( TEN MINUTE READ)
In most of the world social class is clearly no longer neatly defined by occupation, however like it or loathe it, many countries still see the class system as a quintessential element of life.
In England the question of course is tainted by its past history. The British Empire, the resulting Industrial Revolution, which was disfigured by class, and the treatment of working class lives as expendable.
The pandemic has intensified and laid bare the class divisions and racism entrenched within capitalist Britain.
There are many issues that impact on and are barriers to success and social mobility for all those who come from disadvantaged and impoverished backgrounds. Gender, disabilities, ill health, geographical location, accessibility of childcare and a lack of a social network are factors that impact those impoverished which don’t discriminate on ethnicity, and would be considered to be class related issues.
Classism creates unfair advantages for the wealthy and unfair disadvantages for the poor and combined with racism it is systemic in the UK.
For the majority of people, the colour of their skin and ethnic background is not one of these barriers to upwards social mobility but for black and ethnic minority (BAME) brits this is a very real issue, and one that can also be the cause of downward social mobility. (Where do you come from?)
It is related to how a capitalist society works, and hierarchies are ingrained in the nature of human beings, disguising the root of the problem.
The phrase ‘Black lives matter’ does not mean that other lives don’t matter or don’t have issues; but this is the most pressing issue that society needs to focus on right now.
To this day English citizens are still subjects, called serf, to a Royal Family that gives permission to form a government.
Without a written constitution that could provide opportunities for the public to influence the political process.
The UK constitution can be altered relatively easily by the government of the day, meaning it changes more frequently than many other constitutions. It is often said that the UK Parliament is ‘sovereign’. This parliamentary ‘sovereignty’ means that Parliament can make or unmake any law, without being limited by a constitutional text.
Without a written constitution it leaves the political system open to abuse. This lack of clarity can also be exploited by those in power to get away with things that would be more difficult if the rules were clearer. It also can make the business of governing harder, as there will be doubts surrounding the roles and responsibilities of different political institutions.
Constitutions place both limitations and obligations on governmental organisations in their relationship with the people. The UK’s constitution is different from many other countries in that its core aspects are not contained in a single legal source.
Proponents of a codified constitution argue that stating clearly all in one place how the political system operates would enable the government to better serve the public and the public to better engage with government. Instead England has 798 life peers ( some with life hereditary) in a second chamber, of lords and baronesses with average age of 72 who scrutinise, government actions / bills etc. To date, 1,517 life peers have been created under the Life Peerages Act 1958.
This vast and elaborate structure grew up almost in secret and is now after the Covid out brake showing alarming signs of dilapidation.
So class distinctions do not die; they merely learn new ways of expressing themselves.
Boris Johnson appointed 79 life peers since he became prime minister in July 2019.
Of Boris Johnson’s cabinet 64% are privately educated. And even worse, Johnson is the 20th UK Prime Minister out of 55 to be educated at Eton owing their place to their families’ wealth and greed.’’
Class is no longer simply a vertical ranking linked to capital and a system of production. What class, for example, is a university graduate working in a call centre, renting with friends but expecting some “help” with a mortgage from their parents in later middle age?
CLASS still matters.
It defines much of Britain and Scotland. It shapes life chances, educational opportunities, work advancement and careers, health, life expectancy, culture, politics – and who makes and does not make the key decisions in society.
The current Government mantra of levelling up IS NOW A FORM OF social apartheid disfigurement.
For example the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 when 72 people died.
Quantitative easing by the Bank of England over-inflated assets and provided a state backed bonanza inflating the portfolios of the super-rich as a result the UK is on a trajectory to become the most unequal of the richest twenty-five nations of the world.
As the UK experienced a decade of stagnation for most people, the richest 1,000 families saw their wealth double.
Because the British class system has its protections at every level of its society, so levelling up will have little dent on the citadels of power and privilege.
Great British Class Survey discovered seven distinct classes in total, with an elite (representing roughly 6% of the population) residing above a wide spectrum of working and middle classes
.Under capitalism most of us are obliged to work for a living, and without strong trade unions and workers’ co-operatives we’re at the mercy of employers’ whims and desire for profit. Social Mobility is lower in the UK than elsewhere in Europe.
You can today be born into a class and be more likely in future to die freezing on the streets as compared to your chances of going to the kind of university that will propel you forward.
While accent, dress and name can still reveal so much about who you are in Britain.
So often, someone’s address tells you a great deal about who they are: your postcode is the unhidden part of your wealth.
Like a lot of political issues, money is a big factor.‘
Private education legitimates inequality.
Private education accounts for 7% of the school age population but that tiny minority have huge disproportionate power; 42% of Oxford University undergraduates are privately educated, 37% of Cambridge and Durham, 35.6% of St. Andrews and 33.6% of Edinburgh. This feeds into Britain’s elites: 74% of judges, 71% of barristers and 71% of senior military figures are privately educated, privilege, elite arrogance and the grotesque inequalities which disfigure the UK.
The British political class at Westminster have a disproportionate number of privately educated MPs
Addressing this and putting it into reverse is going to require political leadership, public pressure, and taking on vested interests is going to require a written constitution.
Being prepared to do so will decide not only the future of not only the UK society, but ultimately, of Scotland and Wales not to mention Northern Ireland which will in the not so distant future will have no option but to be repatriated to the rest of Ireland.
In the mean time the powerful vision of England – of the countryside, rural traditions, and a romantic version of the past – has become associated with the politics of reaction.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin