Social mobility

I was reading an article in the Economist about social mobility in the USA, and reflecting on my social mobility. I came from dust, from nothing. I have come as far or further than anyone older than I  in either branch of my family, the first person in all the twentieth century to have attained to higher education – the first in many generations.  My dad and my mum were clever enough, but the opportunities were not afforded to them.  I have come further and higher than any before me in my family – and the reason is social mobility.  Social mobility in the 1980’s has got me where I am now.  I got A levels, got into a polytechnic, and got a job – all through either luck or just brains.  This illumines my politics and my beliefs.  It is why I have no patience with public school educated sons or daughters of privilege who have got to top jobs through background and education.  This is why I admire Mrs Thatcher – who got into Somerville on a scholarship, and that by luck rather than anything else.  It is why I can feel a bit chippy about many members of the front bench on both sides of the House – they are in the main, public school educated sons and daughters of privilege.  I’m no socialist, but am a firm believer in social mobility.  I believe opportunities should be available for people from the lower depths to rise to the top – the Clive James’s, the Norman Tebbits of this world.  It is why I have little patience or empathy with those who have a huge weight of generational expectation behind them – four generations a clergyman, or four generations an officer of the Royal Navy. I recall talking to the wife of one such officer at a party. What’s that like to be?

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