« Gordon Brown | Main | New Labour leadership team find solution to party funding problem »


We just need patience on Europe.

David Cameron will raise the issue in the Commons against Blair later.

That is the right time to do so.

that education policy focused on the many and not the few. Words of Labour Manifesto 1997.....looks like we shall simply have to give Labour more time under Brown to implement.

Changing horses midstream speaking against electing a Conservative Government so it looks like we really don't need the Conservative Party any longer.....Labour has all the answers

If a the Irish electorate deserve a referendum, why don't we? Perhaps we need to copy 90% of the Irish constitution?

If Cameron doesn't get us a referendum then I'm afraid there is no point in having elections any more. If the same people are going to be elected whichever party you vote for what's the point?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I bow to no one in my adamant Euroscepticism but the Conservative Party lost votes, even from people who shared our outlook on Europe, because we appeared monomaniacly obsessed with the issue.

DC will be addressing the issue fully in the House of Commons this afternoon. What kind of signal would it have sent out had he brought it up, out of the blue, during an interview on a completely different topic - "Yes, yes. I know social mobility is important but the issue I REALLY want to talk about this morning is Europe!"

I agree with common sense!

A skilled interviewee can raise any topic they want to, Common Sense. The second half of the interview turned to Gordon Brown and it was an obvious opportunity for Cameron to say...

"You ask about Gordon Brown, John, and yesterday Mr Brown promised a new era for politics. But he has not got off to a good start. At the last election, when he toured the country with Tony Blair, he promised that we would have a referendum on the EU Constitution. The Treaty agreed last week contains 90% of the things that the Constitution included and Brown is now saying the British people don't deserve a referendum. Don't take that 90% figure from me. That's the view of the Irish Prime Minister. Gordon Brown's position is not acceptable. People won't be able to trust Gordon Brown if he denies the British people their say on what would mean the loss of forty British vetoes..."

Open Europe basically agrees with the Irish Premier... A damning analysis by the Open Europe team.

Cameron must win today and win well. If he cant do it then weve got a serious problem.

I thought Dave sounded weak about social mobility on the Today Programme. All he could talk about was his faith in City Academies. Lampl had earlier said there needed to be 'needs-blind' state funding of places in independent schools. I don't agree with that as stated, but really it's more or less the reintroduction of grammar schools.

Vouchers and free-competition between state and private schools is the way forward for social mobility and quality education. Unfortunately Dave is now stranded like a whale up the Thames.

I also agree with CommonSense and share his Euroscepticism.

Cameron has been full-throated in calls for a referendum, and the Tory cry for one is (for example) heavily featured in the Mail today as it was in all the Sunday's yesterday.

Have no fear, Cameron will bring it up again. But he can also be strong on social responsibility and mobility. We can walk and chew gum!

"We can walk and chew gum!"

A new interpretation of the And Theory!

Thanks Tory T!!

I agree that social mobility in particular education are the most important thing because if people are ignorant they won't be able to hold their politicians to account. But the EU referendum is urgent - if we don't have one then it will be too late to turn back if we want to later.

Editor, David Cameron could have shifted the interview to Europe and Gordon Brown but, as he did so, he'd have been saying that those subjects are more important to him than social mobility.

David Cameron would do well to use your quote, but not in a discussion about social mobility. I'm sure there'll be better opportunities...

Yesterday on Sunday AM Kenneth Clarke spoke out forcefully against having a referendum.
This is in direct contradiction to Party policy.

Clearly he will now be fired by Cameron - just as Graham Brady was for defending grammar schools.

Every journalist and activist listens to Today. Cameron should have put the referendum and Brown's evasiveness on the whole day's agenda. A missed opportunity indeed.

