Saturday 26 October 2019

Discrimination, the defining issue of our times


When I was at university, before the last ice age, the fight against unfairness and discrimination was considered extremely important, but this is much more the case now. 

In the absence of any other moral imperative, now that Christianity is receding fast from the public space and the Cold War has been won, opposing discrimination has to fill the need that every society has for an overarching sense of purpose and the need everyone has for redemption and salvation. 

Every day in the papers are hundreds of stories on this theme.

Britain, or England as she used inaccurately to be called, has a conservative government, albeit a tottering one, and conservatives used to want society to evolve organically, by
the decisions of millions of individuals. That was in the past (pre-Tony Blair). The British government now, like all European governments, believes in social engineering to create an egalitarian society.

Here is one story taken almost at random from the front page of today's Daily Telegraph, which also brings in the two other overarching but not much discussed themes of our times, mass immigration and differential birthrates. 

It's a story about the latest edition of the Good School Guide, a publication which claims to be 'written for parents by parents', which says that giving children places at comprehensive schools because they show an aptitude for music is discriminatory.

'Demand for [secondary school places] places has sharply increased following a rise in birth rates. Secondary pupil numbers are expected to rise by 14.7 per cent in the next 10 years, meaning there will be another 418,000 children in secondary schools by 2027, according to Department for Education’s latest projections.

'The hike is fuelled by a baby boom in the early 2000s, as well as a high birth rate among women from immigrant communities. The bulge in the population of children has been making its way through the school system, passing up from primary to secondaries.

Ms Coatman explained: “Setting aside time to research options and work out the likelihood of a successful application, not to mention fathoming the further obligations and paperwork as required by some schools, is labour intensive and no doubt favours certain sections of society.”

'She said that she has come across schools with “fiendishly complicated” admissions policies, which could include having places reserved for children who show “aptitude” for subjects such as music or languages.

Some schools give priority to children from “feeder” primary schools, while others use complex “banding” systems to control intakes from different socio-economic groups.

'“In an ideal world, there would be one common, national set of over-subscription criteria for all community schools, free schools and academies, with another simple set for all kinds of faith schools,” she said.

'“That would save harassed parents from tearing their hair out and prevent schools that have their sights focused on their league table position from exploiting the lax way in which discriminatory policies are policed.”'

Here is another news item about a piece of academic research from Yale university that suggests that people of higher social class get offered better jobs than people of lower social class. Complete absence of discrimination will always be unobtainable, like socialism in Communist countries.

Academic research is one of the staples of the news cycle and, as academia is dominated by egalitarians, liberals and internationalists, so is the news - and so therefore is politics.

A song from Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe comes into my mind.

Hearts just as pure and fair
May beat in Belgrave Square
As in the lowly air 
Of Seven Dials!

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