State of the Nation Part Two Nepotism in the UK
Posted on March 1st, 2018

By Padraig Colman Courtesy Ceylon Today

Last week, I wrote about my personal impressions of London and the UK on my first visit for over eleven years. Two RLFs (Real Life Friends) commented. One said he was sick of hearing about Brexit. I had not mentioned Brexit in the article – most of the problems I observed go back many decades but will no doubt be exacerbated by Brexit.

The second RLF said he loved the cosmopolitan atmosphere of London. So do I. He thought that foreigners were attracted to Britain and London in particular, because “there is little nepotism here.” I will discuss Sri Lankan nepotism with him separately. My Sri Lankan readers do not need me to tell them about it.

Inequality and Lack of Social Mobility

Among the 100 largest UK companies, the average CEO received 300 times the minimum wage. The Spirit Level is a book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, published in 2009. The book argues that there are “pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption.”The engine of the neo-liberal system is widespread discrimination, and inequalities of class and geographical location. Globalization so far has ensured that cheaper labour can always be found somewhere else. Some entrepreneurs have been cynical enough to claim that discrimination makes perfect business sense and should be acknowledged as such. From this perspective, removing inequalities would bring this very profitable system (for a few) to collapse.

Nepotism

My RLF has a somewhat Panglossian view of UK society. Nepotism of an insidious nature is rife in Britain – it does not necessarily have to involve uncles and nephews. There is a vast, intricate Masonic web of connections and influence.

A third of UK MPs went to fee-paying private schools (compared with the national average of about 7 per cent). Among Conservatives, 52 per cent attended private schools. Nearly, a quarter of MPs went to Oxbridge. People from the richest fifth of neighbourhoods are still nine times more likely to go to the top universities than those from the poorest fifth, according to the Sutton Trust, a charity established to improve social mobility.

At Oxford, former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was a member of the Bullingdon Club, noted for its wealthy members, grand banquets, boisterous rituals and destructive behaviour, such as the vandalising of restaurants and students’ rooms. Its ostentatious display of wealth attracts controversy, since many ex-members have moved up to high political posts, most notably former British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Revolving Door

The movement of senior civil servants and government ministers into business roles is, in theory, overseen by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). In every single issue of the satirical magazine Private Eye, ACOBA’s toothlessness is exposed. Senior civil servants at the Ministry of Defence routinely retire to move to lucrative “consultancies” (selling weapons to dictators) with arms manufacturers. Patricia Hewitt and Alan Milburn, former Labour health ministers and guardians of the National Health Service under Blair, now get handsome salaries from private health companies. At the Department of Work and Pensions, Michael Hewson led the team responsible for the assessment of claims for PIP (Personal Independence Payments). He now works for ATOS, one of the private companies carrying out the assessment of PIP claims.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was responsible for setting the tax policies that allowed the tax dodgers who featured in the Paradise Papers to say “we fully comply with UK law”. He was also responsible for the austerity policies that made so many people who were not rich suffer.

Even before leaving Government, Osborne was raking in dirty money. He was paid £650,000 a year for one day’s work a week for fund manager BlackRock. BlackRock is a major player in the pensions industry and has benefited from the policies of Osborne the Chancellor. BlackRock has more than £2 billion worth of shares in the money-laundering. Osborne showed his contempt for ACOBA by taking up his new job as editor of the Evening Standard without waiting for a finding. He has previous on this because he did not consult ACOBA before taking a post with Northern Powerhouse.

It is certainly true in Britain today that you are more likely to become and remain rich and powerful if you have rich and powerful friends.

One Response to “State of the Nation Part Two Nepotism in the UK”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Many people in the party who are in business are concerned about BREXIT.

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