Nick Clegg and Social Mobility

Yesterday Nick Clegg gave a speech outlining his vision of improving social mobility in Britain; this is something he talked about in the TV debates back before 2010 General Election and is something which he is now aiming to take on. Indeed there is no doubt there is a serious problem of social mobility in this country, indeed this is evidently shown by the rising inequality between rich and poor. This is a gap that has been rising for a very long time. Clearly it can only be right in a proper democratic society that everyone has an equal chance in life and a person’s success in life should not depend on who they know or the value of their family name.

In his speech Nick Clegg stated that he believed a person’s opportunities should depend on “what you know, not who you know… not on who your father’s friends are”. Britain’s top jobs and high earning positions have been held by the same section of society for a long time. This is obviously wrong as we should all have a fair start in life which is not hindered by where we are born or the balance of our parent’s bank accounts. He also urged companies to award internships through ‘open competition’ and not to the ‘well-connected’. However despite all the good in the principles that he is promoting there seems to be an immense hypocrisy in it all.

It was revealed shortly after his speech that Nick Clegg had a significant gain in his opportunities in life through the connections his farther had when he was young. It came about that in his gap year he was awarded an internship with a Finish bank through his farther Nicolas who was also a chairman of a bank, the United Trust Bank. Not only this but it appears his door into the world of politics was opened for him by a recommendation from a family friend Lord Carrington, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s government, which helped secure him a job in the European Union’s trade commission. This therefore means that Nick Clegg is criticizing the very way of life that has benefited him and has no doubt been a help in getting him to where he is now as Deputy Prime Minister.

However, if Nick Clegg is passionate about improving the life chances of everyone and is thus using his position now to help improve social mobility then this of course should be welcomed. It has already been said that something has to be done in our society to make life chances fairer in order to reduce the influence of wealth, class and family status. Despite this there also appears to be another aspect of hypocrisy in what he is saying about social mobility.

If Nick Clegg is truly passionate about social mobility then he would have done a lot more to prevent the trebling of tuition fees at our universities. He and his fellow Liberal Democrat Ministers have aided the Tories in helping to bring about £9000 a year fees for students from 2012. This will clearly be a drawback for social mobility in this country as student’s from poor working class backgrounds will be deterred from pursuing a degree by the fact that they will be shackled by the chains of debt. The effects of having a life in debt were talked about in a previous blog named ‘Trapped in Debt’. It is obvious to see that young people from low economic backgrounds will not want a life of loan repayments and debt interest due to the fact they have lived throughout their early lives with not much money. For Nick Clegg to be critisizing the inequality of opportunities in this country after overseeing the raising of tuition fees just demonstrates his lack of thought and sensitivity on this issue.

It is clear in this country that a person’s success is still highly influenced on where you are born and educated, your family name and background wealth and this has got to be tackled. Despite all the merits in what Nick Clegg wants to do to help with this problem it is clear to see that no matter what he says he will be drowning in hypocrisy. The Deputy Prime Minister has benefited from the way of life which he is now talking down on and although he is trying to help with this issue he has hindered social mobility in this county by the raising of tuition fees. It is fair to assume today that the popularity of Nick Clegg has gone to an even further low.Nick Clegg's tuition fee pledge



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