Social Mobility and Res publica

Social Mobility and Res Publica


Philip Blond the new “Red Tory” argues that the main political parties today are asking for equality of opportunity in the next election. He is opposed to this; and for equality of outcome.


His opposition to equality of opportunity is basically that children’s opportunities are held back by the economic outcomes of their parents lives. In previous debates on social mobility equality of outcome was seen as the more radical demand. This was partly because equality of opportunity was seen as an equal opportunity to fail for many. Blond argues, rightly, that equality of outcome would produce a more just society, and a more just politics to achieve this society.


Leaving aside the easy criticism that this is a return to a political utopianism of the right, in that moral ideas change society; there now much social and economic evidence that distance from the bottom to the top of British society has grown greatly in the last 20 years or so. However earlier studies from Oxford University showed that this distance had narrowed in the post World War Two years. Social inequality both widens and narrows. But the post war narrowing had only little to do with political values, and much to do with free health care and schooling.


A more conventional Conservative view slowly appears when Blond argues for justifiable social inequality. This would be based the presence of “skill and application” amongst those at the top.  Presumably their lack of presence at the bottom and middle would further justify inequality? But inequality based on “ancestry and upbringing” cannot be justified.


This argument does have a radical ring to it. But it does raise the question of who gets these skills and applications; and how? Would Blond accept that it is possible to get these skills from ancestry? This would justify what he claims cannot be justified. Or does it come from education, job training, pre –school nurseries; which his party wants to cut!  


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