I have to agree with Common Sense on this issue, we have been and will continue to be vocal on our demands for a referendum. As I posted a couple of days ago, I hope that CCHQ have a cunning plan to highlight the clunking fists attempt to close down debate and democracy over this.
But we need to be canny in our approach, we have to be more subtle and use this issue in the wider context of showing Brown's Stalinist tendencies and lack of courage in all aspects of his tenure as Labour leader and PM.
We want to win this argument, and to do that we need to have the support of the voters. Damaging headlines on obsession with Europe and splits in the party approach won't just lose us support for a referendum, but also for a GE victory which in the end is the only way we will be able to have exert real influence on our relationship with the EU.

I didnt listen to the Today programme...it is pretty early.

CommonSense and a few other posters seem to be on the same identical message. I wonder where that message is coming from?

How do they knoiw what David Cameron is going to do unless they have been primed?

I sometimes suspect that some bloggers are working for Central Office.

I also agree with Common Sense but I do hope Hague is unrelenting in his quest to obtain a referendum. I really do want Shadow Cabinet ministers to come to the fore in the next few months and make themselves better known before the next election. At the moment every Conservative party initative seems to come from DC and I think that's a tactical mistake.

I agree with Common Sense, too

Raising Europe in the middle of an interview on social mobility would have been -- and looked -- bonkers

That said, I hope that David Cameron uses every sensible opportunity to make the case for a referendum

I hope he also comes up with something useful to say on social mobility because, unfortunately, he was rubbish this morning

Personally I never pass up an opportunity to mention Europe as I was telling my proctologist the other day

Kenneth Clarke is clearly in the wrong party. In fact he shouldn't be in Parliament at all, as he's not a fit person. During the Tory leadership contest he pretended that the EU Constitution was dead and so "Europe" was no longer an issue, and it need not be an obstacle to him taking control of the Tory party. Now he wants all the MPs, not just the Labour MPs but all the MPs including the Tory MPs, to renege on their manifesto promises about a referendum on the EU Constitution, which lo and behold, what a surprise, is not dead after all. And this is the man who was put in charge of a Democracy Taskforce, and who claims that he wants to strengthen Parliament! How would he do that? By telling MPs to break their word and betray their constituents, so that another tranche of decisions can be moved away from Parliament to the EU? Why is Cameron tolerating this?

It would not have been wise to bring up Europe in a discussion of social mobility. However, Cameron's thin gruel of City Academies is not going to do much to solve that particular problem. Parroting Labour's mantra about the many not the few simply shows how limited his ideas are. At least Lampl managed to talk about needs-blind admission to independent schools, something which the Tories are too scared to even contemplate and which Labour will never contemplate at all unless they can quasi-nationalise the independent schools in the process.

Surely even pro-EUropeans can see the benefit of a referendum? It would put the "project" on a democratic footing as entering the EEC in the first place did after the referendum in 1975. A referendum wouldn't necessarily result in a "no" if the arguments for integration (whatever they are) were made well.

Possibly the reason so many agree with Common Sense is that she is talking common sense. But of course a conspiracy theorist might disagree.

The problem is that the Conservative Party has never really told the public what is really going on in the EU.

I know they had those stupid mantras "In Europe not ruled by Europe" and 24 hours to save the £". That was ridiculous, but what the public need to hear is how what the EU does affects them in their everyday lives, "Elf & Safety", why we are unable to do much about Eastern Europeans coming here to do jobs which they should be doing. Cameron should be telling people that we no longer control our own borders.

He should be telling them that the reason that the Post Offices are having to close is because under the Amsterdam Treaty, Article 88, our Govt have to seek permission to "State Aid" the Post Office, and they were graciously allowed to do this to the sum of "£150m annually(max), for 3 years.

He should tell them that since the 1st May to date, we have had 216 laws imposed on us by the EU which will have an impact on them and this country.

If people were told the truth they would realise that Westminster is no longer in charge of this country, we are being run from Brussels.

The decline in social mobility (see for example the percentage of Eton graduates in the Shadow Cabinet down to the 80s up since...)is almost entirely due to the end of Grammar Schools. Will Cameron learn the lesson?

