Lewisham Council launches public consultation on spending

Lewisham Council has launched an online survey, asking residents to tell them which services they value most. The lowest-scoring services will be thrown out of the balloon.

The Mayor says:

Over the last three years, Lewisham Council has saved around £26 million by cutting waste and becoming more efficient. Over the next three years cuts in national Government funding are likely to mean that Lewisham Council will have to reduce its spending by around £60 million [nb. this figure was set by Lewisham Council before the last election].

We will continue to cut waste and do things more efficiently where we can. But if we are to balance our budget in the coming years, we will need to look at providing services differently and providing a different level of service in some areas.

I want you to have your say in how Lewisham Council can best face these challenges. I want to know:

- what council services you value most
- what you think the Council could do less of
- where you think you and your friends, family and neighbours could help each other more to improve your area.


The Council is also hosting an online forum where you can discuss the issues. We've not had a play with it yet, so we don't know how heavily moderated it is.

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is the Mayor a closet Cameroon?

"...where you think you and your friends, family and neighbours could help each other more to improve your area."

Interestingly when officers outlined their budgets and savings for this year 2010, the Children's department had spent an additional £900,000 before that budget was settled.

Locksmith said...

I think they could have some sort of universal lock on the Recycling bins,residents who have there bins on an open front garden get passers by at night chucking there old half eaten chip and kebab wrappers in,then the Council refuse to empty it.

Anonymous said...

Council surveys are a way the council use to make residents feel as if they have a valid opinion to which the council take notice of.

it's a token gesture and one which a very great deal of council money is spent on - and one which they ignore without hesitation.

To clarify, the mayor thinks of people who object to what he is doing as f**king idiots.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, I did think of using that choice quote myself ;)

lb said...

Actually, I think you'll find that rather than spending a large amount of money, an online survey is probably a very cheap (and easy) way of "ticking the boxes". That's why they do it.


"Things the Council could do less of" is a very odd way of phrasing it.

Name said...

i am not saying this to be facetious but I honestly think the mayoral dept doesn't help the borough as it should/could* so I would look to there first for budget cuts.

*i'd like to see a positive cost-benefit analysis to be proven wrong.

love detective said...

@lb - "'Things the Council could do less of' is a very odd way of phrasing it."

When you think of the ideological motivation that lies behind the surface level 'pragmatism' of cuts, it's probaly a fairly appropriate way of phrasing it

Miss Adelaide said...

Just did the survey, it is oddly phrased throughout but you do get to say eg how important libraries are, and at the end they just ask for general suggestions about cost cuts. So big chance for those of us driven mad at waste of money by that free local newspaper, dog poo stencils etc...

Monkeyboy said...

So long as those lookin at the results realise that the respondees are self selecting. The 85 year old who gets meals in wheels is not likely to respond. Windbags like us are.

Brockley Nick said...

yes, yes - whatever format you do consultations in, via whatever medium, the voice of the middle classes is always heard loudest, because they are better at it, which is why Blackeath Village is so beautifully maintained.

love detective said...

it's not because they are better at it per se nick, it's because they have far more of the social, cultural & economic capital that is required to be able to do stuff like that in the first place

Although I guess this is nothing more than a tautology

Brockley Nick said...

Isn't that the same thing?

They are better at it. They are more able, more motivated and have a better understanding of what buttons to push and how. Not that "the middle classes" (of which we two are members) need to apologise for that, it's just how it is.

And mostly, despite regular suggestions to the contrary, people all want the same kinds of things. Cleaner streets, better parks, lower crime, more local shops, better transport, fewer road deaths, better schools and hospitals, access to libraries.

That's why campaigns against "gentrification" are so unhelpful, because they would create areas with lower levels of local spending and activism.

Brockley Nick said...

Plus of course, said campaigns often exhibit inverted snobbery of the highest order.

lb said...

But gentrification ultimately drives (or prices) out those down the social ladder, so its benefits are ultimately only delivered to a minority. Secondly, "cleaner streets, better parks, lower crime, more local shops, better transport, fewer road deaths" are not necessarily a direct result of gentrification, or indeed of purely middle-class activism. I see nothing negative about wishing to curb gentrification's more divisive aspects.

Of course everyone has the same basic goals; the trick is to ensure that the goals that are achieved are of equal benefit to all groups.

lb said...

