A report was published today which suggests that the best jobs go to the best-connected children and that job distribution is more-or-less governed by the British class system. So what?
No doubt, the BBC will find a successful former council-flat inmate who was brought up by a struggling single-mum and whose father disappeared when they were two – but I bet that they’ll have a hell of a job finding that person.
Remember that the converse is also true. There are many people who were born with all the advantages who managed to screw-up their lives. So what’s it all about? What does Alan Milburn’s report mean?
The preliminary analyses are already pointing to the usual solution. More qualifications. More morons with degrees. We only have 2.5 million undergraduates, let’s bung a few more on the fire. Then we can have the most qualified dole queues in the world. The real answer is that there is no solution. We are well-past the tipping point, point of no return or whatever else you’d like to call it.
The trouble began when Mr and Mrs Thick were told that their Johny could go to University. Mr and Mrs Thick imagined then and still imagine that a “qualeeefeecaaashun” means a good job with no heavy lifting and a Next suit. The sad fact is that even if you bung Mr and Mrs Thick’s son or daughter one of those certificates, sociologically and socially, little Johny still acts, walks, dresses and behaves like Mr and Mrs Thick’s offspring and there’s little that he can do about it.
Man’s most powerful instinct is herding. That’s why we have racism, that’s why we have Harrods, Glyndebourne, Working Mens’ Clubs, Pubs, Gay Clubs and all other institutions and organisations which allow us to herd with our own kind.
Blacks and whites is easy but otherwise your membership of a particular herd is signalled by subtle little things – Your voice, your haircut, accent, clothes, car, shoes, food, how you hold your cutlery and a million other barely perceptible signs – maybe invisible to you but a flashing beacon to members of the herd that you are trying to blag your way into.
In Northern Ireland, the instinct was at its height during the troubles and Protestants could sense Catholics and vice versa, plus their herding instinct was so finely-tuned that they could tell ,from minute variations in each other’s accent , which STREET they came from.
There is absolutely no way that you can consistently mask any of the telltale signals that you transmit to others.
For instance, take an Eton boy, put him in a boiler suit, teach him a Birmingham accent and try to hide him in a car factory – ask him to blend-in. He will be spotted in five minutes. It may be the fact that his skin is in too good condition because his parents brought him up on decent food, it may be the fact that he talks in whole sentences or says “please” and “thank you” or “How do you do? ” when he is introduced. It may be becuse of the way he stands or walks. Those near-subliminal signs are never too far from the surface.
Have you ever spotted a group of foreign students standing around in your home town? If you did, you noticed them because their clothes were different, they had subtly different haircuts or possibly because they were standing closer to each other than members of your own herd. More herd-related giveaways.
Spotting English people when living abroad is easy and often a source of great amusement to the locals. Old English people are fond of beige, young English men are fond of trainers, socks, navy blue and the backs of their legs are red. English women – even easier. It is in the way they walk. They tend to walk with their shoulders forward, whereas, for instance, French women are more upright, will wear a hat forward over their eyebrows, whereas English women will wear their hat perched on the back of the head and look uncomfortable – and they get overdressed to go to a restaurant.
These are all generalisations but each little foible is a small part of a jigsaw which defines membership of a herd.
Why are English tennis clubs so intimidating to the underclasses? Because they have been colonised by the “professional” herd. Can you imagine Wayne or Waynetta Slobb coming in and ordering a pint or two, wearing Primark or Matalan?
So a lawyer’s son will become a lawyer, a doctor’s son will become a doctor, a miner’s son will become a miner and a plumber’s son will become a plumber. They will travel but the likelihood is that they will travel within the constraints of their own herd.
Milburn’s report is yet another attempt at social engineering through the medium of education.
As usual, it will NOT work.