Privilege is a very complicated thing, as privately educated white men know only too well. No one gets to choose who their parents are, not even people whose parents happen to be extremely rich. Hence it would be terribly unfair to judge a child on the basis of which school they attended. We should all aspire to be class-blind, even those whose inferior education has made them less likely to hold opinions that matter anyhow.
Thus it is with horror that many have received Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock’s suggestion that companies should ask job applicants whether or not they went to a private school in order to “develop a national measure for social mobility”.
Quite how such a measure will counteract the UK’s horrifying gap between rich and poor is unclear, but it is enough to strike fear into the heart of every defender of those great British values: meritocracy and fair play.
According to the Telegraph’s Charles Moore, Hancock “is trying to impose . . . systematic bias in employment”:
“Instead of employers working out who is the best candidate for the job, he is trying to conscript them into his babyish attempt at class war.”
Meanwhile, Lord Waldegrave, a former Conservative minister, now Provost of Eton, has threatened to resign from the party over the proposal, describing it as, “quite wrong to punish children for decisions taken by their parents, and to run the risk of choosing crucial public service jobs not on the basis of merit but of social engineering”.