Meritocracy in the UK

Why don’t we, “the great unwashed”, reject the social networks of nepotism and cronyism that infest our nation?

Even the most capable are sometimes forced to dream of Oxbridge
Robert Phillips
On 22 October 2012 16:17

Britain is a country run by a social network. No, not the disruptive and hugely successful websites we use in our everyday lives such as Facebook, or LinkedIn. It is run by two older and much uglier social networks.

The networks start in the education system, and then they carefully meander around publicly and/or union-financed back rooms for a while before heading off towards politics. These networks affect each and every person in the country and are responsible for many of our nation’s ills.

You might know them as cronyism and nepotism.

Of course, nepotism and cronyism are nothing new. They have always existed in our society. The difference is that due to the retreat at the end of our empire, a globalisation we ourselves have encouraged, and new technological advances, the competitive landscape of the world we live in today has changed. We British can no longer look upon ourselves as being particularly special in a way we could maybe 100-300 years ago. This was a time when Britain was responsible for most scientific breakthroughs, new ideas, and the industrial revolution.

Those days have now passed. The social networks are now holding us as a nation back.

If you discount the parties of the extreme left such as the BNP, the Greens, and George Galloway’s Islamist Respect group and concentrate on the leaders of the four main country-wide parties then only Nigel Farage emerges as anything other than a career politician born and bred to rule. The other leaders are all cut from the same cloth. They are millionaires through either property, or inheritance, and are the bastions of family privilege and elitist nepotism.

With regard to David Cameron and Nick Clegg, we know all about their much discussed family heritages and the advantages that gave them. To their credit they acknowledge it.

Yes, it is true that the Miliband brothers went to a Comprehensive school in rough-tough inner city London.  Ed is rumoured to have achieved AABB on his A-Levels, with his brother David known to have gained just BBBD. Somehow though, they both managed to secure a prized place at the most prestigious University in the world. How many inner-city Comprehensive kids with their results get into Oxford University?

I suggest very few. Perhaps their father, the esteemed Marxist academic Professor Ralph Miliband, had something to do with it?

Those often commenting on the politicians are just the same though. Take Polly Toynbee, the left’s writer of choice and perennial favourite of the Trotskyite wing of the BBC. She failed her 11-Plus and left school with just the one A-level. How did she get into Oxford?

Who knows, perhaps Comrade Toynbee’s privileged and prominent family of academics had something to do with it?

The fact that it appears to be who you know, not what you know, puts all of us to shame and diminishes the hope of thousands who either tried and failed with better results to gain entry, or those that gained entry through merit.

Once the wannabe politician has finished at Oxford University, perhaps having read the ever popular Politics, Philosophy and Economics, he/she will likely head towards the safety of pressure groups and the calmer waters of wonkdom. Their tutors will often point them in the right direction.

It is a startling fact that only 34 percent of the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet combined have ever worked in the private sector. To put it another way, a massive 66 percent have zero experience of working in the wealth creating real economy – a truly amazing statistic.

Without the real-life understanding of capitalism and with zero experience of wealth creation how can we hope that the decisions we entrust to them will be made correctly?

How can we expect to get real capitalism instead of the crony capitalism inflicted on the economy?

What is more, how can we expect to live in a competitive and thriving country?

If you look towards Cameron, Clegg, and Miliband for the often stated “change we can all believe in” then you are only ever going to be disappointed with the results. They are not interested in actioning the real change needed. They are as risk adverse as all the other career politicians are. If they come across as one dimensional, pseudo-intellectual political clones who would undoubtedly struggle to hold down a senior management position in your average SME then that is because they most probably would find it tough out there.

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