Tuesday, 12th November 2013

by Joshua Gaskell

Private school influence in public life ‘shocking’ says Major.

– BBC News website, yesterday

Good point. Except that Major blames ‘the collapse in social mobility’ on the last Labour government.

Whilst it’s true that New Labour disappointed people’s expectations in many ways and failing to reverse this trend was one of them, a 2010 briefing on Parliament’s own website states that ‘The IFS has shown that without Labour’s redistributive tax and benefit policies since 1997, inequality would have risen even more sharply’, and as The Spirit Level demonstrates, more unequal countries have correspondingly less social mobility.

So Major is having a pop at the party which had (in his own view, apparently) the right intentions, and modest success in reversing an undesirable trend. And he’s doing so despite having led the party the true raison d’être of which is to perpetuate inequality (a characteristic it happens to share with the private schools he mentions) to which end it built an intentionally hard-to-reverse trend in that direction into the very structure of the economy, a project which began thirty-five odd years ago when he was nobbut the Member for Huntingdonshire.

Major may be, as someone has said of him, the only Prime Minister of the last half-century who seemed to actually like people, but this intervention of his nevertheless rings like a cracked bat.