Anyway, dragging this back to the topic, I find also find the "where you think you and your friends, family and neighbours could help each other more to improve your area" deeply suspicious.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lb - four quick points:

1. Anti-gentrification campaigns are often highly-divisive, seeking to characture incoming people as aliens with no interest in their local area - greedy bankers, etc, etc. Language that would be deplored if it was applied to working class communities.

2. Didn't say these things were the direct result of middle class activism and spending, but it's an important contributory factor.

3. People being forced out of the area? If they're living in social housing or own their own home, they're not forced out. If they're in private rented accommodation, perhaps they can be priced out. Of course, most of the things that these campaigns oppose are new housing, which has no direct impact on the cost of other local housing.

4. It is clear that cuts are coming. If people can identify certain things that can be done by community groups, then it is surely worth asking the question.

Headhunter said...

There's a fair chunk of social housing all over Lewisham so whether or not property and rental prices rise, there will still be a large element of the salt of the earth classes...

westsider said...

There are plenty of middle class people who've been priced out of Brockley.

Headhunter said...

I'm a middle class person who was priced out of Islington. Perfectly happy that I was as I have since found my spiritual home in Brockley, but at the time it seemed a real wrench to have to move from islington back down to the SE again. I suppose I could have whinged about it on some Islington blog, about how the nasty upper middle classes and trustafarians have priced me out of my home...

love detective said...

@nick "Isn't that the same thing?"

If only i'd mentioned something about tautology in my post to highlight that very point

"They are better at it."

If I was able to make use of the fastest car in the world to set a land speed record i'd hold the record for fastest man (or woman) in the world - I don't so i'm not. It's not all about whether I am better at being the fastest person in the world than the next man (or woman)

"of which we two are members"

Difference being you were born into it

"And mostly, despite regular suggestions to the contrary, people all want the same kinds of things. Cleaner streets, better parks, lower crime, more local shops, better transport, fewer road deaths, better schools and hospitals, access to libraries."

There's a difference between wanting these things for everyone universally or wanting them for the specific area that you live in (see next point for the relevance of this)

"That's why campaigns against "gentrification" are so unhelpful, because they would create areas with lower levels of local spending and activism."

What makes areas interesting places to live in is the diversity of those who live there. From this diversity comes many different things, all which play a part in contributing to the quality (or lack) of life in that area. An objective of achieving 'higher spending' levels in an area inevitably leads to a situation where only those who can afford to are able to fully participate and be fully part of the social fabric of that community. This inveitably leads to either people not being able to fully participate in the local community they live in or the emigration of those who can no longer afford to live in a gentrified area to make way for those noble an honourable 'higher spending' souls who can afford it.In turn this leads to increasing geographical concentrations of homogenised areas - If you think the achievement of 'higher spending' in the gentrified areas outweighs the social cleansing that goes on then fair enough, I and many others like me don't. Differentials in life expectancy (which are caused by social/economic inequalities) between different geographical areas are already currently higher than at any other time on record, even higher than during the great depression - and that's before spending cuts begin to have the structural impact that they will have. Continued gentrification in the way it happens in this country will do nothing but further increase these differentials

You don't make a society more equal or fair or better through economic apartheid

love detective said...

@nick "Isn't that the same thing?"

If only i'd mentioned something about tautology in my post to highlight that very point

"They are better at it."

If I was able to make use of the fastest car in the world to set a land speed record i'd hold the record for fastest man (or woman) in the world - I don't so i'm not. It's not all about whether I am better at being the fastest person in the world than the next man (or woman)

"of which we two are members"

Difference being you were born into it

"And mostly, despite regular suggestions to the contrary, people all want the same kinds of things. Cleaner streets, better parks, lower crime, more local shops, better transport, fewer road deaths, better schools and hospitals, access to libraries."

There's a difference between wanting these things for everyone universally or wanting them for the specific area that you live in (see next point for the relevance of this)

"That's why campaigns against "gentrification" are so unhelpful, because they would create areas with lower levels of local spending and activism."

What makes areas interesting places to live in is the diversity of those who live there. From this diversity comes many different things, all which play a part in contributing to the quality (or lack) of life in that area. An objective of achieving 'higher spending' levels in an area inevitably leads to a situation where only those who can afford to are able to fully participate and be fully part of the social fabric of that community. This inveitably leads to either people not being able to fully participate in the local community they live in or the emigration of those who can no longer afford to live in a gentrified area to make way for those noble an honourable 'higher spending' souls who can afford it.In turn this leads to increasing geographical concentrations of homogenised areas - If you think the achievement of 'higher spending' in the gentrified areas outweighs the social cleansing that goes on then fair enough, I and many others like me don't. Differentials in life expectancy (which are caused by social/economic inequalities) between different geographical areas are already currently higher than at any other time on record, even higher than during the great depression - and that's before spending cuts begin to have the structural impact that they will have. Continued gentrification in the way it happens in this country will do nothing but further increase these differentials

You don't make a society more equal or fair or better through economic apartheid

Anonymous said...

