Labour policy-makers have decided to warm over one of Harriet Harman’s gems from the past. Thankfully it’s not about lowering the age of consent to 14 and there’s no connection either with the Paedophile Information Exchange. In fact, this provision dates from 2010, although the spirit of the thing goes back much further and owes a lot to Stalinism, or proto-Milibandism: the new name for good ol’ Uncle Joe’s school of political theory.
Harman’s Law is a rehash in modern dress of the old communist chestnut of getting the children of the middle classes conscripted to the tractor factory while the workers’ offspring are assigned to university. The current mouthpiece for Harman’s Law is that tribune of the proletariat, Gloria de Piero, Labour MP and former television ‘personality’ who hasn’t twigged what the rest of us know, namely that she became middle class while she wasn’t looking.
If Labour was interested in helping working class people get on, they would of course be campaigning for grammar schools, but the goal has nothing to do with aspiration or helping the individual realise his potential, and everything to do with equality which is today’s gloss for envy, class warfare and dull conformity.
It came home to Gloria that she was discriminated against when she applied to work for the BBC where she was told that she “was not from an under-represented group”. They hired her nonetheless but, she says, employers like the BBC should focus when hiring on social background, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexuality and especially social background.
Of course, she was a fresh-faced graduate at the time of the BBC job interview and a bit vulpine around the edges if you care for that sort of thing. She was not some old tomato wanting to keep her job after the lens had stopped caressing her, so “under-represented group” is a concept that might broaden for Gloria as so much else will over time.
However, wishing to belong to an under-represented group doesn’t sound like an appeal for equality so much as an appeal for special treatment. It sounds like clutching at some kind of victim badge in order to leap-frog over better qualified people who regrettably have some of the attributes of being white, able-bodied, heterosexual, middle class or male.
With this brand of equality the children of people educated at public school would be dispersed at random around comprehensive schools in special measures so that the loathsome paradigm of privilege could be smashed forever and working class children could have a crack at the best schools. And then we swap round again for the next generation and so on, turn and turn about, ad infinitum.
This could obviously end up being quite confusing but mercifully, the socialist hereditary principle operates to provide a bit of continuity for our leaders. You can become an honorary member of the working class if your antecedents are working class which in Hattie’s case is quite some way back and/or if you rise in the Labour Party. By this means you, your heirs and possibly even assigns carry the working class membership card in your dainty, uncalloused hands in perpetuity.
So when we all vote in May because we want to live under Harman’s Law and enjoy untrammelled equality henceforth, we can feel a glow in the happy knowledge that the will of the people is being enacted in Parliament thanks to some of our bright but vaguely familiar-sounding fresh Labour cadres, including Stephen Kinnock, Will Straw, Hattie’s boy Joe Dromey, David Prescott and Emily Benn. If young Euan Blair ends up sitting this dance out no doubt his time will come once his moniker has been rehabilitated by the Party commissars and he is allowed to take his due place among the nomenklatura.