It is not surprising that in a country where women and people from ethnic minorities have for so long been under-represented in the political arena, today so much is made of the fact that, for the very first time , none of the four most important positions in government are held by white men.
That we want to celebrate this evolution is perfectly legitimate. But let’s face it. On another, equally important level, England’s diversity policy is regressing rather than progressing.
Gender and ethnicity matter, of course. But so does social class. And, in this case, the new government and the House of Commons are absolutely not representative of the country they are responsible for administering.
Consider the three Tories celebrated as exemplars of diversity: James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Finance Minister. All are from private schools – the last from Eton, whose tuition costs amount to more than €50,000 per pupil per year and on whose benches the distinguished predecessors of Liz Truss, David Cameron, also passed and Boris Johnson.
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And they are not alone. More than two-thirds of the new Truss cabinet were privately educated, which is not even the case for 10% of the UK population. Half of the Conservative MPs are also concerned.
Interestingly, Truss herself, like the other women who made it to prime minister – Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May – came from a public education, although like them she went on to studied at the elite University of Oxford. However, she has dealt a terrible blow to socio-economic diversity by appointing a cabinet which not only has more privately educated members than those of Cameron and Johnson, but even twice as many as those who made up the cabinet. by Theresa May.
And it’s not just a matter of school, even if, in the United Kingdom, it is a good indicator of social background. Nor is it a problem that concerns only the current government or the Conservative party. This is actually part of a broader dynamic which is that of the virtual disappearance of the working classes from political representation on a national scale.
For the first time, the Parliament elected in 2019 did not include a single MP who had exercised a manual profession before entering the House of Commons. This is a consequence of the fact that politics in the UK increasingly tends to be seen as a profession exclusively, if not primarily, reserved for university graduates.
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