So is class finally disappearing?

November 4, 2008

Today’s ‘Independent’ (Independent by name, but overwhelmingly middle-class by nature) has asked the question…

So is class finally disappearing?

Their answer…

No, the class system may be better concealed than it used to be, but it is alive and well. It persists in the mind, as anyone who watched the recent BBC2 series, Prescott: The Class System And Me, will have seen. John Prescott rose to the second-highest political office in the land and yet, as he freely admits, he never shed the sense of inferiority that came from being an 11-plus failure and a ship’s waiter. When the Earl of Onslow congratulated him on his success, adding: “You shouldn’t have a chip on your shoulder, dear boy!”, Mr Prescott’s immediate riposte was, “Where did you go to school?”

Where people went to school is still a very powerful indicator of their chances of success, despite the slight closing of the social gap trumpeted by the Government yesterday. A month ago, the shadow Schools Minister Michael Gove released a geographical analysis of last year’s GCSE examination results to demonstrate just how wide it is. In the predominantly white, working-class area of Holme Wood in south Bradford, only 3.3 per cent of teenagers achieved five good GCSEs. In nearby Ilkley, the figure was 86.3 per cent. In the London borough of Richmond, it was 100 per cent. The class system is more than a chip on Mr Prescott’s shoulder; it is there, in the classroom still.

Is the United Kingdom becoming a more equal society?


*The “bog standard” comprehensive schools that condemned children to low achievement are disappearing.

*An 18 year old from a sink estate is likely to be better qualified than a 38 year old from the same background.

*Those privileged by birth, like the Conservative leader David Cameron, try not to flaunt their advantages.


*The gap between the rich and the poor in Britain has almost reached a record level.

*The worse off a family is, the more likely it is to be adversely affected by the looming recession.

*A comfortable background is still the most reliable passport to a good education, even if the gap is narrowing.

While we welcome the debate the Independent seem all too willing to forget one or two things when they present their yes/no answer to the question of class…

  • Failing comprehensive schools are now threatened with compulsory ‘academisation’ and academy schools are already in trouble for favouring children from middle class backgrounds.
  • An 18 year old has better chance of more qualifications because there weren’t qualifications in ‘tourism’ and ‘not-falling-asleep-in-class’ twenty years ago (we’re not trying to say one exam is better than another here and we don’t want to take anything away from the children themselves, but speaking to some of our kids and their friends they seem to think a lot of exams are a bit of a piss-take too; one lad got a grand total of 15 GCSEs even though he’d only sat 6 separate subjects – so what difference do qualification numbers make to our overall understanding of the class divide?).
  • Those privileged by birth, like Tory bastard Cameron, only got their jobs because of their privileged position!

So all-in-all were still a class divided society and the solution remains the same – CLASS WARFARE!


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