Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Labour hypocrisy & UK social mobility

The eighties were a fantastic decade for Britain. Those were the years when we finally moved on from the end of Empire and the disaster of the Second World War; when we burst the shackles of Socialism and embraced the freedom and empowerment of capitalism.

As a result of the policies of Thatcherism, millions of people were able to raise themselves, improve their financial lot and seize the opportunities placed before them.

What of the last decade or so under Labour, who purport to be the Party of the Common Man?

It is one of the most depressing statistical features of modern Britain that social mobility has declined in the past 10 years, and is getting worse. Most social and economic historians would agree that the Thatcherian revolution of the 1980s was a liberating event for millions of people in the old working classes, who not only bought their own houses but also shares, and a stake in Britain's economic growth. They moved on up. Now the canals of opportunity are freezing up again; the ladders are being kicked away.

A recent LSE study found that Britain was the most socially immobile of eight similar advanced western countries, the others being Canada, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the US.

As the article explains, Labour has become a Party of hypocrites, embracing the very social privileges they used to condemn. And what of the lowest 20% in British society? What do Labour do for them?

They are using every opportunity to boss them and make them conform to their middle-class mores. They tell them not to smoke. They tell them not to be so fat. They tell them not to drink so much. They tell them they may no longer go out with the hunt. They are so full of revulsion when they see a chav belting her kids in the supermarket that they seriously contemplate banning smacking.

They keep them snared in a super-complicated system of means-tested benefits, with its infinite disincentives to saving or work. Above all, they tax them an exorbitant proportion of their incomes. It is there that a reforming and compassionate Conservative government should begin. The real class war is not between Labour and Tory; it is in the treatment by the middle classes of the bottom 20 per cent, and it is a war being waged by Labour.

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