The return of class origin to the BBC

We did rather think that Britain had got over this sort of nonsense these days. It's no longer necessary to have an accent that makes the Queen sound positively estuarine in order to get onto the radio these days for example. And yet we seem to be getting back this idea that class origin should be the (or at least a) determinant of who reads the footie scores out to us:

BBC staff will be asked to disclose details of their family income and upbringing, as part of new plans to ensure that the corporation is not dominated by the middle classes.

The BBC will announce today that all new employees will be asked to answer a range of questions about their socio-economic background, including whether they were entitled to free school meals as a child, which the broadcaster says will allow it work out whether its workforce reflects modern Britain.

It's most certainly different from Reith's initial conception of what the BBC was to be for, which was rather to teach everyone to be middle class. But that's not the only historical echo we hear: half of Europe was ruled for generations on the basis that class origin determined near all. A background in the bourgeoisie condemned one, decent proletarian roots promoted though the ranks of the society. It has to be said that the experiment didn't work out well. So we're rather puzzled as to why people are so keen to repeat the error.

We would propose something perhaps a little to novel for most tastes. Hiring and firing of staff based upon their competence. If someone, yes, even a white upper class elderly male, turns out to be good at interviewing people sitting on sofas then hire them and a sofa. If there's a QQ (as we understand the acronyms these days, "queer, questioning" is a possible combination) who's a dab hand at sorting out radio interference then hire them if radio interference is the problem to be solved. Class, gender, sexuality, race and yes, class origins, just aren't to us the correct criteria to be hiring people upon.

And if the BBC really is concerned about diversity then perhaps they might like to pay attention to the only sort that does actually matter, intellectual diversity? A few more people who think a little further out of the usual soft left establishment box perhaps?