard you beat the stick- it just won’t get the horse to water. Osborne and Cameron spoke of social mobility, they spoke of social justice. By attacking the middle classes, in a series of recent policy decisions, they have undermined both and – most importantly of all the impetus to seek the benefits of pursuing wealth. Or in different terms, the reasons why one should become middle class or richer middle class. So much for the party of aspiration; so much for the Government of fairness.
Let’s look at one recent daft policy to come out- the imbalanced removal of child benefit. It’s not that child benefit being removed that is so much of the problem; it is the nature of this particular policy that ought to cause concern. How can a mother who stays at home to nurture a child where the other parent works be left without the benefit and two parents who both work and might have almost double the salary keep it? The Chancellor’s perverse, disingenuous reason was that there will be some losers and he has to hit ‘every part of society’ (one should note that this an internal term used by the Conservative Party of deliberate reiterative psephology designed to take imaginary left wing voters to bed that do not actually exist). But does this mean that it should be irrational? Does that mean that you should try and trick your way out of an obvious blunder and assume the public are daft? And what of that most important of things: spending time with one’s child to ensure it is prepared for life, and it is supported fully through the vital years? This is particularly important in a time where people often work harder and longer, and see their children less. Parental support so important to a child’s success is being jeopardised through the message given by the Chancellor’s erroneous disparity.
The other policy to note is the real worry for social mobility. The decision to make wealthier graduates pay greater tuition fees, so that their lazier class mates can have an even more fun time at University bunking lessons, boozing continuously and getting a third. The harder you work at University, and the more difficult a course you choose (e.g. Economics, Law, Medicine) the more you will pay for others to do less. Utterly absurd. Take this example, when the best medical students will have the privilege of private practice in say surgery, possibly on Britain’s prestigious Harley Street, they will be paying for a third class flunker in theatre design at some unheard of institute. This will inspire us all Mr. Cameron. Well done. Surely only the mindless of egalitarians, or the mad, will see anything of value here.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2010.
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010.

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