Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
UNEMPLOYMENT / NOV. 13, 2013
version 6, draft 6

Social Mobility and the Rule of the Elite

David Cameron has always faced criticism for the privileged upbringing he and a lot of his cabinet enjoyed. But as a multimillionaire, distant relative of the queen, he is bound to attract some resentment. But is this really a valid reason to criticise the prime minister? After all, demonising someone because of their wealth is just as bad as demonising them for being poor. So why is it that so many (particularly graduates of this generation) feel such bitterness towards the country's leader? Well, the 'elite' cabinet are setting the standards of a society where only those from priviledged backgrounds achieve great success. And what with the new 'austerity forever!' measures, it seems that these elite leaders are making it even harder for those who are not from wealthy backgrounds to do well in life. So how can we NOT criticise the PM?!

Merit vs. Privilege

It is 2013, privilege and wealth are not supposed to determine where you will end up in life any more. The PM himself has said that "What counts is not where you come from but where you are going". However, it seems that we are reverting back to the days before the World War II when the country was lead almost exclusively by the elite. There is a global financial crisis and we have all seen its huge effect on social mobility. In fact its effect on the middle class has been very pronounced. The middle class students and graduates with much increased fees and debt, but also much reduced job prospects are becoming disillusioned. It is looking as though they will actually end up worse off than their parents.

Are we shooting ourselves in foot because the new generation of graduates, are affected by this situation and austerity measures, and these graduates could well be the next leaders? 

Which University you go to is increasingly being decided by whether or not you went to a private school or not. With parents’ income falling, fewer parents can afford to send their children to private schools. This situation has caused politicians to consider reinstating the free selective grammar school system. One of the biggest advocates of this is former Tory Prime Minister John Major who was the son of a Circus Performer.

Given the recent educational and benefit reforms such as ‘Free Schools’, which the current government have made, it is easy to see the merits of this line of thinking. This is quite controversial; the focus on merit would limit the number of people going to University, but would mean that most of the people who got there deserved to be there. This concept is controversial but it is valid as too many graduates, is one of the reasons for there not being enough graduate jobs. Tony Blair’s idea that everyone should go to University is a bit silly. It doesn’t increase social mobility, it helps to stifle it.

Austerity Forever?

David Cameron has just announced that he intends to keep austerity measures in place after Britain’s debt problems have been solved. He thinks that people have learned to do more with less, and as a result, the country is running more efficiently. This kind of thinking is easy for someone from a privileged background as they do not have to endure the austerity measures which they put in place. David Cameron or his Cabinet are never going to be one of the 12,000 patients who were left waiting in hallways in NHS trolleys last year. As for police cuts; he has his own armed police escort, so they are irrelevant for him. The increase of University fees to £10,000 per year is not an issue if you are a multimillionaire. And let’s face it, none of his children are ever going to be out of a job, as they can either work for daddy, or just use their father's contacts. If David Cameron was forced to live on welfare or pay for University fees on a wage of £40,000 a year, he may not be so quick to propose that the austerity measures should last forever.

There is nothing wrong with having a privileged PM, it is what the PM and Cabinet do during their time in office which cause the problems. As far as graduates are concerned, David Cameron has done nothing to help them and everything to impede their career prospects and social mobility. The best and brightest are once again those from the most expensive schools. What is really needed is a less saturated job market and an education system based on merit over privilege. The one closest to this is the old grammar school system much loved by so many people. Cameron is just emphasising how out of touch he is with normal people by now announcing he wants to keep austerity measures in place forever.

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