Labour, the part of social immobility

Corbyn to drop social mobility as Labour goal in favour of opportunity for all

That’s the way you could paint that of course. Or, if McDonnell and the Stalinists get into power, downward opportunity for all.

39 comments on “Labour, the part of social immobility

  1. “Social mobility” implies an integrated society and an armistice in the class war. “Opportunity for All”, allows the segregation inherent in multiculti to continue so that Labour’s policy of divide and rule and the politics of envy continue unabated, while political bribes for favoured clusters can be justified as, “fairness”. That’s Marxism, Comrade.

  2. Now there’s a Labour policy I can agree with. Social mobility in itself is rather an odd goal, no?

  3. Socialism places the interests of the Collective as defined by the Politburo over the interests of the individual.

    The State then assigns ‘opportunities’ to individuals in order to facilitate ‘the grand economic plan’, so indeed all shall have ‘opportunities’ just not the ones they might choose or want.

  4. Corbyn may have dropped social mobility as a goal, but the inevitable consequence of Socialism is social mobility… downwards.

  5. If everyone had equality of opportunity, then those with intelligence and ability would naturally move upwards through the social classes. However, it is next to impossible to provide equality of opportunity because one of the prime drivers in determining a child’s success at school is his or her parents.

    Thanks to my Grammar school education and very supportive working class parents, I have been very upwardly mobile. We never pushed our four children, but gave them all the support they wanted. When we moved back to the UK for six years, we moved to Beverley so that the boys could attend Beverley Boys Grammar and the eldest girl could go to Beverley High School. When we moved to Australia, the three children who came with us went to a private Anglican school. We’ve also been in a position to pay about A$30k per year per child for them to go to the university of their choice.

    Although we believe every child should have access to a good education, we’re unashamedly prepared to do all we can to give our kids an advantage.

  6. It also rather depends on the “working class” wanting the opportunity. I once had clients, where the mother wanted to plan to spend a small inheritance on their children’s education, to which the husband’s response was “I don’t want any son of mine to grow up to be a stuck-up ponce!”

  7. Quite so, Nautical Nick.

    My parents were of the view that their five children should have opportunities that they never had. I was the second in our family to go to university, my brother being first by virtue of being five years older than me.

    MrsBud (working class Yorkshire) was expected to leave school at 16, get a job and start paying board. Let me say, I love both her parents to bits, but they were products of their upbringing. I was an object of curiosity as a uni student. There was one girl in the large mining village who was doing a diploma at Sheffield poly.

    Once our children were old enough, MrsBud enrolled as a mature age student studying social work. Out of 69 in her year, only four were awarded honours, only one (MrsBud) was awarded a first class honours. She now earns above A$100k per year as a mental health social worker.

  8. Too much social mobility would destabilise; too little would lead to ossification. Assortative mating and cultural degeneracy in the lowest social classes (eg welfare dependency, sub-literacy, poor parenting) mean that in the UK we have reached the point where social mobilty requires positive discrimination and dumbing down – rather than the recognition of genuine talent and ability.

  9. OFFS give us a system that works where it is supposed to work and in most areas you can just let us get on with it. Not everything is a problem to be ‘tackled’. Give us the freedom and the responsibility and we can work it out for ourselves. Inequality is a condition, not a problem. Social mobility is an option for those who wish it but not a problem if they don’t. Sometimes it is OK if people who achingly want things can’t actually get them.

  10. Out of the 4 kids my parents had, one went to university (at age 36) and the least academic of them all earns the most by quite a bit.

    Out of my class of 30 odd students in university, all graduates with honours. Bit hard to avoid these days, if not passing enough to get an honours degree can retake modules.

  11. NN,

    Both my father and his younger brother were awarded full scholarships to Bradford Grammar when they were 14. My father claims he wasn’t allowed to take it because they lived in the slums and the family needed him to go to work. My cousin claims that his father told him that it was because their father had said it was “above their station”.

    It’s possible that both were true, by the time my uncle got to that age my father had been working a couple of years and money wasn’t so tight, so inverse snobbery could be the reason by then.

