Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Eton Manifesto (sorry about that one)

Dave writes a piece on public school and privilege without mentioning the grammar schools! See, it can be done, apparently. It's actually rather good stuff. I think it might have been a bit better if he had noted that the Etonians aren't the only big network that operates in the world; there are a fair number of Old Communists hanging around and although I doubt that there are all that many women who fetishise sleeping with them, there are quite a few of them in prominent positions. I have no information as to whether the fact that his father was Sam Aaronovitch has ever helped Dave in his career, but I would think it rather odd if it hadn't.

Of course the truly radical point of view would be that the bad thing is that there are so many positions of exalted power and reward, not that the golden tickets are shared out in this way rather than that way. But it would be a bit churlish to get all Rise of the Meritocracy on Dave's ass; this was quite a good piece and there are far worse sinners on that account.

By the way and for what it's worth, I'm guessing that when Dave says "average gross annual earnings" are £23,400, he is referring to annual gross pay in the ONS survey of hours and earnings. This is a defensible measure, but people do receive benefits (including child benefit), self employment income, interest and property income, and households with children usually have more than one wage-earner these days meaning that average per capita income is more like £34,000. Also it is per capita rather than per household and refers to the UK as a whole; for England the number is more like £24,000. This is nitpicking though; it doesn't really affect the point that Eton is bloody expensive and in many ways, kudos to Dave for bothering to pick through the frustratingly incomprehensible ONS website at all.

22 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

You mean 'average per household' not per capita, I think.

It was a good piece, but he really should have mentioned towards the end that he didn't send his own child to a state school - even a grammar school - because it would have black, muslim and learning-adverse-background girls in it - and instead plumped for a private one which had 'well spoken' girls.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/britainsschools/story/0,8224,1061131,00.html

6/20/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

which one is per household? I wasn't concentrating very hard

6/20/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and households with children usually have more than one wage-earner these days meaning that average per capita income is more like £34,000.

{Matthew]

6/20/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

ahhh thanks. that's actually badly phrased. The average per capita income is £34k, and the fact that households with children have more than one earner would mean that the average gross per household income is higher than that.

6/20/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Backword Dave said...

I think you're wrong on a couple of points. "I have no information as to whether the fact that his father was Sam Aaronovitch has ever helped Dave in his career, but I would think it rather odd if it hadn't."

I don't see how having a dad who's an economist, no matter how famous really helps if you don't get your degree as planned and go to Manchester instead to doss about and run the NUS. (I've never heard of successfully running for NUS president having anything to do with academic parents.) Having well off parents may have helped him doss around a bit, but it doesn't help much in media. I think you're over estimating both the influence of family over individual ability and the importance of academics in this country. (Which is where I think the EM lot go wrong too.) If his dad had been Prime Minister or was Rupert Murdoch, you'd be right, but not otherwise.

Matthew, Dave can be a bit of a wally, but there's no evidence that he sent his kids to private school to avoid black or Muslim kids. Poor black and Muslim kids, perhaps, but not b&M kids per se. He's not a racist. And if I had kids, I'd worry about 'learning-adverse-background' kids at their schools too.

6/20/2006 05:33:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

well ... I dunno. SA wasn't just an economist; he was also a fairly senior member of the CPGB which was (a lineal grouplet parent of) the party Aaro joined and ran for NUS president as. Your family helps you one way or another, pretty much no matter who you are. Since Aaro ran for the NUS on a young Communists ticket I think it's fair enough to speculate whether he was helped at least a little bit by the fact that he must have grown up with decent Communist contacts via his dad. (Aaro's friendship in the YCs with Peter Mandelson must surely have helped him at LWT; I guess this doesn't have much to do with family networks but it does show that the Old Etonians and the Old Young Communists are the same sort of thing). I'm not morally condemning the guy or anything but as I say, it would be odd if this particular past hadn't ever helped him out at all.

6/20/2006 06:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well yes. Curious thing about these post-communist times, the YCL background being almost like an old school tie. I suppose the class differential between the Euros and tankies was a factor.

Not to mention that back in the day the YCL were far to the right of the LPYS - the Stalinist roots of Decentism raise their head once more...

Pity I don't have my file of Marxism Today handy, I remember the CP debate on Afghanistan but can't for the life of me recall if young Aaro spoke for humanitarian intervention.

Having said that, not a bad article by his recent standards.

6/20/2006 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I dunno either. The evidence is the link I gave to his article, and I - thought - I was entirely fair on explaining his reasons. I don't think Aaro is a racist, and I don't think I have ever claimed he was.

6/20/2006 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Just to add, I think I answered your first point, ie He Did. The second is simply, of course, yes we all might, but having done so, would we then rush to write an article (or multiple articles if you read his archive) criticising others for similar decisions? Nope.

6/20/2006 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Oh God, passed the "third comment" madman point, but I realised that perhaps the link was too long to click on.