David Cameron should be dignified and statesmanlike about the referendum on the Constitution. No one believes Blair and Bown that their four red lines were sufficient. It is good that Brown and Blair are digging themselves in on this first, so that people are quite sure they mean it before the opposition campaign for a referendum is fully launched. What better place than Parliament? Who better than David Cameron?

Dennis Cooper is quite right. Ken Clarke's a naughty little boy and he needs his bottom smacked. We already have volunteers to carry out the task. Either that, or he should be sent to the Hall of Fame.

Nikki C

"How do they knoiw what David Cameron is going to do unless they have been primed?"

Personally, I read the papers to get my insider info.

It was David Cameron calling for a referendum in the Telegraph as the deal was being signed that first tipped me off. Then there were the "Tory demands for a referendum grow louder" stories in the Sunday Times, Telegraph and Mail on Sunday. And the Daily Mail follow-up story today.

I find the best inside briefing as to Cameron's thoughts on Europe usually comes from David Cameron! :)

"Social mobility" is one of those things like "equality of opportunity" and "meritocrisy" that we are all supposed to believe in. We might be in favour of the State tilting things a little more in their direction, but they are actually pretty unpleasant as absolute aims.

For one thing, they go completely against the principle of valuing a strong and stable family life as, by definition, people are going to start with unequal family backgrounds. So the only way to achieve unfettered social mobility, equality of opportunity and meritocracy would be to take all new born babies out of the hands of their parents and bring them up collectively in institutions. Such a utopia certainly has no place for some parents spending more money on their children than others, some houses having more books than others, for private education or anyone being allowed to inherit money. As for bringing up our children well - this should be forbidden as it might make them more likely to make more of their talents than a child brought up as a lout - and that wouldn't give that child of loutish parents equality of opportunity or, if his parents are uneducated and unemployed, a proper opportunity for social mobility, would it?

Have you ever noticed that no-one seems much in favour of social mobility in a downwards direction? What middle class parent believes that if one of their children does not happen to be blessed with their brains that he or she should be poor and in a mindless job? No, it is natural and correct human instinct that they will be all the keener to leave them a little more money or to cushion them in some other way, so they land up in a better position that the average person with their amount of brainpower. What professional grammar school University graduate, who benefited from upwards social mobility compared with (say) his manual labourer parents, would applaud his or her own children returning to manual labour if they did not happen to share their parents' brainpower?

No, all these things are palliatives, not absolute objectives in themselves. We want a bit more of them but they are not like "wisdom", "virtue" or "happiness" are they?

Cameron seems to have found time to talk about the NHS, which is hardly connected with 'social mobility'

OTOH (I didnt hear the programme) it sounds as if neither the interviewer nor (no surprise) Cameron raised the report of the Economic Research Council which has called for more Grammar Schools and low=cost private schools to raise 'dire' educational standards.

Nor does he appear to have discussed the Telegraph's story 'Cameron faces revolt on house building' which would seem to be more relevant than the NHS.

I'll reserve judgment as to whether he should have raised the EU this morning. If depends on how much of a fist he makes of the referendum demand, as the situation unfolds.

A refreshingly intelligent post by Londoner above.

But unfortunately any realistic (not to say 'conservative') view of the egalitarianism from which these buzzwords spring is likely to be crushed by militant political correctness.

These days even to suggest that human inequalities are a fact of nature is to invite not just ridicule but actual persecution.

Thanks, Trad Tory. I agree that what I have posted might not be practical politics for a leading politician to say - although suitably nuanced one might get away with some of it. Cameron might well be shrewd to be emphasising social mobility as he has. I just hope he doesn't really believe in it as an absolute value, that's all.

So the only way to achieve unfettered social mobility, equality of opportunity and meritocracy would be to take all new born babies out of the hands of their parents and bring them up collectively in institutions.

Sorry I think you are confusing equality of opportunity with equality of outcome.

Outcome will of course depend on background to a large extent, but to enable upward mobility people from all backgrounds must be given the opportunity to improve themselves through education. Of course there will be downward mobility as well if children of rich families don't achieve something for themselves and just spend the family silver.


