About the only thing I remember John Major saying was about how he wanted to build a ‘classless society’ (apart from his off the record comments about ‘bastards’ in his team). I remember thinking this was funny rhetoric for a Tory. To me, Toryism is inextricably bound up with maintaining the class divides in this country. I also niaively believed that Labour were instinctively against perpetuating the class divide in our country.So how bizarre is the place we are at today when we witness a Labour, a Labour, government which still hands out peerages as rewards for rich sycophants and passes an education bill that promotes two-tier education with Tory support?
I am clear in my vision of modern democratic society. We must strive for fairness and equal opportunity at every turn. There is no place for anyone to be proposing, approving, rejecting or revising legislation who has not been democratically chosen by the people to do so. The House of Lords is an affront to a decent democracy. The solution is simple: not another single person should be appointed to sit in that house until they have been elected. I actually believe that it is staggeringly simple to achieve. We simply decide how many peers we want, and then hold periodic elections for those seats that have been vacated by death, resignation or disqualification. Candidates need a significant number of nominations, and may be identified with political parties or independent. Once elected, you are effectively a ‘life peer’. This maintains the independence of the Upper House and prevents it being packed out with peers from one party during a Commons landslide.
On education, I am speechless that nothing is being done to tackle the current unfairnesses that we are inflicting on our children. Today, those whose parents have money or influence are still likely to end up in the best-performing schools. Until we accept that this is not good enough, we will continue to fail our children. Every child deserves the same educational opportunities. Turning education into a marketplace condemns some children to second-class schooling. Any school which does not welcome all pupils equally has no place in a fair and just society. Academic and economic selection are dangerously intertwined. Any school which is funded by the taxpayer must serve the whole community, and not be allowed to cherry-pick it’s pupils. Any education bill which does not seek to address such injustices is a recipe for failure, and it will be less fortunate children who pay the price.