Nick Clegg: Boris Johnson’s views on social mobility are ‘unpleasant, careless elitism’

He said: “I have to say these comments reveal a fairly unpleasant, careless elitism that somehow suggests that we should give up on a whole swathe of our fellow citizens.”

Mr Johnson said some people would always find it easier to get ahead than others arguing that IQ tests are relevant to “a conversation about equality.” He said, in the speech to the Centre for Policy Studies “many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130.”

However Mr Clegg said this amounted to Mr Johnson treating people like a “breed of dogs.”

He added: “I think the danger is if you start taking such a deterministic view of people and start saying they’ve got a number attached to them, in this case an IQ number, somehow they’re not really going to rise to the top of the cornflake packet, that is complete anathema to everything I’ve always stood for in politics.

“There are people, certainly young people, who develop at different paces, who might discover talents they didn’t know about before and our job, surely, in politics is not to simply say, look, we’re going to hive off one bunch of people and put them in one kind of category, and kind of basically say they’re parked and there’s not much we can do about them”.

In his speech Mr Johnson also repeated warnings against persecuting the rich, saying that wealth and success should be celebrated.

None the less, he suggested that the gap between rich and poor had grown too wide and more must be done to ensure that talented people from less wealthy backgrounds can “rise to the top”.

Mr Johnson said: “I worry that there are too many cornflakes who aren’t being given a good enough chance to rustle and hustle their way to the top.”

3 thoughts on “Nick Clegg: Boris Johnson’s views on social mobility are ‘unpleasant, careless elitism’”

  1. There is major problem with unrealistic expectations. in the past dim people might work on a farm, on a production line or coal mine and rent a tiny house, and perhaps marry and have a pint on Fridays and a week in Blackpool for the lucky ones, There was little credit just some regulated hire purchase Society allowed these people a useful role which gave them social satisfaction.And allowed people to realise their modest goals. Now there are no steady jobs no houses, coupled with unrealistic expectations in a bling celeb culture.

    What’s left for these poor people? so they have to become Liberal politicians The explosion of credit and Social Security has allowed the cracks to be papered over

  2. In view of the current distorted fuss over your Thatcher speech – can I congratulate you for publicly acknowledging that humans differ in their abilities, and suggest that we formally ditch the EQUALITY concept/goal – as it is a fundamental nonsense. I suggest we replace it with PROPORTIONALITY – which is a concept all humans naturally understand.

    I refer you to a TED Talk
    Jonathan Haidt:
    The moral roots of liberals and conservatives

    And for the research behind these evolved moral matrix ideas (including proportionality and the need to stigmatize freeloaders) – his book, ‘The Righteous Mind’

    This research has been the key that has enabled me to –
    understand and decisively reject the
    morally reductive and systemically denuded ‘left’,
    and unreservedly embrace
    the holistic moral matrix of the ‘right’

    (actually I would argue that ‘left’ and ‘right’ are no longer useful or valid categories – they don’t satisfy the essential criteria for meaningful categories, and the false distinction encourages a them-and-us perceptual distortion which has been hugely damaging to our social capital. We now face competition from cultures with far greater social cohesion than our own. We should be moving away from them-and-us and towards deliberately holistic-systemic and integrated notions such as – ‘a healthy hive composed of thriving stimulated individuals’.)

    I suggest the ‘right’ should openly embrace these evolved-moral-matrix ideas, because they clearly articulate inner truths, that we have all been feeling, but were told by the left, that it was not acceptable to express, or even acknowledge.

    These ideas will liberate, motivate and unify many good people, who like me – felt we should support the basic but incomplete moral matrix of the left – but who simultaneously felt disgusted by its group-think, its thought control, its deliberate denial and distortion of reality, its flawed understanding and dislike of human nature, its historical ignorance and distortion, its lack of systemic awareness in general, in particular its blindness to the effects its policies were having on the health of the community as a whole, its abuse of democracy – borrowing funny money (to be paid back with real earned money) and using it to buy votes through public sector employment, benefit dependency, and unsustainable consumption, when it should have been used for productive and life enhancing investment, its lack of respect for excellence, innovation, enterprise, evolution (variety, selection (which requires judgment) and replication), and its promotion of a primitive them-and-us, win-loose, hatred and envy, etc.

    People like me who were shocked and alienated by the PC/postmodern rejection of judgment and stigma, the refusal to deal with freeloaders-with-votes – and as a consequence, have withdrawn from civic engagement and cooperation – (Fehr and Gechter 2002 nature) – which has had a disastrous effect on our social capital.

    We must make judgments and learn from our mistakes, so I recommend a truth and reconciliation commission to look at the effects of group-think perceptual distortion and denial, and patterns of abuse-of-other-people’s-money in

    banking and finance
    local government
    public education
    big business

    When I worked in the public sector – it was a condition of my employment that I did not think these thoughts. I had to sign a statement that I supported The Equalities Policy. Powerful group-think pressures and the clear threat of pig-trough-excommunication prevented us from acknowledging or expressing the disgust we felt. You – our culture – should tell us that it is ok to feel disgust in the presence of policies and practices which will obviously lead to an increase in social entropy and a reduction in social capital. These moral feelings and sensitivities enabled our ancestors to create and maintain cohesive groups in challenging environments. They will serve us well too if we use them wisely.

    NB We must use these moral emotions wisely – because there are potentially serious downsides, and balances to be struck, but surely it is better to acknowledge and make wise use of these group-cohesion enabling moral sensibilities, in full awareness of their potential problems, than to throw out group cohesion all together, simply because it can have downsides.

    We need to harness, not suppress, our thinking and evolved moral feelings.

    John Evans

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