“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Monday, 11 November 2013

Toffs at the top a Major concern

John Major is concerned, shocked even, at the disproportionate influence that Old Etonians and the moneyed middle class have in every sphere of our national life. Seems that these days an ordinary chap from Brixton, the sort of person who might come from a family of failed trapeze artists and garden gnome manufacturers for example, that kind of person would just not get a look in these days. I have very mixed feelings about social mobility because although my heart lifts whenever I hear a working class accent coming from a doctor or lawyer and I'm all for people reaching for the stars and being able to fulfil their potential, I see no reason why I should cheer on people who aspire to nothing more than increasing their personal wealth and status. If that's what is meant by "social mobility" you can shove it where the sun don't shine. "Aspirational" has come to be a dirty word on the left and a mantra for the right. What I find distressing is the way that the word is now automatically assumed to refer to personal greed and aggrandisement. What happened to gender, class or group aspiration? John Major may have stuck it to Cameron and we can't suppress our giggles and sneers but, and it grieves me to admit this, I think that the PM was right when he claimed, with reference to his own toff background that, "It's not where you come from but where you are going to that matters".

1 comment:

Dr Llareggub said...

Several years ago a good friend qualified as a doctor of medicine. Word got back to his mining village and the locals organized a surprise party for him. But he explained to me that the celebration was very much a celebration of that little community; they were proud that one of their own had succeeded. This is not unusual but it captures what I understand by aspiration. Our kids can do it. So I don't knock the working class youngster who gets to Oxbridge, and I would not clamour for some kind of levelling down that would damage that sense of collective aspiration.