How Soviet

Only those with the correct class backgrounds should get the top jobs:

Companies should be told to declare the social background of their workforce to combat a “deeply elitist” culture at the top of public life, the Government’s social mobility tsar has suggested.

Employers should effectively discriminate against applicants from private schools as part of a drive to stop the judiciary, Armed Forces, politics, media and the medical profession being turned into a “cosy club”, it is claimed in a report.

Alan Milburn, the chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission and a former Labour cabinet minister, said drastic action was needed to “break open Britain’s elite” and prevent institutions being dominated by those from a narrow range of schools and universities.

Bugger meritocracy, eh?

27 thoughts on “How Soviet”

  1. Only those with the correct class backgrounds should get the top jobs:

    To be fair, isn’t that the case already insofar as media and politics go? Along with a healthy dollop of nepotism, of course.

  2. People with best education get best jobs…. who would have thought that!

    Let’s make some terminally unemployed Islamic nutter from the local council estate the next governor of the BoE, cause equality right?

    It’s just another step on the road to a central planner appointing people in all the jobs.

  3. See Michael Young writing in the Guardian:

    [In] my 1958 book, The Rise of the Meritocracy. I coined a word which has gone into general circulation, especially in the United States, and most recently found a prominent place in the speeches of Mr Blair. The book was a satire meant to be a warning (which needless to say has not been heeded) against what might happen to Britain between 1958 and the imagined final revolt against the meritocracy in 2033.”

  4. They mentioned on the radio this morning that a large number of senior officers in the military went to fee paying schools.

    Hardly surprising really. We know that children tend to follow in their parents foot steps and this is especially true of the military. The military offers all ranks a boarding school allowance for continuity of education. Maybe the officer class is more likely to take up that allowance but when I was in the army serving in Germany and Cyprus a large proportion of the children of Sgt’s Mess members sent their children to fee paying schools.

  5. Back to that genes thing again? That and nepotism, recruiting in your own image, etc. Given the pressure to be seen as an equal opportunities employer I would imagine many go to extraordinary lengths to recruit from outside the group. Maybe there’s no one that makes the grade? Do we discard the concept of meritocracy in favour of a weighted recruitment policy?

  6. If this comes to pass, I propose we start with the BBC and the Guardian.
    The extent of f***wittery we get from both organisations could only emanate from a lot of public school types.

  7. Employers should effectively discriminate against applicants from private schools


    From Wikipedia: “[Alan Milburn] was educated at John Marlay School [a state school], Newcastle and Stokesley Comprehensive School.”


    They should also run “university-blind applications” to give equal weighting to those from lower-ranking institutions.


    “[Alan Milburn] went on to Lancaster University.”


    So anyway… I’ve never, in my working life, been asked what school I went to. Presumably people could always lie about it. “Oh yah! I mean, yer! I went to a bog standard comprehensive. We had top hats made of polyester…”

  8. Sorry, what.. “companies” should be doing more? When the piece points out that the bias is greater in public institutions like the judiciary and the civil service? And even when they do get to some stats on the commercial world, they limit it to FTSE 350 CEO’s where they find 76 people from the ‘elite’.

    76. If there are 10 directors at every FTSE 350 company then we’ve identified that 2% of them are elites, 3% are not, and 5% are forrins (so we have no idea). The other 90% we couldn’t be bothered with because they’re not CEO’s so who gives a fuck?

  9. And exactly how is an employer supposed to determine the “social background” of the (potential) employee? My response to any such questioning would be MYOFB, as it is with questions about racial/ethnic origin.

  10. “And exactly how is an employer supposed to determine the “social background” of the (potential) employee?”

    Question 1 – Which of these first names is most similar to yours?

    * Steve
    * Sarah
    * Tyrone
    * Kylie
    * Rafe
    * Arabella

    Question 2 – Where do you shop for food?

    * Asda
    * Waitrose
    * Lidl
    * Fortnum & Mason
    * Not sure – staff do that

    Question 3 – Was your school free?

  11. Employers should effectively discriminate against applicants from private schools

    Isn’t discrimination illegal under some Eu whatsit or other? Or am I just being naive and it’s only discrimination the luvvie lefties don’t approve of that is illegal?

