Social mobility? The Coalition’s flag should be the ‘Old School Tie’

It's not what you know - it's who: This is the only ticket to upward social mobility in David Cameron's Britain - an Eton tie.

It’s not what you know – it’s who: This is the only ticket to upward social mobility in David Cameron’s Britain – an Eton tie.

Congratulations to Alan Milburn for completely destroying the Coalition government’s ‘Making work Pay’ policy.

It was always critically flawed, of course – how could it not be? It was based on the idea of reducing the money available to people on benefits, in order to make the amount taken home by working people seem like more.

Meanwhile, the real winners were company bosses and shareholders for whom the line ‘Making Work Pay’ is a complete misnomer. A shareholder takes home dividends after investing in a company. Such a person doesn’t do any work for that money at all!

Mr Milburn’s study focuses on working parents, according to the BBC’s report. This makes sense because social mobility is historically based on a child managing to achieve more than a parent.

For decades, Britons have been able to say, proudly, that each generation has been better-off than the last; now, the Conservative-led Coalition has reversed that trend. Working parents simply don’t earn enough to escape poverty and two-thirds of poor children are now from families in which at least one adult has a job.

Falling earnings and rising prices mean the situation is likely to worsen – and what the report doesn’t say (but we can infer), is that this is an intended consequence of government policy. David Cameron will not be thanking Mr Milburn for pointing this out.

Mr Milburn has recommended diverting money currently used to provide universal benefits to pensioners, so that the richest senior citizens would lose their free TV licences and winter fuel allowances, in order to relieve the burden on the poorest families.

But Mr Cameron, who knows that pensioners are more likely to vote than younger people (including working parents), won’t accept that. A spokesman told the BBC those benefits will be safeguarded until after the 2015 general election – in order, we can infer, to ensure that pensioners will vote Conservative.

At least this admission makes Cameron’s reasoning clear!

Some have chosen to lay the blame on Education. That’s right – with a capital ‘E’. Apparently, although Tony Blair was right to put the emphasis on education back in 1997, people just haven’t been interested in taking it up, along with the massive opportunities it offers to attain a comfortable life.

That just doesn’t ring true. Look at Yr Obdt Srvt. I left school with nine GCE ‘O’ Levels and three ‘A’ levels, went on to get a degree and then went beyond that to get a post-graduate qualification in Journalism (making me one of the few news reporters, these days, to have one).

I have never received more than poverty wages – even when I was editing a newspaper. But the effect I have on my surroundings is completely disproportionate to the money I have received – I recently wrote that when I left my last full-time newspaper job, that paper lost £300,000 per year as a result (according to my sources). This very site is currently rated 16th most influential political blog in the UK.

Yet I am as poor as a church mouse!

So Education is not the culprit – and putting teachers on performance-related pay is to chase Education up a blind alley. How would Special Needs teachers benefit from such a system? All pupils have a range of abilities and no two are the same, so how can performance-related pay ever be judged fairly? Suppose a teacher correctly realises that some pupils will never achieve academic excellence but that their talents lie in practical pursuits – should that teacher lose pay for trying to get the best result possible for those pupils? Of course not.

Once again we see government policy following the ‘divide and conquer’ pattern. ‘Take from the needy and give to the greedy’, as the slogan states.

And the flag of the conquering elite is the ‘Old School Tie’.

You’re on very shaky ground in Cameron’s Britain – if you weren’t at Eton.

14 thoughts on “Social mobility? The Coalition’s flag should be the ‘Old School Tie’

  1. Joe Smith

    If Cameron wants me to give him and his party of well fed Fascists the remotest thought of voting in their favour. Let’s increase state pensions to the minimum living wage level. That’s £15496 p/a, per couple, one of whom would be of pensionable age. Made affordable by scrapping pension credit, capping MPs expenses to £7500 per year. Included would be bus passes winter fuel allowances and a Windfall tax on wealthy tax dodgers, let’s say 20% of estimated wealth. And the extra VAT tax raised by pensioners spending more. Obviously, tax thresholds would have rise to this level for those of state pension age. Further savings could be effected by closing the relative DWP departments dealing with PC, passes, fuel allowance.

  2. Nick Woodall (@woodall_nick)

    Social mobility is a complete red herring as it necessarily requires the existence of a class system for people to be mobile through. What you appear to be arguing for is meritocracy which really boils down to ‘I’ve worked harder/ am more clever and therefore deserve a better standard of living than stupid or lazy people’. Typical social democratic piffle.

    1. Mike Sivier

      You’re absolutely right – it IS piffle (although I’m not sure I’d agree with the ‘social democratic’ part). What I should have been doing all my life is sucking up to the rich and powerful around me so I could get a fake ‘job’ earning a fat salary, and then learning to play the tax system so I could cheat the state out of its share of my ill-gotten gains. Right?

      1. Nick Woodall (@woodall_nick)

        Not at all, Mike. I’m simply arguing that social mobility is a diversion; it changes nothing except for those few lucky people who manage to do enough to find themselves slightly higher up the ladder of social inequality than they previously were. I don’t count that as progress.

  3. Tom (AAV)

    I wouldn’t put too much stock in the ebuzzing rankings Mike,

    Another Angry Voice isn’t even listed in their top 100, yet my UK traffic rankings obliterate everything on the last page, and my Facebook reach is somewhat bigger than sites like Haringey Liberal Democrats and Mary Honeyball MEP (who I’d never even heard of until I checked out the ebuzzing rankings) which are ranked by them as significantly more influential blogs than my own page.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Don’t ruin it, Tom! 🙂

      Of course I accept what you’re saying, but I was using that to show that there is SOME worth – not saying I ought to be a millionaire or anything – to what I do.

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  5. Mark L. Potts

    Well said. Medicority has somehow become desirable, mainly because people who know what they are doing expect to be paid. Greed and stupidity have taken over completely and employers are happy with cheap and cheerful. As long as they can tick the box, they are happy. If it isn’t as good as it could be, well, as long the fat, rich arse is covered…

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