Six: Why low, why now?


The idea that (upward) mobility rates are too low attracts politicians who can then use it to criticise their opponents. In recent internal party struggles, both New Labour and the ‘Orange Book’ LibDems needed new symbols of legitimation, while the younger generation of Tories could use it against the ‘Old Guard’. But mobility is also part of growing discontent among the ‘squeezed middle’ and the alienated working class. Some politicians’ ‘underclass anxiety’ about the restlessness of those excluded from the good things in life, helped motivate pro-mobility policies. Urban riots, the Scottish Referendum, and UKIP support, while of course not solely about lack of perceived mobility opportunities, all depended on a sense of disenfranchisement, distance from a closed and self-recruited elite, and no prospects for improvement.

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The New Social Mobility
How the Politicians Got It Wrong