“It starts at home with Champagne or red wine, before 10 a.m. Then again Champagne. Then pastis, maybe half a bottle. Then food, accompanied by two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, Champagne, beer, and more pastis at around 5 p.m., to finish off the bottle. Later on vodka and/or whiskey.”—Gerard Depardieu
Free to those that can afford it, very expensive to those that can't.
Britain is “deeply elitist” because people educated at public school and Oxbridge have in effect created a “closed shop at the top”, according to a government report published on Thursday.
The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission said its study of the social background of those “running Britain” was the most detailed of its kind ever undertaken and showed that elitism was so embedded in Britain “that it could be called ‘social engineering’”.
Alan Milburn, the Labour former cabinet minister who chairs the commission, said that, as well as being unfair, this situation was unacceptable because “locking out a diversity of talents and experiences makes Britain’s leading institutions less informed, less representative and, ultimately, less credible than they should be”.
The commission’s 76-page report mostly focuses on analysis, but it does include recommendations, saying government, schools, universities, employers and even parents all need to play their part in promoting social diversity.
Looking at the background of more than 4,000 people filling jobs at the top of government, the civil service, the judiciary, the media, business and the creative industries, the commission investigated where they went to school, on the grounds that going to a private school is reasonably indicative of a wealthy background.
Only 7% of members of the public attended a private school. But 71% of senior judges, 62% of senior officers in the armed forces, 55% of permanent secretaries in Whitehall, 53% of senior diplomats, 50% of members of the House of Lords and 45% of public body chairs did so.
So too did 44% of people on the Sunday Times Rich List, 43% of newspaper columnists, 36% of cabinet ministers, 33% of MPs, 26% of BBC executives and 22% of shadow cabinet ministers.
Oxbridge graduates also have a stranglehold on top jobs. They comprise less than 1% of the public as a whole, but 75% of senior judges, 59% of cabinet ministers, 57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomats, 47% of newspaper columnists, 44% of public body chairs, 38% of members of the House of Lords, 33% of BBC executives, 33% of shadow cabinet ministers, 24% of MPs and 12% of those on the Sunday Times Rich List.
The report says the judiciary is the most privileged professional group. About 14% of judges attended one of just five independent schools (Eton, Westminster, Radley, Charterhouse and St Paul’s Boys).
And senior armed forces officers are the second most exclusive group, the report says. Some 62% of them went to a private school, and only 7% attended a comprehensive.
Milburn said that having such little diversity at the top of society was “not a recipe for a healthy democratic society”.
He explained: “Where institutions rely on too narrow a range of people from too narrow a range of backgrounds with too narrow a range of experiences, they risk behaving in ways and focusing on issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in society.”
Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, said the report showed the coalition was failing on social mobility. “Under the Tories, the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and the rest is increasing, millions of hardworking people are seeing their living standards go backwards and child poverty is set to increase,” he said.
Finance is an amoral world, bordering on the immoral. Take the financial transaction tax. The idea: there is horrific poverty so let’s levy a tiny tax and use it to alleviate that. But when I suggest to my clients this might be a good idea, I practically get lynched. No way, they say. They want to pay as little tax as possible, and that’s it.
As I said, amoral bordering on the immoral. Take the PPI mis-selling where essentially banks sold people insurance that was worthless. They get caught and the banks have to pay people their money back. Next thing you know, banks hire incredibly expensive ‘consultants’ to find ways to pay as little as possible.
It’s almost a perversion. The CEOs such as Fred Goodwin and Jamie Dimon and the like. They present themselves as to the outside world as posh and erudite and sophisticated; as supermen. But they are just like you and me, with similar needs and fears. We shouldn’t fall for their spiel.
What would shock readers most when they saw what I see? Let me think. How so many brilliant, arrogant, super-talented young people get abused, sucked dry, burned out and then tossed aside by corporations and banks. In the early days of capitalism it seems the game was to exploit the less gifted; miners, factory workers etc. Today it’s about taking advantage of talent. People are used, then discarded. Especially these days with the crisis. Fear rules supreme. You can get fired any moment, five minutes and you’re gone. Corporations fan out over universities making all these promises. But very few people make it to ‘the boardroom’.
Crowds of tens of thousands gathered in Central London today to protest at the on-going military actions of Israel in the Gaza Strip. Estimates range from 50,000 to 100,000, making this one of the largest demonstrations in recent years in Britain.
Not that you’d know it had even taken place if you relied on the BBC – that’s the British Broadcasting Corporation, I remind you. Despite the fact that this demonstration to highlight the war crimes currently being perpetrated against Palestinian men, women and children in the Gaza Strip brought central London to a virtual standstill all day, the BBC have instead decided that reporting on a small outbreak of food poisoning at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games village is a more important story than the mobilisation in London.