Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Intern row deflects from the real weakness in the Coalition's social mobility policy

The hypocrisy charges levelled against the Coalition for its social mobility initiative yesterday have been misplaced.
LibDem leader and deputy PM Nick Clegg provided critics with a rod for his own back when he included moves to counter the practise of unpaid internships - which favour the young of well-connected families - among other measures to improve social mobility.
Clegg was obliged to admit his early career was given a head-start in a manner that smacked of nepotism once removed.
Having acknowledged the unfairness of this branch of the Old Boy’s Network, the hypocrisy accusation doesn’t stand. Otherwise anyone who has seen the error of their ways from St. Augustine on down could be attacked on the same specious grounds.
No, the hollowness of the Coalition’s desire to improve the life chances of the young of disadvantaged families is, as Tory maverick David Davis expounded in PoliticsHome, exposed by its new education policies.
Social mobility in the UK is still rueing the destruction of grammar schools. Despite Tony Blair’s “education, education, education” promises social mobility under Labour, at best, stagnated.
Unhappily Michael Gove’s plans to open free schools will favour the children of the pushy middle class. As Davis points out the pupil premium will not redress the balance, while the size of tuition fees at the top universities will conspire against bright working class students.
Returning to the intern issue before closing, I attacked The blight of unpaid work for those who can afford it more than a year ago.

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