To finish off a few recent posts on social mobility, let's look at the model of mobility that Milburn and Mandelson have quoted. They want to see access to the 'top professions' widened to poor kids from sink council estates. In their minds they see a caring and competent Comprehensive that nurses talent into an ancient Oxford college, where it achieves a double starred first before a meteoric rise through pupillage at London's most prestigious chambers to taking silk. What nonsense. What risible rubbish. What disconnected, deluded fantasy.
Yes, I'm sure one or two may make this journey once every few years, but to base public policy on it is about as realistic and useful as creating 100,000 training places for astronauts.
The reality of social mobility is an iterative process that commonly takes two generations. The biggest boost most unemployed parents can give their children is to get an indoors job with no heavy lifting. The children of a C2 parent have double the life chances of the children of a D/E parent. And if those parents are diligent and capable and advance to a position that can be classed as C1, there is a decent chance that their children will achieve social class B. This is the reality. The leap from a D/E household to an A achieving child is rare as hen's teeth.
Once we recognise that all long-term welfare parents are child abusers (in terms of trashing their children's life chances), once TV peak programmes have Kim and Aggie throwing DVDs in the skip, ripping satellite dishes from walls and filling shelves with books, then I will have confidence that that first, most important step has been recognised. Forget the Oxford entrance exam; a Harry Potter omnibus for every Welfare home is a more realistic and more effective target.