  12. I actually read the report.

    The proposed measures (pages 67 & 68) are actually very modest, especially in contrast with the Telegraph’s hyperbole. They include the scrapping of unpaid internships and encouraging more apprenticeships, though they don’t say how they hope to achieve the latter. There’s certainly no mention of quotas, affirmative action, or any such nonsense.

  13. @Steve ‘Question 3 – Was your school free?’

    Mine was free and good. In fact it was so good it was approved!

  14. I trust he will start by clearing out the public school luvvies who run the Guardian – Alan Rusbridger, Polly Toynbee, Seamus Milne, Laurie Penny etc. Should be easy, none of them could possibly claim they got their jobs on merit.

  15. What’s to be done about that very pernicious class, those who got semi-private schooling, in the sense of their parents buying houses in the catchment areas of superior state schools, or pulling strings in the council?

    At least independent schools operate relatively cleanly on simple lucre.

  16. Dongguan John – You say that the people with the best education get the best jobs. Do I take it that when you say “best education” you mean “private education”?

  17. How delightful that the person proposing this is called a Tsar.

    @AndrewM: are they proposing to scrap internships, zero-hours contracts, and endless temping at the BBC?

    Somehow I doubt it.

  18. @ Andrew M
    Thanks for the link. Yes it is far less extreme than the Telegraph suggests – maybe the journalist only had time to read the press release – but pages 17 and 69 are calling for class discrimination and p.69 wants affirmative action by employers, without saying who is going to pay for it.
    Also the report is putting a false slant on the facts by comparing the %age of comprehensive pupils today with the numbers of 50+ year-olds from comprehensives in top jobs. Alan Milburn carefully avoids noting that on his data *Grammar Schools* are more over-represented in the Cabinet than Independent Schools and the ratio of Grammar:Independent is higher for the Cabinet than the Shadow Cabinet. Grammar schoold are more over-represented than Independent schools in most top jobs by his measure.
    The report is a mixture of facts and Labour Party propaganda which may be why the Telegraph attacked it. It talks of only 1% of Independent School Pupils paying Nil through means-tested scholarships – the widowed mother of one boy in the year ahead of me paid £4 per year (rather less than the cost of his food), so he would not be included in the 1%: incidentally he won a State Scholarship so he would be classified as “wealthy middle-class Public School and Oxbridge by Milburn). In my year no-one who paid full fees went to Oxbridge (all the Open Scholars did).
    There are also some elementary factual errors: in the 1950s at least half the Liberal MPs had attended Public Schools: the chart shows zero,
    It is mildly amusing to suppose that he thinks that Gerald Grosvenor got into the Sunday rich list as a result of attending a Public School – some of us might think that the causation went the other way. Wiki says that he left Harrow with two ‘O’ levels and joined the TA as a trooper, working his way up for the next 30-odd years.

  19. Mr Rincewind… yes. personally i experienced both: private school for 3 years and then the best state school in my home town the rest. Private school blew state school out the water.

  20. Bloke in Costa Rica

    We need a new acronym to go alongside TANSTAAFL: NALFOG – Not A Legitimate Function Of Government. I’m fairly sure Alan Milburn is a wrong ‘un and probably should be serving at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, but even if he’s not, the impertinence of a government flunky telling businesses who they should hire is something we could well do without. I’m an extremist on this, though. I think it should be perfectly legal to say “No blacks, Irish or Guardian readers” in job adverts (I also think you shouldn’t do that, but that’s beside the point).

  21. I paid school fees for my daughter because it seemed to be the only way to get her a schooling anywhere near as good as the one I got free in rural Scotland forty years before. Some socialist neighbours, also rural Scots, did just the same.

  22. @ Churm Rincewind
    When I was young the school which sent the most students to Oxford was Manchester Grammar School.
    The Butler Education Act was the greatest leveller in England since the Black Death and Anthony Crosland the worst anti-equality campaigner since William Walworth killed Wat Tyler.
    However for those not fortunate enough to live in the Manchester area and pass the 11+ before Wilson’s governments destroyed the opportunity for working-class kids to achieve careers matching their talents, “private” i.e. paid-for education is far superior to state education.
    That is why people pay for it.

  23. Er, I was too busy with other points to mention that Alan Milburn judges attendance at Independent schools at age 11, whereas most independent schools accept pupils at 13. I have no idea how this affects the %ages that he quotes but it is obviously ridiculous.

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