    Labour may be on to something, inadvertently. Talk of social mobility implies its a zero-sum game, and to a certain extent it is, unless we move to Lake Wobegone, and those at the top will fight to ensure they and their family will remain there, especially if they feel threatened.

    The flip side is that if everyone believes in meritocracy, which is presumably what they mean by opportunity for all, those who do rise to the top will have a sense of entitlement. I’ve linked to this article before and is still a good read and point well made.

    Theo,

    There’s also assortative mating at the top, adding to the problems of meritocracy and lack of social mobility opportunities for, mostly, women.

  12. BiND,

    Why would those who get to the top on merit feel entitled? The problem is those who feel entitled despite lacking merit. I don’t feel entitled, but I do feel very lucky that fate dealt me a good hand in the intelligence department.

  13. BiND

    Yes, I was referring to assortative mating in the upper parts of the ability ranges – and thinking of Young’s ‘The Rise of the Meritocracy’. Bright people in the lowest social classes tend to get up and go, and then mate and reproduce with someone similar. By contrast, the thick members of the lowest social classes tend to be much less choosy about whom they copulate and reproduce with, which suggests that assortative mating is less relevant in the underclass.

  14. Just an aside… I left school at 15 years of age (unceremoniously expelled) and began working for a living (the year I turned 15 England won the World Cup). Over the years I have worked alongside a variety of people, including individuals that graduated from Oxbridge and Harvard. And while I’d guestimate colleagues schooling as 70/30 State/Private, I honestly can’t recall meeting anyone who admitted to attending a grammar school. In what sort of professions do these rarefied beasts congregate?

  15. Docbud,
    Why would those who get to the top on merit feel entitled? The problem is those who feel entitled despite lacking merit. I don’t feel entitled, but I do feel very lucky that fate dealt me a good hand in the intelligence department.

    And stayed healthy.

    But that’s the point, you might not have felt entitled but there no doubt a lot of Blair’s people did and its the temptation of meritocracy.

  16. Well, a society with lots of downward mobility is still one with social mobility. It’s part of the reason Venezuela is so admired.

  17. Bernie G,

    I don’t regard it as a mark of shame that I attended a Grammar school, there were a lot of us back in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. My bachelor degree was mining engineering, but I was the only one ever from Woking Boys Grammar, so far from typical. My PhD was rock mechanics. Well qualified, experienced rock mechanics who know what they’re talking about are indeed rarefied beasts, which is why I can charge like a wounded bull for my services.

  18. No mark of shame intended – just making the point that you don’t meet many. Rightly or wrongly I’ve always assumed grammars are colonised by the sharp elbowed middle class – and as the SEMC pay a fair percentage of our taxes why not? Might as well get something out of it for themselves.

  19. “My PhD was rock mechanics”

    As in “how to make an amplifier that goes go up to 11”?

  20. I admit I’m now confused. Wikipedia is telling me that a grammar schools are is;

    “state secondary schools that select their pupils by means of an examination taken by children at age 11, known as the “11-plus”. … Under the grammar school system, pupils who pass the exam can go to the local grammar, while those who do not go to the local “secondary modern school””

    I passed the 11-plus back in 1973 and went to Bristol Cathedral which was very definitely a public school and not part of the state system.

    The place was an ‘assisted bursary’, so dad paid about 1/10 of the full fees (IIRC correctly £30 a term) which was still a fair wack for a bus conductor. Mind you we then got some charity to pay most of THAT. So I don’t think in the end he paid much at all.

    I do remember naively assuming when I started that most kids must be like me, with a few paying full fees but it was of course the other way round.

  21. @ Bernie G
    I don’t where *you* come from but I am pretty sure that it’s not the same as me. Our local Grammar School was full of working class boys (partly because middle-class boys were a rare and endangered sub-species.

  22. I honestly can’t recall meeting anyone who admitted to attending a grammar school. In what sort of professions do these rarefied beasts congregate?

