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The adults have left the room

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As I was growing up, a job was something you were paid to do because it involved making something work. That something could be anything from making a column of figures add up to making a power station work, from making a farm work to making a pullover work as an item of clothing. Everything from a bus route to a brick kiln to a bar to a breakwater. It was all essentially practical.

Things have changed. A number of factors appear to be responsible for the change and one of them may be the expansion of university education. Over recent decades this has inserted immature student politics into dominant positions within national politics and the media. It appears to be driven by two key factors –

  • The rise in number of people with a university degree.
  • Economic growth and the expansion of feckless middle class politics.

Added together, these two factors appear to have landed us with a huge number of influential middle class professionals who are not equipped to make things work because they have not really outgrown their student politics.

Strident demands that everything must be pulled up and begun anew, reliance on ideology over practical experience, identity politics, environmental radicalism, political intransigence and a consequent rise in political intolerance and outright malice. These are the consequences.

Articulate but essentially immature people have huge influence in the media, politics, celebrity culture and the wider promotion of cultural immaturity. This is the striking thing about the public arena – its lack of maturity. Immaturity is inherently intolerant and what we see developing now is widespread institutional intolerance.

We saw a tragic lack of genuine maturity during the coronavirus debacle. A time for leadership, ferociously difficult decisions and an almost wartime level of responsibility. It didn’t happen. There were no adults in the room.


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