I believe that over a certain amount of properties built, eg the new development in Lewisham,has to be handed over to Housing Associations.

love detective said...

so good it posted twice

(and before anyone jumps on it, the point about economic migration relates to the long run impacts/effects)

Brockley Nick said...

"What makes areas interesting places to live in is the diversity of those who live there."

Precisely. Diversity is a two-way street. Campaigning against people moving in to an area ain't championing diversity.

"Difference being you were born into it."

Oh please.

love detective said...

"Campaigning against people moving in to an area ain't championing diversity."

This is how you choose to frame/view campaigns against gentrification. Most campaigns I have seen (and would support) focus on ensuring that actual benefits are shared equitably between all of those in the community - current & prospective - and that people aern't excluded from participating fully in their local community/society due to social/economic/cultural barriers that often arise as a result of gentrification. If you have a problem with these aims then fine.

Sure the concerns and frustruations of those involved in anti-gentrification campaigns are often expressed poorly and in muddled ways which either give the impression, or allow others to project the impression, that it's just about railing against 'greedy bankers' and incomers and the like

"Oh please."

It has a big bearing on one's perspective nick

Brockley Nick said...

Well I guess I have to take your word for it that you dragged yourself up to your current status through nothing but noble virtue and hard work.

And you'll have to stick to your assumptions about my pampered upbringing.

And even then, we'll have to accept your view that these things have any relevance.

Lou Baker said...

Nothing wrong with gentrification.

This country needs more gentlemen and fewer chavs.

And it really isn't just about money - despite what love detective says.

It's about pride and community.

If you are proud of your community - whether it's a poor or a rich one - you'll want to make it as nice as you can.

That can be simple thing like not keeping crap dumped in your front garden, painting the outside of your home every few years, sweeping up leaves in autumn, moving your wheelie bin off the pavement except on bin day, cleaning your windows etc etc etc.

These things cost nothing. They happen in nice areas, they don't in bad areas.

We have some lovely housing stock in this area - in places it's as nice as Blackheath. But the pride is lacking - and that's why Blackheath is a nicer and more expensive place to live than Brockley.

lb said...

"These things cost nothing"

Well, I think you'll find that exterior paint costs a fair bit, for starters.

Lou Baker said...

Most of the houses here have four to six front windows with ledges - easily covered with a large can of paint or two.

That costs £15 a can, or to convert it in to chav, 3 packets of fags or a case and a bit of Stella.

And that's £15 you need to spend about every 5 years.

So, woaaahh, yeah it's well pricey.

Berk.

TJ said...

"These things cost nothing"

Well, I think you'll find that exterior paint costs a fair bit, for starters."

No LB - it is possible to paint your door, touch up your masonary, and your woodwork yourself. You don't have to have people in. Paint is very cheap at B&Q or other such place. I know because I do it.

lb said...

"Most of the houses here have four to six front windows with ledges - easily covered with a large can of paint or two."

Hiring a ladder? Or better still, scaffolding? Will your insurance cover you if you break your silly neck doing it leaning out of a window? How about if you're infirm and can't get up a ladder in the first place? No attention to detail, that's your problem.

No doubt many people in Blackheath can afford to get someone in to do the job for them, so it's not quite as simple as your buffoonish worldview would make out.

lb said...

TJ:

"Paint is very cheap at B&Q or other such place. I know because I do it"

Perhaps, but my main point was to suggest the spurious logic of the other post. It's possible to keep your house pristine and not be in any way community-minded; there's more to a "nice" area, whatever that means, than well-maintained housing stock.

Monkeyboy said...

I'm not a chav but can't be arsed to paint my house. I transcend traditional boundaries

Anonymous said...

...maybe you just don't know you are a chav. Do the neighbours whisper behind your back? Do you have a propensity for trainers and drinking from cans in the street?

lb said...

The above doesn't apply if the trainers are Onitsuka Tigers, mind you.

TJ (the original) said...

Great taste in footwear

love detective said...

I'll address your last point first nick

"And even then, we'll have to accept your view that these things have any relevance."

