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Andrew Lilico: Nick Clegg is wrong on internships

Social mobility is too low in this country, and has become lower.  But stopping people from using family connections to obtain internships is not the way to go about improving it.  The Evening Standard suggests that the problem with Mr Clegg's concept is that it would be impossible to police.  I say it would be undesirable if it could be policed.  It is a good thing that families use connections to obtain internship opportunities, not a bad thing.

Mr Clegg is reported by the BBC as telling them:

"They should get an internship because of what they know...It's not just because of someone who's met somebody at the tennis club or the golf club, who's whispered something into someone's ear and they've got an internship for their son or daughter."

But what they know is nothing.  They aren't getting the internship because they deserve it, because they will make some contribution to the company concerned through their work.  Work experience is an act of charity by the company.  It creates opportunities for young people to gain experience.  In the absence of doing someone a favour, such internships would often simply not exist at all - total opportunity would be diminished.

And why shouldn't people do someone a favour to create an opportunity for a young person to gain experience?  Why shouldn't parents try to help their children gain such experience?  If the parents own their own businesses, are we proposing to frown upon their giving their children the chance to learn within them?  So why if, instead of owning a business, they are professional people with connections, is that any different?

The truth is that it is right and proper that loving parents try to gain opportunities for their children.  That isn't a bad thing, and the promotion of social mobility should not be framed in terms of dragging down the children that are loved.


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