Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Kynaston's lessons of history for the coalition

David Kynaston, the distinguished chronicler of Britain’s immediate postwar years, seeks some lessons of history for the coalition as they prepare what are widely reported as the most significant government cuts of recent years [in The Guardian]. The stakes are high, warns Kynaston. ‘There may be real trouble ahead if our rulers get it wrong’. It’s an interesting, if pessimistic piece, but marred by unimaginative remedies, harking back to an imagined post-1945 settlement, which demonstrates that even the finest cartographers of the past often find it difficult to navigate the future. ‘My preference,’ says Kynaston, ‘would be for an ambitious, quota-driven, once and for all opening up of Oxbridge, the media and professions, belatedly completing what the mid-Victorians did to the aristocratic stranglehold.’ Yet Oxbridge (why the obsession?), the media and professions, if they are to be of benefit to the wider society, still need to be peopled by those who have had a first class secondary education. Kynaston appears to have no thoughts on how that can be achieved.

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