    Grammar school old boy here, 80s Gloucestershire. I’m now an IT contractor.

  23. Andrew C – I went to a private school on an assisted place, my parents were poor and paid probably about £50 in school fees over 7 years, rather than the £10k or so it would have cost if had paid full fees.

    Parents pushed me to do well in school, something I resented at the time and now live far away from them. Still stay in regular contact, just don’t get pushed.

  24. @Bernie G.June 10, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Know any NI people with degrees?

    Pretty much all of them will have had a grammar school education.

  25. @john77 and Andrew C… Our local grammar, while vastly oversubscribed, had a number of ‘working-class’ boys as pupils – working-class in the sense that their father was plant foreman or depot manager. Although I passed the 11-plus, the notion my parents could have afforded the uniforms, sports equipment and general paraphernalia that comes with attending a grammar was fanciful in the extreme. I attended a CofE secondary modern instead. The proportion of middle-class pupils at my school was probably a direct correlation to the working-class pupils that attended the grammar. Some parents prioritised Christian values over academic rigour (three of the girls I attended school with married clergy). The year that I entered, children were sorted into four streams: pupils in Class α had all passed the 11-plus and studied for GCEs – O and A-Level; Class A’s pupils had failed the 11-plus, but, being considered bright, studied for CSEs; Class B pupils received a general education, with many becoming apprentices for the gas board or similar. The kids in Class C were kept chained in the basement. Although a ‘bog standard’ secondary modern it was a step up from the sort of school many of my neighbourhood friends attended. Can’t say I ever struggled academically, it just wasn’t my thing – school that is. If I’ve one regret it’s that my poor behaviour reflected badly on my younger siblings, my sister who followed behind me being consigned to Class C. Fortunately she was a bright kid and having worked her way up out of the basement left with 9 O-Levels and 5 A-Levels.

  26. I went to a grammar school in the 60s. My parents woul probably be classed as Middle Class, both being teachers, though my grandparents were definitely working class. My contemporaries were a mixture, from the son of a local businessman to lads who were eventually expelled & became habitués of the magistrates court. The school often had one or two go to Oxbridge, though I went to a red brick & spent my career in IT.

  27. @ Bernie G
    Something wrong if parents couldn’t afford to send kids to the local Grammar School – the whole point of the Butler Education Act was to make a decent education available to anyone with the aptitude and ability to benefit from it.
    I remember being told that the leader of our local Labour Party had not gone to the Grammar School because his parents could not afford the uniform but that was before WWI and in the 1950s all parties were determined that no one should be deprived of their opportunity for that reason.

  28. Labour: How Sure Start has poured billions down the drain

    …You may remember that Sure Start was launched by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown 20 years ago, with the aim of improving the health and development of pre-school children. It was one of New Labour’s signature ideas, with money to match. By 2010 there were 3,300 Sure Start children’s centres run by local councils, at a cost to taxpayers of £1.8billion a year, providing childcare, health checks, advice and information for parents in one convenient place.

    The cruel Tories have cut that budget by two-thirds since 2010 and councils have closed 500 children’s centres, most of them in more affluent areas.

    Last week the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) produced a report which examined exactly how much good Sure Start centres did in their first decade of operation. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/14139

    What that figure means is that for every £1billion of public money sunk into Sure Start, the NHS saved £4million. Or, on a Thatcher-style household budget scale, the Health Service was saved £1 for every £250 that went into Sure Start.

    All of this gain, all of it, was in the poorest third of districts. There were no gains for the NHS from the many Sure Start centres in the rest of the country.

    There must have been other benefits from Sure Start, surely?

    No. The IFS looked for evidence that the centres had reduced child obesity among five-year-olds, or improved the mental health of mothers. It found none.