Not sure I think those points are going to win over the electorate...

"unable to do much about Eastern Europeans coming here to do jobs which they should be doing" - is this because UK citizens can't actually be bothered with low-paid jobs? What happened to our support for free markets? If local workers can't or won't work, isn't it right to seek workers from further afield?

"Post Offices are having to close" - are we now in favour of State Aid?

"216 laws imposed on us by the EU" - sounds just as good as "24 hours to save the pound". No wonder people laugh at us.


is this because UK citizens can't actually be bothered with low-paid jobs

Get real. Many of these "McJobs" are below minimuum wage and run by gangmasters...they recruit in Polish or Portugese so it is rather hard for English-speakers to find out about illegal contracts.

Have you noticed there is no flood of Polish lawyers coming into the country, no flood of accountants; it is always for jobs in hotels, catering, food-processing, crop picking, cleaning, bar staff - where employing people without paying minimum wage or NIC is not unusual

So why not encourage more native-Britons to break the law ?

"Post Offices are having to close" - are we now in favour of State Aid?

How dim are you ?

The Post Office is a State Company with ONE Shareholder at the DTI.

Post Offices have always had state-funding - it is just that the Tories developed some madcap computer projects and when they were scrapped the whole project costs were booked by The Treasury to the Post Office and its Gilts Portfolio was stolen by The Treasury.

Ed - no, equality of outcome would only be achieved if you neutralised their genes too. My point is that family background (over and beyond just genes) gives people varying levels of opportunity. The only way to deny that would be totalitarianism. I do not deny the importance of making a good education available to all (or to as many as possible). But even that cannot be equal unless you abolish private schools and also actually probably abolish parental choice, as that can favour the children of parents who make wise choices.

On downward mobility - it happens, but people would prefer it happened a bit gently. "Unfettered" social mobility would need to ensure that the "family silver" were not passed down to be sold.

Social mobility gets a good press because there was a big shift in the mid to late 20th century from a society with a majority in manual labour to a majority in middle class occupations. That provided lots of opportunity for capable people to move up. If it's a zero sum game it's much less attractive. So continued social mobility, in the 20th century positive manner, probably requires further technological shifts in demand for more skilled (and therefore higher paid) labour but there is a limit if we are still to have cleaners, refuse collectors, shop assistants etc. Immigration of unskilled workers may be one way to keep it going but if that continues indefinitely on too large a scale it brings its own undesirable tensions.

What happened to our support for free markets?

Yes indeed - Free Markets do NOT have race relations laws, nor gender equality laws, nor maternity leave, nor sick pay, nor pensions, nor health cover, nor job security, nor do they have wage differentials because in Fre markets they are competed away by competition

On downward mobility - it happens,

Clogs to clogs in three generations

there is a limit if we are still to have cleaners, refuse collectors, shop assistants etc.

Exactly. I think that politicians, including some of our own these days, are coming close to Huey Long's slogan 'Every man a millionaire!'

The harsh lesson of life is that all people cannot be rich and successful. We can provide a safety net for those that need it but to suggest that all can succeed is simply grotesque.

Atta girl (Torygirl), and nice point Frank McGarry. I find it amusing if sadly inevitable that the leadership will twist themselves into pretzels in order not to look "obsessed" with Europe - likely ceding ground on the entire issue and insuring there is no effective party voice in favour of a referendum.

Am I "obsessed" with Europe? Damn right. What self-respecting conservative wouldn't be? If we genuinely believe in ourselves and the truth of wat we espouse, then it's nothing short of a deceit on ourselves and the electorate not to promulgate these views. Moderation in the pursuit of truth is no virtue.

Go on David, make me eat my hat.

TomTom - quite. The intelligent child of two below average intelligence parents is still carrying the less intelligent genes, and genetic make-up often reverts to the mean. Also, if you are talking of the very rich, usually you have to be a bit cute to hold on to it even if you don't have to work to.

