The question of whether the system is stacked against those of us who did not go to public school or go to Oxbridge appears to have been answered this week. The UK has a deeply elitist society with the top jobs consistently going to those who have come from these institutions.
A truly massive 59% of the Cabinet ministers went to either Oxford or Cambridge whereas the average of the public attending one of these universities sits at less than 1%. This wildly disproportionate representation of the public was brought to the forefront by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission who stated they were deeply concerned about the social stagnation which has occurred in the United Kingdom. The top members of the Cabinet including; David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and William Hague all attended one of these universities.
Around a third of the cabinet, 36%, also were attendees of private school, compared in this instance to 7% of the public who would attend these schools.
A third of all MPs, 33%, and 22% of the Shadow Cabinet went to private schools, reported the Special Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. The findings, for politicians, appear to mirror the wider trend for other influential positions in society. This again appears to indicate an extraordinary amount of bias at the top level of the United Kingdom’s politics and the professional arena.
Those who study at Oxford or Cambridge University make up 75% of the senior judges in England Scotland and Wales with 50% of diplomats attending these institutions and finally the heads of government departments were made up by 44% of Oxbridge graduates. These figures are drastically disproportionate and entirely unrepresentative in regards to politicians when less than 1% of the public are Oxbridge former students. This disregard for representation is mirrored within the House of Lords where 38% of the members are also graduates of the two traditionally aristocratic universities.
The figures do not begin to look any better when considering those who went to private schools also occupy the top jobs. In the case of private school attendees they are far more likely in the future to take jobs at the top of their respective careers; private school graduates make up 71% of senior judges and 62% of senior armed forces officers. 50% of the members of the House of Lords and 44% of the Sunday Times rich list also are members of the exclusive club which appears to grant them these opportunities.
Judges have the most advantaged education by far, in what would be termed the “professional group” of jobs. This is most pronounced when considering that of the 71% of senior judges, 14% of them went to either Eton, Westminster, Radley, Charterhouse or St Paul’s Boys school.
The question would appear to be why there is such a large disparity between these figures.
This was considered a cause for concern by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. The report did however acknowledge that the reasoning for this dramatic of an elitist appearance could simply be due to the fact that the most intelligent amongst us often do go to one of the elite schools. The report does express concern that, although it may be based on intelligence there is often something of a family lineage that are likely to attend Oxford or Cambridge as shown by the House of Lords being represented so strongly in the statistics. Alan Milburn, the chair of the commission, state “The risk… is that the more a few dominate our country’s leading institutions, the less likely it is that the many believe they can make a valuable contribution.”
This appears to be the primary worry. The people who do not attend an elite school do not feel that either their voice or their opinion matters in the wider debate. The massive misrepresentation of those who have not come from the institutional elite such as private education since birth which would be followed by Oxford or Cambridge is frankly abysmal. It speaks of an issue whereby the elites maintain control by hiring from within a community that they themselves are familiar with. This is the reason why affirmative action was so important when it was brought to the forefront because it would force employers to hire outside of the sphere which they themselves were previously comfortable.
An area where one would think that there was more equality would be in terms of sport; but even that is not a safe haven. 35% of the national rugby team members and 33% of the England cricket team were found to have attended private institutions showing us again that there is significant advantage when the name of your place of study is Eton or Westminster.
The only encouraging piece of information in this comes when concerning local government. Local government is far more representative of the population than other professions covered in the research. A much more moderate 15% of local government leaders and 8% of local government CEOs have studied at private schools. This compares with 55% of Whitehall Permanent Secretaries.
This leads us to a piece of analysis which we have always believed to be true but have been unable to prove. Voting in your local elections is the most readily available way to become engaged with the political structure as the candidates are like you and will actually care about issues which are more likely to correspond with your own.
My message to you is this, although the odds may appear to be stacked against those of us who did not have an elite education nor who went to an elite university. Fight those odds. A great many of us have changed the world before in our own small way, who is to say we will not do so again? The elites do exist, it is a simple fact, let us all prove that it does not matter that they do.