A beacon of progressiveness

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By Ashley Husband-Powton, The Regulas, 05 June 2012
 
The rich get richer.  The poor get poorer.  And the diamond jubilee jollifications continue.  Today will see countless thousands of beacons lit across the globe in celebration of plutocracy, nepotism, social inequality and inherited privilege.  For that is, after all, what we are celebrating.
 
The University of St Andrews, attended by His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis – Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine – Duchess of Cambridge, was today revealed as having accepted just 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds in Scotland last year,

By Ashley Husband-Powton, The Regulas, 05 June 2012
 
The rich get richer.  The poor get poorer.  And the diamond jubilee jollifications continue.  Today will see countless thousands of beacons lit across the globe in celebration of plutocracy, nepotism, social inequality and inherited privilege.  For that is, after all, what we are celebrating.
 
The University of St Andrews, attended by His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis – Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine – Duchess of Cambridge, was today revealed as having accepted just 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds in Scotland last year, amounting to just 2.7 per cent of the overall student intake, whilst boasting one of the highest percentages of privately educated students for any university throughout the UK.

The figures, obtained following a freedom of information request by NUS Scotland, saw the other ancient universities of Scotland fare little better.

This entrenched elitism abounds equally in the greater, southerly domain of Her Majesty’s realm and penetrates far deeper than university admissions.  In a progress report following his 2009 study for the previous administration, the UK Government’s independent adviser on social mobility and child poverty exposed the enduring social exclusivity of the most powerful institutions in society.

Although only 7 per cent of the population receive their education at a private institution, the proportion of privately educated MPs has risen from 30 per cent to 35 per cent since 1997, and 13 private schools now account for 10 per cent of all MPs.  In 2010, 59 per cent of the Cabinet was privately educated, up from 32 per cent in the previous Labour government.

Across at the House Lords, over 60 per cent of members were privately educated, with 43 per cent coming from 12 private schools.

15 of the 17 Supreme Court judges and heads of division were educated at private schools before going on to study at Oxford or Cambridge, whilst 83 of the 114 High Court judges were privately educated, with 82 having attended Oxford or Cambridge.

54 per cent of leading journalists were privately educated, a third of whom have an Oxbridge education.

Here is a society in which the ability to succeed is founded upon ones inherited wealth and status and not on merit, a society in which greatness is granted upon birth and not earned.

Here is an antidemocratic parliament unrepresentative of the people to whom it pledges its very existence.  Here is rule by the wealthy, by elitist legislators and media moguls.  Here are the snobbery and superiority soaked institutions home to the impenetrable plutocratic cliques intent on precluding social mobility and equal opportunities.

In the words of Dorling, professor of human geography and expert on health and social inequalities, “It is a sign of the duplicity of our times that institutions which often say they are against elitism do the most to promote it, that governments which say they aim to reduce social exclusion actually create it.”

A perpetual thorn in the side of consecutive governments preaching progressive politics and championing social mobilty, in his most recent book ‘Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists’, Dorling comes to the damning conclusion that Britain is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world, with levels of social equality akin to those of the Dickensian era.

A country in which, argues Dorling, politicians continue to nurture a culture founded upon the damaging idea of social inequality as being unfortunate but inevitable, thereby denying the true injustice of our times.

Elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair are the tenets identified by Dorling as having replaced Beveridge’s five social evils of ignorance, want, idleness, squalor and disease. 

At the dawn of the welfare state, government and people were united in their desire to overcome the evils afflicting society.  The evils of modern day Britain are glorified and perpetuated by politicians and people alike.

As long as society remains shackled by a feudal frenzy of anachronistic values, there can be no social progress.

 

The Regulus is a political publication at the University of St Andrews

Notes:
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/elite-universities-fail-to-recruit-poorest-students.17754964
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/unlock-the-closedshop-professions-7804981.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/21/danny-dorling-charles-dickens-social-inequality