It would make interesting research to trace the descendents of persons from families which were in relatively high social positions some centuries ago, and see how many of them had fallen to really poor manual occupations. Being able to trace my family to minor gentry/successful trade etc in Elizabethan times, I do not see it as a total coincidence that we remain reasonably well-to-do today. It actually makes for a degree of humility - I am under no illusion that whatever I earn etc has been achieved by me alone. There is nothing worse than a person in a senior position who thinks he got there entirely by his own "merit".

Londoner, no Tory is proposing equality of OUTCOME that is the point. Equality of outcome is the ultimate socialist goal - and can only every be achieved by levelling downwards.

Cameron is espousing equality of OPPORTUNITY which means that people have access to good education whatever their background. How you achieve this is wide open to debate.

ps I don't think it's impossible to provide every child with a decent education. Perhaps not an exactly equal education but close enough.

"How you achieve this is wide open to debate."

Just so long as that debate doesn't include the use of grammar schools to improve social mobility, for as we know from groovy Dave: those defending them are delusional, i.e. not worth listening to.

"It would make interesting research to trace the descendents of persons from families which were in relatively high social positions some centuries ago..."

Londoner, you haven't also figured into your equation the ambition of an individual - as separate from intelligence - having a very great outcome on their financial status. There are plenty of intelligent children, who happen to have little or no ambition as adults - thus greatly reducing their earning power. Conversely, there are very limited individuals who, through ambition alone, have achieved great wealth and status.

David Cameron needs to be careful.

He has just had a senior member of the party, one of his taskforce leader on democracy, publicly contradict his stance on Europe and he publicly says nothing about this disloyalty.

His two senior Shadow Ministers receive considerably more air time on TV than he does. Some are beginning to ask who is leading the party really?

He needs to change his approach else people will believe Labour's accusations that he is weak.

Apart from the obvious, and very important, constitutional issues, I would like to see more attention paid to the French coup in deleting as one of the goals of the EU to offer its citizens "an internal market where competition is free and undistorted", while inserting in a separate clause the much weaker statement that “the Union shall establish a single market”. (Wolfgang Munchau's comment on the FT website, Europe's Drift towards Mercantilism, is on point, and less Europhile than most FT articles).

One might hope that the Conservative party leadership would stand up for free trade.

How do you keep a man from drowning?

Take your foot of his head!


Government cannot ensure equal outcomes or equal opportunity. What it can do, provided it realises the importance of social mobility, is:

1. ensure that everyone has equal access to state services,
2. ensure that state services are of a high quality,
3. and ensure that government policies don’t cause social stagnation as a side effect.

Cameron is espousing equality of OPPORTUNITY which means that people have access to good education whatever their background. How you achieve this is wide open to debate.

Yes but it is an obvious and blatant falsehood. Few of us could ever have enjoyed the advantage of going to Eton, and (barring a few 'scholarship boys') few children from council estates could have enjoyed the advantage of attending my rather less prestigious public school.

In order to achieve a measure of educational 'equality of opportunity' you would have to force all parents to send their children to identikit comprehensive schools. Even then, some pupils would return to ill-favoured and even violent homes where their continuing education would suffer severe disruption.

Enough of these socialistic platitudes. Conservatives need to 'embrace' (ha!) the inevitable fact of inequality, which includes inequality of opportunity.

The alternative is tyranny.

Social Mobility has stagnated. This week John Humphrys explores the reasons behind this apparent trend.

Learn more and take part in our survey.


If you didn't hear this on the Today programme this morning, it is worth listening to. Cameron needs to listen too.

John Humphreys on the Sandfield Estate in Port Talbot.

Teenagers on drink, drugs and the economically inactive. They don't want to work, plenty of work but too many immigrants coming in. "Sign here Dai and you won't have to work, you can have a car on mobility". Life on welfare is just another career option for today's youngsters.

This is a programme which will go on all week and tomorrow John Humphreys is going to examine whether it is the fault of the politicians.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker