Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Elitism and Privilege Are Depressing Reminders of the Odds Kids Face Today

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Elitism and Privilege Are Depressing Reminders of the Odds Kids Face Today

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosamund Urwin

SO WHAT first made publishers think David and Victoria Beckham's son Brooklyn should do a photography book? The images it contained including an elephant captioned "incredible to see", which it might have been if you could actually see it had critics competing to find the most withering panoply of putdowns. That the book's existence owes more to its creator's genes than his genius seems indisputable. A young Annie Leibovitz he is not. It's emblematic of an age where celebrity is increasingly hereditary, where fame passes from parent to child (see also: the Law, Collins and Gallagher clans). Perhaps though, celebrity is simply reflecting the rest of society. For a report published yesterday by the Social Mobility Commission argued that the hand you're dealt at birth still determines how you're likely to fare in life.

As anyone following the careers of John Inverdale or Zac Goldsmith can attest to, meritocracy is a myth. Wellpaid careers remain elitist. Three in 10 children are classified as poor a share that has risen since the recession. But don't worry! Give it another 120 years, and disadvantaged teens will be as likely as their wealthier counterparts to get A-levels.

Whenever I hear someone say that another person has a chip on their shoulder about class, education or wealth, I wish they'd think about what created and fed that chip. Public life isn't short of those in jobs they're hugely underqualified for.

What private schools seem to instil in pupils above all is extreme self-belief, even when it's wholly unjustified. And yet, others seem to drink that Kool-Aid.

It's difficult, too, to know the (often mad) rules of the club. Education Secretary Justine Greening recently revealed she was overlooked for a banking job because she ordered in English at an Italian restaurant.

The privileged often don't recognise how kind life's lottery has been to them, either. Mini-Beckham, talking about playing football like his father, once claimed he had "to work harder than every single person" to prove himself. …

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