Another reason why politics is getting posher

In recent days there has been much talk of Andrew Neil’s interesting ‘Posh and Posher: Why Public School Boys Run Britain’ documentary for the BBC. Neil’s main point seemed to be that the removal of the meritocratic Grammer school system has prevented intelligent working class/lower middle class people competing with those who received a public or private school education. There is then a fast stream for those more privileged individuals from public school, to PPE at Oxford, to being a researcher, a SpAd, and eventually an MP or even a minister. The numbers make this a hard thesis to dispute, however, VN thinks Neil only scratched the surface of the issue.

 

It is generally agreed that beyond a having a certain level of articulacy and intelligence, the best way to give a political career momentum is getting into the Westminster Village and  networking. This is normally done initially as an intern. Unpaid. For months at a time. Clearly only people based in London and/or with parents able to support them financially will be able to get directly involved in the heart of our political system.

 

Furthermore, people expect almost everything in politics to be done for free, and not just leaflet delivery, but tasks that actually involve a high level of skill and responsibility. This includes the running of youth parties, acting as local press officers, online campaigning, the running of local parties, and more interns in local parties too. Not only does this reduce the calibre of people involved in politics, as  talented people don’t need to be taken advantage of for free when they could be in the private sector, but it clearly reduces the type of people that can give up significant periods of time to be actively involved in politics.

 

It won’t be a popular sentiment, but the only way to stop politics getting posher and more elitist is to put more money into it. Put an end to unpaid internships, and stop demanding huge amounts of responsibility and time from volunteers. Politics is not a charity, and while people will always volunteer for a cause they believe in, political parities and campaigning organisations should not be built on a model of free labour. If we change this, it will mean that people who are talented and dedicated can enter into the political world, whatever socio-economic background they are from, and our politics might just stop getting posher.

 

 

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One Comment to “Another reason why politics is getting posher”

  1. So presumably you are not too keen on the whole Big Society idea then?
    I would agree with you on internships, but not that people who want to make a difference are only stopped because they can get paid doing something else. The truly motivated will find a way.

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