The mantra for today is “A Fairer Society”. Well, Mr Cameron, the ball is well and truly, as they say, “in your court”. To quote from your speech on immigration five years ago, “No ifs, no buts”. So what does that fairer society comprise and how do you start to create it?
Firstly, though, what is it? Well, it’s one in which, to use a religious expression, “we are all equal in the sight of god”. Yes I know, heresy for someone with my views on religion but, in essence, none the less, true. It is one in which we should all be able to develop our abilities and talents irrespective of the scale of our parents’ wealth. From what I’ve read, talent is fairly evenly distributed throughout society whereas the resources to foster and develop it aren’t. That redistribution will be a massive task but one that is central to the issue.
Importantly, there needs to be an explicit recognition of that which is implicit in your statement; which is that what we have now is manifestly unfair. In addition, in your five years in government so far, you have made that situation considerably worse. I read an article in The Guardian recently in which the journalist made a comment to the effect that you genuinely believe that, if it is good for those at the top, it is good for everyone. Well, that was always nonsense as the last five years have amply demonstrated.
These things are also not just important in their own right. If our country is to prosper in this, increasingly global, commercial environment, we must surely address that issue as a matter of some urgency. Of direct relevance, for example, is why we subsidise private schools, which, for some reason, we call public ones, to the tune of £700m per year? We might as well subsidise five-star hotels. They’re both the preserve of a small, privileged elite. The difference being that five-star hotels don’t shore up a centuries old system of institutionalised inequality. Oh, and before you say that that’s the politics of envy, it’s not. It’s that of a fairer distribution of resources as the bedrock of that fairer society.
I could go on and on. However, I would make a practical suggestion. Before the last election, you will, no doubt, have read Jesse Norman’s book, “The Big Society”. Might I suggest that you do the same with my own, “The Real Big Society”? Readily available on Amazon, it describes that society with it historic precedents and current, practical examples.