As I am a panel member, I received an e-mail from the ‘Today’ team asking if I wished to take part in a ‘Social Mobility’ survey. Now I don’t normally ‘click’ on these things, but since I had agreed to join, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I foundered within the first few questions, mainly due to the selections available to my mouse for "Main Wage Earner". The selection possibilities seem varied and inclusive on first viewing, but when one looks further in to the window, the realisation occurs that this is a very strange selection indeed. From ‘carpenter’ through ‘captain’ to ‘curate’, from ‘foreman’ through ‘Field Marshall’ to ‘Fund Manager’ and on from ‘Park Keeper’ through ‘Parliamentarian’ to ‘plumber’.
The survey is supposed to illustrate the lack of ‘Social Mobility’ in Britain today, which was illustrated with John Humphries interviewing some young men outside a Port Talbot pub in the afternoon, presumably because they were unemployed, and asking them if they were content with their lot, and also if they were happy for their children’s future. Problem is, if the viewpoint in the eyes of the people who built the survey is already opaque, what does that say for the outcome of the survey. The lack of modern employment possibilities given within the survey, with no mention of the vast swing of electronics, of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering jobs, with a single mention of an "agricultural worker with extra responsibility as herdsman", but no mention of any of the divisions within farming, or indeed a farmer, gives the clue as to the thought process which drives these people.
They don’t know how water is cleansed or treated, they have no clue about how bridges are built or how roads are laid; they don’t want to know of the multi-faceted tasks such as ship or yacht-building which make up our industrial heritage! I realise that all occupations cannot be included in such a survey, but they didn’t even make allowances for some of the basic tasks of life!
I recently had some building work done on my house, and I deliberately chose the guy who did not supply the cheapest quotation. I chose him because he knew to include for all the extras, allowed for all the possible pitfalls and thought the job through before he priced it! The people who built the survey, the LSE (who else?) and the Sutton Trust didn’t even look beyond the limits of their own blinkered imagination, and if we are served poorly by the ones who attempt to shape our children’s future, we seem to be poorly served by all!