In my last two posts there were 46 lines of text, two of which related to a somewhat throwaway point about how someone's background has an impact on the way they look at things. You have chosen to largely ignore the other 44 lines which dealt with the actual topic at hand (or at least the derailed topic) and were in response to your own comments earlier on in the thread. You are the one that has made the comments relevant by ignoring everything else.

love detective said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
love detective said...

@ nick - "Well I guess I have to take your word for it that you dragged yourself up to your current status through nothing but noble virtue and hard work."

where did I ever say anything about noble virtue & hard work? If anything a desire to avoid hard work and laziness resulted in my 'current status'. But since you seem to be somewhat infatuated by my 'current status' let me tell you how I got there. After leaving school at 16 and doing a variety of manual jobs (milkman, gas delivery, postie) in the years that followed I began to think that getting a job inside in an office would be in my interests as it was just sitting about not doing that much all day (and in retrospect I'm always amazed at how right I was)

I eventually got a job in the post room of an office doing deliveries and photocopying, and after a while moved to the accounts dept as a dogsbody. That was the first time in my life I had met people who had been to university - every year they got a few graduates in and then supported them through their accountancy exams - training courses, time off for study, financial support etc.. I looked at these people and where previously I had had in my mind an impression of a graduate as some kind of super-human like person, I found them in the most part nothing special, mainly pompous and had an overrated sense of their own abilities/importance and thought I could easily do what they do, and quite fancied getting some of the pampered treatment they seemed to be getting. When I asked management if I could do that (i.e. get the kind of support they offered graduates to do professional exams), they laughed me out the room and pretty much said don't be silly, you're not the type of person that is able to do such things. So largely out of stubborness and a desire to make a point about people's incorrect assumptions about other people's abilities based on their social/economic class background I spent the next 4-5 years teaching/educating myself and eventually became a qualified accountant as a result. Since then i've taken the same approach to other areas of education/learning, philsophy, history, politics, economics etc...

None of this particularly required hard work as such or having a noble virtue as you put it, a certain amount of commitment perhaps (which in my case was motivated by class antagonism and a stubborn desire to make a point) and as far as job/work is concerned being in the right place at the right time has had just as much relevance than hard work and far more so than this noble virtue you talk off. This has hardned my view that we live in a society where no matter how much hard work and noble virtue you demonstrate it's still not sufficient (or even necessary in some cases) to get on in life - some people from time to time will break away from their material conditions and end up in a better position than their parents (as I did), but they are increasingly the exception, social mobility has plummeted since 1979 and increasingly the material conditions of the first few years of anyones life determines how the rest of their life will play out. Society of course likes to role out the exceptions to this (banson, sugar, that tosser from dragons den) to show how it's such a fair system and if you put in the hard work you will be amply rewarded, but this is nonsense and wouldn't pass muster with any scientific study on social mobility.

Apologies to all for this long and no doubt tedious/boring post - but due to a lack of commitment to hard work and a less than noble virture i'd rather be doing this than doing the work i'm currently being paid to do

love detective said...

(apologies for double post, seems to do that a lot)

@ nick - "And you'll have to stick to your assumptions about my pampered upbringing."

I only go on what you've publicly posted on this site, gew up in blackheath/greenwich area and went to oxford university - not exactly known for it's over representation of kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds. that's not to say that there are not some who manage it so I apologise if I have incorrectly assumed that the social/economic aspects of your upbringing put you in a better position than the majority of school leavers.

Brockley Nick said...

So your own story of personal upward mobility "has hardned my view that we live in a society where no matter how much hard work and noble virtue you demonstrate it's still not sufficient (or even necessary in some cases) to get on in life."

Makes sense.

love detective said...

if you'd actually read and understood my post, and stopped trying to misrepresent things, you would see that it makes perfect sense (i can never work out with you if you genuinely can't see the point or whether you just avoid aknowledging it)

the key point being that there was very little hard work or nobile virtue involved in my own social mobility (i.e. it was largely motivated though laziness as I explained abovr), while all around me I saw people from the same social background who in my opinion were hard workers and full of virtue yet all that counted for nothing in terms of mobility - they, like most others these days, are stuck in the position they were born into and any mobility is more likely to be down than up

elsiemaud boy said...

...fight fight fight fight...

Brockley Nick said...

@Ld - I think you are deliberately drawing the wrong lessons from your own life story to suit your broader world view.

