Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
A couple of things I've noted lately

Guardian - Carole Cadwalladr - Whatever the party, our political elite is an Oxbridge club

But the Oxbridge connection is more invidious than this and if it hasn't been considered worthy of comment during the leadership contest, it's in part because in Britain most people who do the commenting also went there. Oxbridge doesn't just dominate the Palace of Westminster but an entire political class. From the politicians and the special advisers to the political editors, pundits and thinktankees, there's a homogeneity of experience, of thinking, of networks, of power and of influence that has led to an in-crowd that doesn't even recognise it's an in-crowd. There's arguably more that unites our political elite than divides them. The last election was a battle between one Oxford PPE graduate (Cameron) and another Oxford PPE graduate (Miliband).

Of course, if you believe Oxford and Cambridge are simply our two finest universities, that they take the brightest and the best, and it's a matter of the natural order of things that their graduates should go on to govern us, none of this is a problem. But how can this be true? Just 7% of the population go to private schools and yet they take 44% of the places at Oxford, and 38% at Cambridge. What are we saying? That rich people are cleverer than the rest of us? That they're more able? That they deserve to rule?
(Though not many: between them, Eton and Westminster send almost twice as many students to Oxbridge as the whole of Wales.) But the problem with this is that it nurtures a dangerous myth: that we live in a meritocracy. It promotes the fallacy that Oxbridge is a means of channelling talent, rather than shoring up an iniquitous status quo. For those who get in, it's easy to believe we live in a country where hard work pays off.

But it simply doesn't. And Oxbridge is both a symbol and an enabler of that. Politicians and pundits have pat little phrases about "falling social mobility" and "increasing inequality", but this doesn't even touch what it feels like to be locked out. Almost an entire generation has been excluded from the life chances most occupants of the Palace of Westminster enjoy. Even within Labour, the Corbyn campaign noted this week, twice as many MPs went to a private school as come from a working-class background.

We've noted this before, but it mixes well with this

Scriptonite - Labour Rejected Me In The Purge, Then `Outed' Me In The Media As An `Infiltrator'

It is one thing disallowing registered supporters with a right-wing history, having gathered robust evidence that they are seeking to undermine the party. The case of conservative columnist Toby Young is one such example. But I would be against rejecting any new supporter, whatever their voting history (but especially social democrats) who seek to help build the party into a broad, popular, social democratic movement. By kicking out anyone who voted Green in 2015, they are basically barring the route back to Labour for disaffected social democrats.

Furthermore, if Labour don't win back these voters, they are sunk in 2020. Labour need to win an extra 106 seats in 2020 to gain a majority, an almost impossible task. But that almost impossible task becomes totally impossible without a mass, popular movement to reengage the public. Just 24% of people voted Conservative in the last election, 76% didn't. The largest gains went to socially democratic populists the SNP, who killed Labour in Scotland. The biggest losers were the Liberal Democrats, the only `centrist' party in town.

So why would the Parliamentary Labour Party NOT want to harness the power of a populist, social democratic movement? Especially when it is the only chance they have of regaining office in 2020.

It is becoming ever more clear that the Labour Party in Westminster has become a part of a permanent political class alongside their Tory and Liberal Democrat counterparts. Disengagement and voter apathy means a fairly stable job, a few seats lost and won either way each election and no big surprises. The chance to earn a great wage and pass policies which guarantee lucrative consultancy/director roles after politics. All done with the passive acceptance of a disaffected electorate, half of whom don't even bother to vote anymore. To this permanent political class, a popular movement based on social democratic values is about as welcome as a fart in an elevator.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 26th, 2015 at 05:05:34 PM EST

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