Educational divide

All the signs suggest that leaving the EU will cause economic hurt, yet voting intentions over Brexit remain unaltered. Why?

The answer lies in a novel written 60 years ago by a Labour Party grandee. In “The Rise of the Meritocracy”, Michael Young envisioned a dystopian future polarised between a class of winners (exam-passers) and a class of losers (exam-flunkers): his great insight was that, in modern society, it is your relationship “to the machinery of educational selection” (from the 11-plus on) and not to the means of production, that determines your life chances and your sense of self-worth. So it is in today’s Britain: public schools have become exam factories, the top 10% of households own 44% of the wealth, and the “smug” cosmopolitan exam-passers act as if they are morally and intellectually superior to the exam-flunkers.

Brexit expressed this culture war: 75% of those with no educational qualifications voted for it; 70% of graduates voted Remain. So why would Leavers admit they’re wrong? Having been told their vote reflected their low intel-ligence, they’ll be damned if they’ll give their opponents “yet another reason to feel smug”. (Bagehot, The Economist. 17 Feb 2018)

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