Look at what you've said. You took a range of jobs, you identified that an office job might give you better opportunities and you went for it, you determined that you were at least as talented as those above you and taught yourself what you needed to achieve your ambitions.

You then say "oh well I wasn't trying very hard", but I put it to you that you showed considerably more ambition and hard work than most people and prospered as a result.

Now you want to have your cake and eat it by assigning all of that to serendipity. A right winger might read your story and say that this is exactly the sort of story that proves their world view - people can achieve what they want if they try hard. You make your own luck, etc.

Of course, you are right about lower social mobility (although I'd say that's more to do with an unprecedented period of change, post-war, with the massive expansion of the professional classes and bureaucracies than because of any social policies that followed), but your personal story most certainly does not support it. Unless you try really hard and look through a pair of turd-coloured spectacles. Which is what you like to do.

TJ said...

"I saw people from the same social background who in my opinion were hard workers and full of virtue yet all that counted for nothing in terms of mobility - they, like most others these days, are stuck in the position they were born into and any mobility is more likely to be down than up"

This is rubbish. I am from a working class background and went to Uni in the late 80s. I saw plenty of other working class kids there who were going on to middle class futures(if you like)in the professions.

And it is not just educational mobility. My twin brother did not go to Uni but got work at 18 and then after 10 years started his own company. He has worked hard, become very successful and now has a nationwide company.

Last example - when I was working at an investment bank in canary wharf, a steady stream of bright, hardworking guys from the post room used to enquire about entry level jobs in IT and back office functions. They often got those roles and it was not unusual to see them work their way from back-office to front floor trading, or up to the top of their department.

People are not stuck in their position - and the chances for mobility are out there - it's all about the person.

TJ said...

"A right winger might read your story and say that this is exactly the sort of story that proves their world view - people can achieve what they want if they try hard. You make your own luck, etc.
"

Yikes - am I one of those secret right wingers who vote labour?

Or rather, have I seen my own family take the chances that the post world war 2 socialist governments gave them and achieve...

Brockley Nick said...

@TJ - true enough. Basically I agree with you.

lb said...

But the fact that mobility is possible doesn't preclude the fact that many, many people from poorer backgrounds still find the scales weighted against them. For all that has been achieved (in some respects) since the end of WWII, there's still a long way to go before we can call ourselves a meritocracy. Personally I think we shouldn't be satisfied until we've achieved something a bit closer.

Brockley Nick said...

@LB - I agree with that too

TJ said...

I also agree that we are not enough of a meritocracy, like the US for example, and things in the UK are much easier for those from priviliged backgrounds who know the right people or just the 'way' to get into certain professions. (I've been on the end of that myself). Just look at who sits in the top levels of the BBC and you'll find it is mainly ex public school. I agree that things are weighted against you (for all sorts of reasons) if you are from a working class background.

What I don't agree with is the ascertation that "they, like most others these days, are stuck in the position they were born into". It may be difficult (but certainly not impossible) to become an MD in a top class firm - but it is not difficult to improve your position/lot in life noticabley.

love detective said...

"I think you are deliberately drawing the wrong lessons from your own life story to suit your broader world view"

I can't speak for you or others (although I would offer it as a general theory that I subscribe to), but my world view itself has been formed mainly as a result of the material conditions of the life I have lived so far and subsequent reflections on those experiences. You could argue that my worldview is misinformed or incorrect but to argue that I'm deliberately sifting through parts of my own life story or 'drawing the wong lessons' from it to fit with some world view that was born/formed independently of my own life & experiences, pretty much puts the cart before the horse.

And as a general response to you, TJ and our fictional right winger - I'd say that the standards for empirical proof of general social phenomena seem to be very much relaxed when it suits your own world view to do so. All three of you have used either my own (or others) individual and anecdotal life stories to rebut the general point I was making that social mobility in general has pretty much ground to a halt in the last three decades. Nowhere have I said there are no exceptions to this, but individual exceptions here and there are irelevant to the general point being made (and remind me of screaming daily mail headlines about people getting 2 grand a week housing benefit to justify an attack on all housing benefit). If any of you would like to present any broad based studies that rebut this general point and show trends in other directions then please do so. Otherwise to generalise out of the specific instances of certain selected people does nothing to rebut the broad based points I am making. The evidence clearly points to a situation when taken collectively, the specific instances of most individuals in society, shows an ever increasing trend for no social mobility, entrenched life chances from an ever earlier age, and an ever increasing social/economic/health inequality within our society.

Brockley Nick said...