If so, here it is:

http://tinyurl.com/jve98

6/20/2006 10:22:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

I think Matthew is right; Aaro did make a point of mentioning the ethnic makeup of the schools he rejected and chose (actually, his daughter did the choosing but you know what I mean). In many ways it was quite straight of him to mention the fact; he must have known what he was doing and he can't exactly have expected to get many heartfelt congratulations from his readers for doing it. But he certainly did mention it.

6/20/2006 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I don't think "Stalinist roots of decentism .. " is right. The groupuscule whose children are most implicated in decentism is the Trotskysant Socialist Organiser: Jane Ashworth, Simon Pottinger, Alan NTM Johnson and many of the Engage crowd (Bob Fine, possibly David Hirsh) are former members. Geras is ex-IMG, though was never a very active member. Ditto Euston signatories Colin Meade and Quintin Hoare. Hoare fils spent some time in the WRP.

On the tankie side of things: John Lloyd may have been associated with the weird Stalinist-theoreticist sect BICO at one time; and John Mann MP was a leading light in semi-tankist student faction Clause 4.

6/21/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The groupuscule whose children are most implicated in decentism is the Trotskysant Socialist Organiser" - point well taken. I've noticed our pal Matgamna tearing strips off Alan NTM.

I don't think young Attila was an actual WRP member - he denies it, for what that's worth - but for a while was the right hand of WRP honcho Cliff Slaughter. That was of course one of the later splinters, not the "real" WRP of Healy and Banda. Attila talks tough, but I wouldn't like to bet on him surviving that environment.

The YCL old boys network is of course more prevalent in the Blair government.

6/21/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your source for "average per capita income is more like £34,000. " - it sounds like rubbish to me.

Really you should be using medians not means for employee earnings, cos outliers distort the means (ie the super rich throw the figures wonky) an average, "typical" full time male worker is on £24 k. A full time woman working is on £19k (median). However, a "typical" couple with children will invlve the man working full time, the woman working part time after the child hits school age. Benefits count, but I think putting ".self employment income, interest and property income," on top of weage income is very untypical

6/21/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Backword Dave said...

OK Matt and D2, I missed the link Matt gave (it's clear on the permalink page, but it cuts off on the 'post a comment page'). As always, Matt's ability to recall and then find damning articles from long ago defeats me. Though I'll admit that I can't pin down what Aaro is saying in that article beyond he doesn't like Oliver Letwin, and he does like private schools. (I think Matt does have a point. DA's "the comprehensive, with the black girls and the Muslim girls" and "a [private]school full of lovely girls and excellent teachers" are unfortunate, and I hope unconscious on his part.

D2 may be right about Aaro's dad, although the CPGB has never had much impact that I can recall.

6/21/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

What is your source for "average per capita income is more like £34,000. " - it sounds like rubbish to me

Per household rather than per capita; Matthew got this right. On the other hand, you're wrong on the direction of the mean/median distinction; we still have an at least slightly progressive benefits system. The median figure for household gross income for families with dependent children is also around £700/week

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/Expodata/Spreadsheets/D8715.xls

also remember that "investment income" includes pension annuities and even the average bottom quintile household has £1000/year of it.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Expodata/Spreadsheets/D9293.xls

6/21/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I don't quite understand that comment - median household income is definitely less than mean in the UK.

The chart on p.1 of this shows the story

http://tinyurl.com/gkjxq

Average original household income in 2004/2005 was £27,569 with average final income £25,810.

Median final income isn't on there but it will come in the 3rd quintile, which had an average of 21575 and 22533. So I think median household income will be below 20k.

6/21/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

the number I was talking about was "gross income"; with benefits but gross of direct taxes, and it's £34k average for all households and £36k median for households with dependent children. The median appears to be higher than the mean for families with dependent children; I suspect this is because pensioners pull the bottom end of the distribution downward.

6/21/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Ok I see what you mean. However the median will fall into the 500 - 700 pound a week group, but only 5/19th of the way in, so I'd have thought we're talking about more like 540-550.

6/21/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Dave - I think that Aaro piece is probably just badly written, and doesn't represent Dave's view. I think it was a stupid piece to write - it basically boils down to Dave saying he was better than Oliver Letwin because he briefly considered sending his children to state schools, though even this rather pathetic argument breaks down from what he tells us about the decision process, which essentially shows he didn't consider the state school.

6/21/2006 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

Re Socialist Organiser, the SOGS were by far the most pro-Russia of the Trot groups in the 80's (unconditional defence of the USSR) so I don't think the "stalisist roots" thing is too far off.

Off topic (but rather amusing) seems to be a bit of trouble in Decentville

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/dstpfw/115059459514755370/

6/22/2006 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

If nothing is eventually found, I - as a supporter of the war - will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again. And, more to the point, neither will anyone else. Those weapons had better be there somewhere.

6/22/2006 05:11:00 AM  

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