A report published today has again highlighted the deep-seated divisions in British society which are preventing wealthy aristocrats from getting a fair crack at menial and low-paid positions. Despite the Labour Government’s claims to have increased social mobility, the report found that it is proving harder than ever for the moneyed upper classes to break through the ‘glass floor’ into exclusive minimum-wage roles so long the preserve of the working classes.
‘What’s clear,’ said Alan Milburn today, former Health Secretary and author of the report, ‘is that there are countless people out there from privileged backgrounds who are more than capable of doing these jobs. All they need is a chance. We need to look closely at our society and accept that we will never be able to call ourselves a meritocracy until these people get the opportunities they deserve to sell double-glazing door-to-door or work in McDonalds.’
The report has received generous cross-party support, with many Conservatives welcoming its findings. ‘I’ve desperately wanted to be a bin-man all my life,’ said the Honourable Nicholas Soames MP today, ‘but what with one’s father being a Baron, Conservative politician and QC, one was prevented from mixing in the right circles. It’s all about who you know, and I just never got those opportunities at Eton. Sadly, like so many of my peer group, I drifted into becoming Equerry to HRH Prince Charles, then a stockbroker, before finally entering the House as an MP and later a Minister. It’s been tough, I won’t deny it.’
‘But the worst thing,’ he continued, ‘is having your nose rubbed in it all the time. Every day my maids and footmen are scrubbing and polishing away right in front of me, taunting me as I sit there in my study with a cigar and brandy and The Telegraph. It’s a constant reminder that if it hadn’t been for the private education and inherited wealth, that could have been me. And I know I would have had it in me.’
The report has been launched with an exchange scheme which sees Nicholas Soames MP trade places for a day with Jason Blewitt, a refuse collector from Leytonstone. However, although council staff reported that Nicholas Soames took to his role ‘like a pig in shit’, Jason’s struggle with the intricacies of life as an MP has highlighted how far we still have to go to break down class barriers. ‘It’s harder than it looks,’ said Jason today. ‘You don’t buy anything, right, but there’s all these forms and you’ve got to write out your own receipts. I’m just not cut out for this.’