A socially mobile Britain


Civitas released a report this week showing that most politicians are poorly informed about social mobility in the UK and because of this have created a number of policies that are unnecessary and damaging. It argues that Britain still is a meritocratic society and that there is no need for the meddling and positive discrimination in education and employment that the previous government encouraged.

Among other things, Civitas found that ability trumps class in the UK, with ability being over twice as influential as origins in determining a child’s future success. It seems that actually what really matters is talent and hard work to change your chances in life, not government interference.

No doubt Harriet Harman will be outraged by these findings. Civitas is critical of the last government’s attempts at social engineering, which has encouraged discrimination in favour of working class students at university and has attempted to flatten income distribution through higher taxes and redistribution. None of these government strategies have actually encouraged social mobility. In reality it is through individual striving and ambition that people’s material situations are best improved, not through unfair government policies that prioritise one social stratum at the expense of others.

Ultimately nature isn’t fair and government can’t beat the laws of nature. Everyone possesses different abilities, talents, and levels of intelligence. As such we can’t all hope to achieve the same affluence or status in life and it is foolish of governments to think otherwise. It seems to me it’s about time the aspiring middle classes stopped being unfairly stigmatized and taxed and are recognised, as Civitas highlights, as the motivated, intelligent and productive wealth generators of our nation. It’s ironic the past government has sought to punish those who have elevated themselves through hard work, whilst claiming they are seeking to improve social mobility. Ultimately the lesson from this report is that if the new government really wants to create a fair society then they should step away from any attempts at social engineering and let people determine their own futures.