Cameron, aspiration… and Gangnam Style.

Maelo Manning, the Lib Dem Child, blogs for us on Cameron’s speech at Tory party conference.

I have had so many laughs from watching the Eton Gangnam Style Video featuring boys from the school mocking themselves. What has provided equal entertainment for me has been reading the YouTube comments; which show how deeply people feel about class and opportunity. When David Cameron gave his conference speech on October 10th he mentioned two things which still annoy me.

These were about aspiration and education.

Both are victims of the ideology to reduce the size of the state. People are being held to ransom but still, Cameron persists in telling us all that we are ‘in this together’, that we just need to get up and go and we will all do well. Even as a child I can see that this is illogical.

State education depends on public spending. If the money does not go into it, then the results are not produced. The people who suffer are school children. Yes, I know about pupil premium and the recruitment drive to get good graduates to become teachers. I also know about children who are increasingly going to food banks with their parents to be fed, who are not eating breakfast because their parents have lost their jobs and children who dream of going to Cambridge but may not make it because they live in bad accommodation or, even worse,  are housed in B&Bs.   Youth unemployment is on the rise and no one can say that aspiration is lacking there. It is lack of jobs.

Let’s look at Cameron’s speech. He said: “…aspiration. People rising from the bottom to the top. Line one, rule one of being a Conservative is that it’s not where you’ve come from that counts, it’s where you’re going’.

Aspiration is something that anyone can have, I admit, freely. It matters not where you come from or who you are, aspiration is a free will. However, in the real world, aspiration is bounded by opportunities, chances and good beginnings. The children whose lives I describe above may have plenty of aspiration but the hurdles they have to climb are much higher because of the state cuts. Also, competing against Eton boys and their types really isn’t easy when outcomes are judged by end results not aspiration – if you don’t get As you don’t get into Oxbridge and many other universities.

The sentence about ‘people rising from the bottom to the top’ is an attempt, I think, to divide people into welfare haters and welfare receivers. Welfare reforms are cutting back the state. Those who are on welfare are being stigmatised as ‘scroungers’ but it hides the fact that most people on welfare are working but in low income jobs, “the working poor”.

Aspiration is not some abstract gung ho feeling that makes people climb ladders faster.  Aspiration in itself does not make you prime minister or deputy prime minister. Aspiration in itself does not move you from welfare into a well paid job. Aspiration depends on reality. Make it real for people to be able to rise from bottom to top first then chuck these ridiculous lines at them about aspiration.

Maelo Manning is thirteen years old, and has been blogging at LibDemChild since April 2010 in support of the Liberal Democrats. She has attended conferences and been involved in politics since the age of 10, and has given 5 speeches at Conference on issues that affect youth.You can follow her on twitter at @LibDemChild.

This article is solely the views of the author, and is not representative of Liberal Youth, the Liberal Democrats, nor the editorship of the Libertine.


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