Thursday, 1 January 2015

Only we know how to do these things

Unfortunately 2015 has not started well. Oh it had the fantastic firework displays and I have no doubt that a lot of people were happy.  But then I hear Butler-Sloss speaking on BBC Radio 4.  Lady Butler-Sloss said she worried that “the victims and survivors, for whom I have the most enormous sympathy – and as a judge I tried a great many child abuse cases – for them to be deciding who should be the person chairing it creates real problems”. Yes, indeed it does, they wouldn't want her to chair it for a start. But is that really a problem? Here is what she went on to say.

“If you do not have in the past a position of authority, how are you going to be able to run the inquiry? You are going to need someone who knows how to run things and if you get someone with an obscure background with no background of establishment, they will find it very difficult and may not be able to produce the goods.”

You see, that is what the people who consider themselves to be 'of the establishment', 'one of us', think. They are better than everyone else. Oh yes they are! After all, how else would they be 'one of them'. Only they could possibly have the intelligence, the ability, the experience, the hidden ingredient of the elite. They dine with each other. Their brothers and uncles and aunts and mothers and fathers, and uncle Tom Cobbly and all were 'one of them', so they must be 'suitable'.  We are the establishment. We are the champions. We are the best. Only we, brothers, know how to do these things. Oh dear! Did she really say that? Well, almost.

I once read a book that was given to me as a Christmas present way back in the 19960s when I first got interested in politics. It was 'The Anatomy of Britain'. What it demonstrates was how a relatively small elite, from the 'right' backgrounds, who went to the 'right' schools 'ran' Britain. Sadly it is still true today. Which brings me to the New Year's honours.

I do not like the honours system. It perpetuates exactly the problem described above. The honours system still makes little sense. I am pleased for those who have received an honour 'from the Queen'. I am particularly pleased when it goes to those who worked hard to fight injustice and most often against the establishment - people like Butler-Sloss, the people who think they are the only people who can run things. Born and bred to it they are. So when honours do go to someone who has spent a lifetime fighting them then I should be happy. But I still think the system stinks. And Butler-Sloss can be thanked for being honest enough to reveal how the members of 'the establishment' think. Thank you Lady Butler Sloss. You have made me radical again.

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