@LD "All three of you have used either my own (or others) individual and anecdotal life stories to rebut the general point I was making that social mobility in general has pretty much ground to a halt in the last three decades."

I certainly haven't. I specifically agreed with this general point. I'm saying your story does nothing to reinforce it.

My view, for what it's worth, is that social mobility is almost entirely a function of early education and a low-expectation culture in too many communities. Invest in schools, social services and youth opportunity if you want to move the needle.

love detective said...

"I certainly haven't. I specifically agreed with this general point. I'm saying your story does nothing to reinforce it."

Fair enough, I misrepresented you somewhat there. However your pointing out that my life story does nothing to reinforce the general phenomena is pretty much the same thing, i.e. isolated & individual instances of people doing things have little relevance in terms of the general social trend. You may well then make the point that it was indeed me who was trying to draw an inference between the individual and the general however this is not quite the same thing. If you cast your mind back, the things I said above which started this particular exchange was this:-

as far as job/work is concerned being in the right place at the right time has had just as much relevance than hard work and far more so than this noble virtue you talk off. This has hardned my view that we live in a society where no matter how much hard work and noble virtue you demonstrate it's still not sufficient (or even necessary in some cases) to get on in life

i.e. the usage of my life story I was making here was not as to whether it is possible or not for some people to be socially mobile, rather I was challenging the view that as long as you put in hard work and are a noble soul then you will be ok (i.e. the TJ position which says it's purely about the individual, as if an individual lives in a completely atomised world with cause & effect limited entirely to, and internalised within, their own selves) - I then stated that in my case that being in the right place at the right time (i.e. luck) had just as much relevance as hard work. So nowhere have I denied that hard work plays some part, my point is that it is certainly not sufficient in and off itself.

"Invest in schools, social services and youth opportunity"

which neatly brings us back to the topic of the thread

Lou Baker said...

@nick

You're right. But I'd go further. Just investing in schools is too late. Invest in pre-school aged kids. Invest in parenting classes. Invest a hell of a lot in kids in care. Those poor sods deserve the best of the best.

Is this stuff expensive? Yes - but you save in the long run. Better educated kids are less likely to get
involved in crime, less likely to end up
on benefits, more likely to pay taxes and more likely to
be healthy.

Where I disagree with love detective is in the role of the individual. The state can only do so much. Beyond that your lot in life is down to you. Yes we should help those in need of help BUT they have to help themselves too.

Brockley Nick said...

LD, you, TJ and even LB can all be right.

TJ and Lou are surely right that the world of work is meritocratic enough and there is enough of support for adult learners that people with a will and ability can get improve their lot.

However, you are right that there are fundamental problems, which means that people aren't able to take these opportunities.

eg: Some people have grown up in households where the world of work is totally alien to them - generations unemployed, who think work is for other people, not for the likes of them.

eg: Some communities believe so greatly that the dice are stacked against them that they don't believe that their efforts will be rewarded.

eg: Some people leave school so poorly-educated that they wouldn't even know how to use the council website to find out about courses available to them.

This is the real challenge. The challenge 60 years ago was to help bright, able working class people get access to the expanding middle classes. That expansion has happened.

Now, we have a much smaller working class, chasing fewer jobs from the routes that were open to their parents (local manufacturing, apprenticeships for trades). For the bright, motivated and supported ones, there is opportunity of the sort TJ has described.

For those without support, a meritocracy can be pretty brutal. It can create an underclass of people completely unprepared for the modern world of work.

Lou Baker said...

What do you mean even LB can be right?

Seriously maligned. That's me.

Lou is Brockley Central's underclass.

love detective said...

no time for any more discussion i'm afraid

although I agree with everything LB said in the last post (apart from the bit where he seems to think that I think that the individual has no role to play in all this, I do - and in relation to this and other problems of modern society I have often used a reworking of an oft-quoted john major phrase - we need to understand a little more and condemn a little more)

TJ said...

Love Detective - firstly I shan't be quoting any broad based studies as I don't have the time or inclination - this is a blog and I'm making a personal viewpoint based not just on my experience, but a fairly wide observation from both the working world and the academic world. I don't believe you have quoted any studies either - but don't worry, I'm sure you can. Studies can be quoted for anything (look at the Daily Mail).

You say my position is that it is purely about the individual - well you must have missed my post that said that I don't believe that the working class have the same starting point as the other classes - and that the middle class have the connections and the know how to get a better start.

