Kevin McKenna: A pattern of privilege that at all costs must be unstitched
Kevin McKenna cited Sutton Trust Leading People research in a column for Herald Scotland.
THERE are no prizes for guessing which one of the proposals of the Scottish Government’s Commission on Widening Access caused many right-wing commentators to suffer a mass convulsive meltdown earlier this week. The commission was established partly to address one of the more tragic of the many iniquities that still beset life in modern Scotland. This is the one whereby the chances of children from our most disadvantaged communities gaining access to our top universities can be rated in two categories: none and next to none.
Last month, a survey by the Sutton Trust showed people with a private education are much more likely to go to the top of British public life. Barely seven per cent of the population attend fee-paying schools, yet those who do are disproportionately represented in the most important sectors of civic and public life. More than 70 per cent of top military officers were educated privately with only 12 per cent from comprehensive schools. This makes a great deal of sense. For, if you had too many of hoi polloi making decisions about life and death, they might be less willing to risk the lives of the British state’s traditional cannon fodder.
The survey also found that pay rises faster for privately educated graduates, and that in the legal profession 74 per cent of leading judges working in the high court and appeals court were privately educated. In my own trade, journalism, more than half of our most influential writers went to independent schools. Only one in five received a comprehensive education, a system that educates almost 90 per cent of the rest of the population. In politics, half of the cabinet is privately-educated. So there you have it: when you’ve got the legislature, the judiciary, the military and the propaganda all under control your power base is well-nigh impregnable.
If you think the pattern of privilege stops at the Scottish Border, think again. Around three-quarters of top judges were privately educated in a country where only around four per cent of the population attends these facilities.
Read his full column here