Posts Tagged ‘Ken Robinson’

Alan Sugar is right. Nick Clegg is wrong. It’s people that matter, not “progress”.

24/11/2010, 03:30:09 PM

by Anthony Painter

Lord Alan Sugar couldn’t care less where you’ve come from or what university you’ve been to. All he cares about is how you acquit yourself both personally and professionally. Your individual performance matters, but so does your emotional intelligence and ability to work in a team. He judges people on their merits as he sees them. To impress him you have to think on your feet, adapt yourself to the task in hand. It’s not merit in a formal sense. It’s about creativity and worth.

Nick Clegg has sought refuge in “social mobility”. Politicians at a low ebb of creativity and imagination tend to. Let’s take social mobility to mean ending up with a higher status or in a more elevated social class than your parents. In this regard, Lord Sugar is highly socially mobile. Nick Clegg is pretty static. The former was luckily enough to be born into a north London working class family; Clegg had nowhere to go really, but good for him in maintaining his family’s class and status.

Straight away we are seeing how ludicrous social mobility can be as a concept. It gets worse. By focusing on social mobility we exacerbate that very British bad habit of obsessing with class and status. Do we really want the measure of “success” to be your class (economic position) or status (social standing)? In measuring success in this way you only exacerbate social division and stigmatise “failure”. In a highly mobile society, anyone who doesn’t end up with a higher status or in a higher class has failed. And to achieve the supposed idyll of perfect social mobility implies a monumental and brutal task of social engineering, the like of which won’t be contemplated- rightly, because it’s monstrous.

Just before the left gets too smug, it has a similarly divisive view of the world. Nick Clegg’s Hugo Young speech has been adversely criticised by some on the left for failing to appreciate the link between inequality and diminished social mobility. This is just as bad. First, it accepts the end of social mobility unquestioningly. Second, it reduces the means to that end to greater “equality” (a lower Gini coefficient). The attitude is basically “we’ll set you the goal and give you help to fly up the social ladder and when you don’t we’ll compensate you anyway then we’ll play the game again with your kids and their kids”. Politically, it’s a nonsensical proposition. (more…)

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