Our political class is sclerotic

It’s been pointed out time and time again. It’s not like it’s a new phenomenon. The education of our politicians is dominated by a small number of schools, universities, and courses. Having an Oxford PPE[1] puts someone in pole position. So, does attendance at Eton.

Yes, we are not the only society to exhibit such educational polarisation, but it’s deep rooted in the UK. Centuries of domination of select institutions are well documented. The UK is long in the tooth. One set of privileged people are often in the wings to replace another set of similar people.

Simple generalisations about this fact being bad are not so easy to sustain. On the list of those who were educated in this way have been some real reformers and progressive thinkers. Nevertheless, there are a significant number of dangers that come from such a narrow streaming.

Although the overarching heading of Philosophy, Politics and Economics contains a variety of options and differences, it’s been constructed as a machine in a factory for politicians. It’s a cooky cutter for a template Member of Parliament (MP). For a long, long time, local constituency party’s and a significant number of voters have taken it as read that this is the model for an MP.

An interesting question arises in the current chaotic political maelstrom. Is this phenomenon one of the roots of periodic failures and catastrophes in the UK?

Here’s several reasons why the suggestion can not be easily dismissed.

Narrow streaming is a great way to instil a “group think” in our governance. Thing is, I don’t think we (voters) need or want this to happen. The risks are self-evident. There’s a greater propensity to agreement on the wrong course of action. An example is the decision to go to war in Iraqi.

Linking “orthodoxy” and stability in the minds of the population may limit what can be done. This is a strange one in that politicians with a common background can be strongly motivated to be unconventional just for the sake of doing it. Maybe that’s what has just happened.

Diversity is not just a nice to have. Diversity brings strengths that are not available in a monoculture. It’s a good strategy to bring in new ideas. New thinking. Bring in people with a wide variety of different backgrounds and experiences.

Change is needed. The UK’s political class is sclerotic. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we just had a national heart attack.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/feb/23/ppe-oxford-university-degree-that-rules-britain

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