Tories Still Believe in a Natural Social Order

Labour Party

Today I read in the Guardian appalling news that is of particular relevance to my work in the Parliament. This is that some Tory MPs are pouncing upon research that is sneakily reintroducing the idea of ‘innate’ intelligence, which may have profound impact upon educational policy.

All previous studies suggest that success in school is overwhelmingly determined by a parent’s income – as early high-achievers from disadvantaged backgrounds are gradually overtaken by early poor-achievers from advantaged families. It turns out, however, that many Conservatives would like to argue that these findings are wrong and that the reason many children from poorer backgrounds do less well is as a result of their lower levels of intelligence…which just so happens to correspond with their family background.

This news is particularly concerning since political beliefs invariably impact upon policy and this can only indicate many Tories’ disregard for investment in education, predominantly in the early years, as a means of rectifying our entrenched social immobility in the UK. I myself have been deeply involved in the Parliament’s work on education, including writing a report that was overwhelmingly adopted by the Parliament that recognises the role played by socio-economic conditions in determining a child’s educational achievements, and promotes the vital role played by early years learning in tackling social immobility and disadvantage. 

Our country remains one of the most socially immobile in the Western world. Under the current government this problem can only get worse. The Conservatives have already shown that education for the less privileged is not high up on their priority list.

Firstly there was the raising of tuition fees, then the mooted plans to allow the rich to buy extra university places which apparently was meant as a means of freeing up more spaces for those without the extra cash – an unlikely scenario to say the least. The Tories also slashed EMA, a vital and pioneering tool introduced by Labour which enabled and encouraged children from disadvantaged backgrounds to remain in education. Then there are the plans to “encourage competition” through non-state provision of education which in reality means increased manoeuvring ability for parents with the sharpest elbows. 

That some Tories embrace these ideas, therefore, is not particularly surprising but even for a government composed of the most privileged and out of touch members of our society such views and decisions cannot fail to appal. Altogether it is eminently clear that the Conservatives consider education to only be of merit to the elite and middle classes. I personally am glad that the EU is doing its part to push all Europe along the right track for educational provision but it is a shame to our country that our government takes such a shamelessly elitist line on that which is meant to be a right for all citizens.

4 thoughts on “Tories Still Believe in a Natural Social Order

  1. It was perhaps worth reflecting that for all Labour’s talk of fairness and equality, after their thriteen years in office the gap between the rich and the poor widened.

  2. Many years ago psychologists Eysenck and Jensen set aptitude tests which suggested aptitude was 80% inherited, but they then argued as if achieved overall IQ (a weighted average of individual tests for aptitude) were also 80% inherited and only 20% environmental.

    It is mathematically possible for aptitude to be 100% inherited and overall IQ to be 100% environmental.

  3. Well Daniel, it’s worth analysing what actually happened in that 13 years, and relate it to what happened in the previous 18, and indeed relating the events of that 18 years to the 34 years of the postwar consensus which immnediately preceded it, before trying to jump to any conclusions about Labour’s 13 years in power and the wealth gap.

    For 34 years, the years of the postwar consensus, inequality fell steadily until by 1979 Brtitain was much more equal in terms of rich and pooir than had ever been the case prior to then. Then along came Thatcher, who destroyed millions of jobs, structures for training and opportunities, tax breaks for the rich and wage cuts for the poor and those on middle incomes. Needless to say the wealth gap shot up from 79 till 1997, and it was a direct result of Thatcher and the Tories’ policies. Labout got in in 1997, and their policies led to a disstinct slowdown in the rate of increasing inequality, as any graph will depict. It increased, albeit at a much slower rate than under the Tories, because parts of Labour’s policies were still Thatcherite and neoliberal; it did not increase because of Labour, but because of Thatcherism; Labour did not do enough to address the problems Thatcherism had created.

  4. The idea that ‘innate intelligence’ exists and that it is possessed by the aristocracy, old money and the descendants of the rich is a nonsense. It is nothing more than an attempt by the Tories to protect positions of power and influence for their kind, and to entrench even greater social immobility in what is already the least socially mobile country in Europe thanks to Thatcherism.

    The truth is that many Tories fear and resent the intelligence and abilities of people from humble backgrounds and those who didn’t go to public schools and they know that if Britain was a truly equal country in terms of opportunity and life chances they and their kind would be excluded from any power or influence.

    David Cameron and George Osborne’s ascent to power provides ample evidence of the means that idiots with good connections have at their disposal.

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