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Nick Clegg’s social mobility

Nick Clegg has made it clear that social mobility is a key part of his political agenda.

He returned to this theme again in his closing speech at the Liberal Democrat conference.

Clegg has also been weaving a modern liberal narrative for sometime. Early on in the conference week, he talked about the rich liberal heritage of the party.

For now, he is arguing that the pupil premium will unblock the barriers to achievement for poor children.

Social mobility could be his modern liberal narrative in action. Mill, a classical liberal, was keen on education for all. He wanted everyone to have the opportunity to reach their potential. And once they had reached it, they would be active citizens in a liberal society. For me that meant individuals running their lives and living as they wish as long as they did no harm to others.

The social liberal wing of the party must surely welcome this government intervention while the classical liberal side can look forward to the children who benefit becoming adults who no longer need the ‘Nanny State’.

If Clegg can establish this modern liberal narrative: a combination of different strands of liberalism and then implement a policy that represents it, he may be able to rebuild the party’s electoral base in time for the next general election.

2 Responses to “Nick Clegg’s social mobility”

  1. Jack Hughes Says:

    How about a different view – that it’s not the government’s job to encourage or discourage “social mobility” or to even talk about it.

  2. Simon Goldie Says:


    It is true that that would be closer to a classical liberal or libertarian position. As I wrote, Clegg is weaving together different strands of liberalism and not offering up one strand. If a Lib Dem leader got up and said something like you suggest I doubt they would be leader for long. Of course, one could argue that it is not for government to engineer social mobility but if people want to argue for it or organise to make it happen that is fine. And perhaps government could do things to allow those people to organise in that way. If Clegg took that position he would perhaps be moving towards Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ and politically, for now, he can’t do that.