    My view, for what it’s worth, is that the bright and frequently ideologically-driven ideas that governments come up with in the name of helping children and families are almost always misconceived. But once politicians have poured money in, it becomes impossible to stop them. Sure Start continues to soak up £600million a year. David Cameron’s pet Troubled Families Scheme, long since exposed as a shambolic failure, has cost over £1billion and still Theresa May’s ministers have lacked the courage to kill it off. …

    My view too. Our politicians are too weak to admit they made a mistake and cancel/repeal – in Tesco “Discontinued, reduced to clear”

  29. No, minister. Most parents Don’t approve of gay sex lessons in primary schools

    Remember the British Values agenda – introduced to stop Islamists blowing themselves up on the Tube? We warned at the time that this would hijacked by special interest groups to push a very different agenda – and sure enough we have the LGBT agenda being pushed on to primary school kids. And there is nothing, dear parent, you can do about it.

    Since when was it appropriate to force children to approve of the sex lives of adults? This is on the latest Conservative ‘must-do’ list. Schools Minister Nick Gibb goes full authoritarian saying: ‘Pupils must learn respect for gay love.’ Must they indeed?

    In the piece headlined ‘It’s wrong to protest about the teaching of gay relationships’, Gibb discusses the protests at schools in Birmingham against the ‘No Outsiders’ programme and says, ‘As the Conservative Party starts the process of electing our new leader, I very much doubt that party members or the wider public (a much larger number) will be impressed by any candidate or their supporters siding with those who object to pupils being taught that same-sex relationships are normal and lawful.’

    That’s quite an assumption. In the consultation to this change to the school curriculum, the majority of respondents did object to the teaching of same-sex relationships to young children, so Gibb is taking a punt there….

    Primary School should be Reading, Writing (English) inc spelling and Arithmetic P1-P3, from P4 same plus more English grammar & some literature (eg Narnia) and maths plus start history, geography, science.

    Secondary School: similar

    Politics, beliefs, sex, family, “society” should not be “taught” by Gov’t.

    School is to educate not indoctrinate

    “Conservative” Party: unleash Trading Standards on them for misrepresentation, fraud etc?

  30. @john77… I suspect my father might have stretched to one kid at grammar, maybe two, but not all four of us – and he would never privilege one at the expense of the others.

  31. Pcar, broadly agree, but there’s a practical problem. Plenty of kids will work out their sexual orientation while still at school, with predictable shenanigans. The school will be forced to take a stance in order to at least keep the bullying out of the classroom.

    That can be done without getting deeply into the topic (“think whatever you like, but this the behaviour required from you”) but you can’t keep society out of the classroom entirely.

    As for Tim’s original post, ‘social mobility’ is something we can measure. ‘Opportunity’ is something we can spin. No brainer, for a politician.

  32. Bernie G. said:
    “honestly can’t recall meeting anyone who admitted to attending a grammar school. In what sort of professions do these rarefied beasts congregate?”

    There’s probably a tendency now for them to say they went to a State school (for the State grammars, which is what we’re talking about here), to make it look like they’ve succeeded themselves despite lack of early help.

    As for who went to them – my experience here in Dorset is that the local professions are dominated by Poole Grammar boys (certainly the ones I deal with – accountancy & law – not sure about medicine – surveyors are still public schoolboys though). One friend who moved down here to work years ago moved back up to London (where he did very well) because he found he was shut out by the Poole Grammar old boys network.

  33. @ Richard T
    Estate Agents who knew how to make money sent their sons to Public Schools and the unintellectual majority scraped a few ‘O’ levels and then left to join the family firm, many of whom became surveyors as that does not require much academic knowledge. I immediately recall a contemporary (a couple of months older) who took ‘O’ levels a year after I took ‘A’ levels and subsequently became a Surveyor (although most of them were rather brighter, one I knew was certainly bright enough to go to a provincial university but was better off working in and inheriting his father’s business).

  34. Andrew C said:
    “I admit I’m now confused. Wikipedia is telling me that a grammar schools are state secondary schools that select their pupils by means of an examination ….. I passed the 11-plus back in 1973 and went to Bristol Cathedral which was very definitely a public school and not part of the state system.”