I also very much agree with Nick that education is the key enabler to mobility. The access to education, partial dismantling of the class system, and provision of social security after WW2 enabled my family (who for 200 years previous were bricklayers, boiler stokers, agriculural labourers and laundresses) to become - in one generation - secretarys, air traffic controllers and bookkeepers. Ensuring that these are maintinaed under the new government is a worrying prospect.

I'm most certainly not condemning anyone - just refuting (and this is how I joined the discussion) the assertaion that 'these days, [the working class]are stuck in the position they were born into and any mobility is more likely to be down than up'.


And on that I'll bow out.

Brockley Kate said...

The USA is a meritocracy?!

TJ said...

Bow back in.

Yes Kate - I'd say so - most firms have strict rules about nepotism, people are not likely to be hired on a class, right school, accent or other spurious basis, but on their ability.

I'd say the American Dream (and we can discuss if that is a myth or a reality till the cows come home) is an ideal in their society - and that dream is based on being able to make it, whatever your background.

Interested as to why you think it is not a meritocracy?

Oh and I hold a US passport (as well as a UK one) as my dad is American - just nailing my colours to the wall.

Name said...

My contribution to this thread is this: do please read.

http://projects.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/07/class-trouble-working-class-young-peoples-views-educational-achievement-gap/

By the way did anybody download* that Micky Flanagan - 'What chance change?' Radio 4 programme, it's a v. special piece of radio and sadly I missed episode two, the part when Micky left his eastend life for New York.

*I'd be happy for a written summary of how he changed his life.

Pepe said...

I'd agree with TJ. The USA is all about success. If you are successful you are popular. Success is defined there as being good at what you do and earning well on it. I don't think there is a western country that is more of a meritocrocy than America. A meritocracy is where you succeed because of ability in whatever field you choose.

Tressilliana said...

Name, it was great, wasn't it. The bit where he said that one boy in his class said once that his ambition was to drive a van - and all the other boys were aghast and said 'You dreamer, Hutton! Don't you know that this school exists to produce the people who carry the stuff TO the van. No pupil of this school has ever risen to the heights of driving a van!'

There's a site called torrent that appears to have MP3 versions of the series.

Name said...

yes it was :) I loved that bit too, his delivery is brilliant. So funny but a poignant too. Thanks for the tip, must say I'm wary torrents but to hear episode 2, I'll put the health of my hardrive at risk.

Eric blair said...

Douglas Bader didn’t let the small matter of being sans legs prevent him becoming a WWII fighter ace
 
Liddle and Abrahams didn’t let snobbery and anti Semitism stop them from achieving sporting perfection at the Olympics
 
Susan Bolye lived the dream
 
LD became a chartered accountant.
 
There’s a lesson here we can all draw upon.

Anonymous said...

Reading the minutes of the councils last meeting...is it correct the council has actually increased its allowances to councillors?

Also councillors are now to be provided with mobile phones and other creature comforts such as taxis?

Anonymous said...

Having a work mobile is hardly unusual.

love detective said...

"people are not likely to be hired on a class, right school, accent or other spurious basis, but on their ability"

and of course your socio-economic background or the quality of schooling/education has absolutely no determination on your 'ability'

Even the people I have been arguing against in this thread agree that a better and more comprehensive education from a very early age is crucial in making society more fairer

Like Kate I was astounded by the claim that the US is a meritocracy. it may be in an economic liberal's terms where freedom is nothing more than freedom from chains, but that's not enough in a society that is characterised by huge economic inequalities. and sure as people have done on this thread, we can all role out individual examples where people have managed to overcome these obstacles, but the very reason we are able to do so is because of the very fact that these examples stand out and make us take notice because they are so unusual, unique and individual. the life stories of those (which despite TJ's claims, are the majority these days) who don't make it are largely hidden from view because they represent the banal mundane reality of life in our society - everyone likes a story about a heroic individual bucking the trend, it peaks our interest and offers (a somewhat false/misleading) inspiration for others. No one is saying that these things don't exist, just that they are not representative.

Brockley Nick said...

The US does celebrate success very well and has a fantastically entrepreneurial culture. That is not the same thing as it being a meritocracy.

Tony Blair platitude said...

There’s a lesson here we can all draw upon.

Yes, that exceptional people or people with exceptional talents can transcend their circumstances.

lb said...

How about exceptionable people?

Anonymous said...

How is buying mobiles for councillors saving money?

TJ said...

mer·i·toc·ra·cy   /ˌmɛrɪˈtɒkrəsi/ Show Spelled[mer-i-tok-ruh-see] Show IPA
–noun, plural -cies.
1. an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth.
2. a system in which such persons are rewarded and advanced: 'The dean believes the educational system should be a meritocracy.'
3. leadership by able and talented persons.


Sounds like the US to me. Or at the very least they are a lot closer to it than the UK.

TJ said...

LD - I was one of those that said "agree that a better and more comprehensive education from a very early age is crucial in making society more fairer" - but the quote you select from me is about the US being a meritocracy - not about fair society.

A country not having a fair distribution of wealth does not mean that it is not a meritocracy.

I stand by my point that in the US, generally speaking, 'progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth.' That is the definition of a meritocracy. Whether soci-economic elements mean that you find more difficult to achieve that ability is another argument. In the UK you can have the abiltiy - but class can still mean, in some cases, that you don't get the opportunities to progress.

Brockley Nick said...

Barak Obama's election suggests it's a meritocracy, the Bush political dynasty suggests it isn't.

No country is a pure meritocracy - formal and informal networks, the cost of education, discrimination - all of these things are constraints on a meritocracy and they are all issues in the US, as they are here.

There is a lot of evidence to show that social mobility has massively decreased in the US over the last 30 years. Average incomes have remained static, almost all of the US' wealth creation in the last decade has gone to the very richest. Wealth inequality can be said to reward the best and brightest, but it can also place barriers in the way of people.

love detective said...

"I stand by my point that in the US, generally speaking, 'progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth.' That is the definition of a meritocracy. Whether soci-economic elements mean that you find more difficult to achieve that ability is another argument."

we'll have to agree to disagree then - if you think the point about how and through what means you acquire that enabling ability is 'another argument' and divorced from the point being discussed, then there's not much point carrying on this discussion. as for you a (hypothetical) society where say only 1% of priviliged people received an education and then based on that were able to achieve good things in life would be a meritocracy. If you divorce what enables/produces ability in the first place from what you can then do with that ability then it seems to miss the crux of the issue

love detective said...

"Average incomes have remained static, almost all of the US' wealth creation in the last decade has gone to the very richest"

indeed, a recent study showed that 58% of every dollar of real income growth from 1976 through 2007 went to the richest 1%

the political response to the rising levels of inequality that this generated (to stave of any threat of social unrest as a result)was to encourage lending to low income households to temporarily plaster over the actual impacts of such a deep inequality - the consequences of which are now well known and beginning to be felt by all, hence threads like this

lb said...

A statistic I once saw (perhaps a decade ago) outlined the main difference between UK and US mobility in terms of the lowest income groups in both countries. Those in the US were significantly worse off, in relative terms, than those in the UK. However when the same people were surveyed several years later, it was found that a high number of those formerly in the US bottom income group were no longer in that group (unfortunately the study did not indentify possible factors behind this mobility).

It's probably an accurate assessment that social mobility in the US is decreasing, however. The idea of America as the Land of Opportunity is rooted in a time when (in contrast to Europe, where the opposite was true) American land was cheap, and labour was expensive. It's this distinction that underlies much of the American political system, as well as explaining why leftish social-democracy never took root there as it did in Europe. The economy of the US has changed a lot since that time, though.

Personally I think one of the most obvious, if perhaps indirect, social bars existing in certain industries (both in the UK and the US) is their reliance on unpaid "internships" to gain experience. Not sure what could be done about this one.

lb said...

"was to encourage lending to low income households to temporarily plaster over the actual impacts of such a deep inequality"

Indeed, an interesting counterpart to the Thatcher government's tactic of encouraging people to purchase their council homes. This, aside from its emphasis on "wealth" creation, was pretty much a shameless attempt to establish a patronage network (albeit in place of patronage networks that already existed, based on local authorities). Incidentally it was also one of the main engines behind the ridiculous overvaluation of property in the UK over the past 30 years, another contribution to our stupidly overleveraged economy.

TJ said...

"Personally I think one of the most obvious, if perhaps indirect, social bars existing in certain industries (both in the UK and the US) is their reliance on unpaid "internships" to gain experience. Not sure what could be done about this one."

I very much agree with you on this LB. It seems that increasingly to obtain a position in media, law and many other industries, you need to be able to fund an internship.

LD - you're right - discussion over.

Brockley Kate said...

The FT says America is definitely not anywhere near a meritocracy, and getting further away every day:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/1a8a5cb2-9ab2-11df-87e6-00144feab49a.html

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