    There’s a mixed history:

    – There are some very old grammar schools that are basically public schools;

    – from the late 19th century there were independent but State-supported grammar schools, who had to give at least 25% of their places free to local pupils who passed the 11-plus exam, but charged fees for the rest;

    – after 1944, there were State Maintained grammar schools, who still only took pupils who had passed the 11-plus, but didn’t charge any fees to anyone and were fully funded by the State;

    – also from 1944, as well as the 100% State Maintained grammar schools, there were Direct Grant grammar schools who continued the old system of charging fees to some pupils but also taking State money in return for making at least 25% of their places available fee-free to those who passed the 11-plus. Some of these were the very old grammar schools, some 19th century, some newer.

    – The grammar system was phased out between 1965 and 1975:
    – The State Maintained grammar schools (the fully-funded, 100% fee-free ones) were closed, merged or turned into comprehensives (although some of them kept the grammar school name, to be confusing), except in a few counties that kept the 11-plus grammar school system (Kent, and Poole & Bournemouth in Dorset, I know still have them);
    – The more independent Direct Grant grammar schools were given the choice of becoming fully State comprehensives or fully private. Some became State (mostly Catholic ones, pushed into it by left-wing bishops against the opposition of the parents), some closed, the rest went private.

    I would guess you got the end of the Direct Grant system at Bristol; an independent school that was mostly fee-paying but took government money to make a number of places available fee-free to those who passed the 11-plus.

    Also after 1975 a few local authorities kept an 11-plus system but without any grammar schools of their own, and if you passed they paid your fees to go to a local private school (sort of like the old Direct Grant system with a mixture of fee-paying and State-funded pupils). I’m not sure there are any of those left now (Trafford used to do it, but I think stopped). (This was different to the Assisted Places Scheme that ran from 1980 to 1997, because that only subsidised places, it didn’t necessarily make them free).

    When people refer to grammar schools now, particularly in discussions about education systems, they generally mean the State schools in those counties that still have 100% State-funded grammar schools with a selective 11+ entrance exam.

    But when someone says they went to a grammar school they could mean anything from what’s now a bog-standard State comprehensive to a centuries-old private school. But that’s English for you – designed to obfuscate, not to convey information.

  35. @ Bernie G
    To my mind, that is still wrong. It should not be a question of “stretching to it” – Grammar School should cost poor or working class parents no more than Secondary Moderns or we are back to selection by purse rather than aptitude and ability.
    I can accept your father’s views, but deplore the malfunctioning of the system that required him to make that choice.

  36. john 77 said:
    “Grammar School should cost poor or working class parents no more than Secondary Moderns or we are back to selection by purse rather than aptitude and ability”

    It shouldn’t usually be a problem these days. My boy is at a grammar school (we still have them down here), but the uniform and other stuff is significantly cheaper than it is at the local comprehensive. I suspect stories of it being more expensive go back to before comprehensives wore uniform (or only generic ones).

    What can cost is the travel, because local authorities are only required to lay on buses to the nearest school; if you want your brats to go elsewhere, you have to arrange and pay for it. Whether that is a significant cost will depend on where you live.

  37. @Bernie G. June 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Surely you had to wear a uniform and have sports gear at the CofE secondary modern?

  38. @RichardT June 11, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    also from 1944, as well as the 100% State Maintained grammar schools, there were Direct Grant grammar schools who continued the old system of charging fees to some pupils but also taking State money in return for making at least 25% of their places available fee-free to those who passed the 11-plus. Some of these were the very old grammar schools, some 19th century, some newer.

    Similar to type I attended, although fee payers <10% and advised to move to secondary modern if struggling.

    The grammar system was phased out between 1965 and 1975

    Not in NI – Bangor Grammar School

    Grammar schools in Northern Ireland

  39. @Pcar… It was of a different order. Truth to tell, the grammar would have been wasted on me. I’m sure whoever took advantage of my absence derived a lot more from the experience than yours truly. Life’s been pretty good and for as long as Mrs G. has a bottle of Pol Roger in the fridge and I can fill the Range Rover’s tank with diesel am happy with my lot.

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