According to Wikipedia, Julie Burchill is an English writer and columnist “known for her provocative comments”. Well, in this case we're not so sure about “provocative”: we think it's all pretty sensible. Here she is writing just before Christmas about the student protests in the Independent ...
Every conflict at some point produces a photograph which seems to sum up what a thousand words of journalism couldn't. The nine-year-old girl fleeing a South Vietnamese napalm attack which showed how wrong American involvement in the Vietnam war was. The toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein which showed how right American involvement in the Iraq war was. The erection of the hammer and sickle over the Reichstag which finally gave the Master Race notice to lay down its arms and open its heart to the Red Army.
And now, that pampered, pompadoured ponce of a poltroon, swinging from the Union flag on the Cenotaph.
Charlie Gilmour's father is an old Etonian poet; his stepfather a superannuated rock star worth around £78m whose most famous ditty insisted, somewhat amusingly under the circs, that "We don't need no education." The creature himself has been on the books of Select Model Management and has – quelle surprise! – tried his soft white hand at journalism, writing music reviews for the Guardian.
And here is this vile body, more Beau Brummel than Che Guevara, talking about the reward Mummy and Uncle-Daddy gave him for being a good little soldier and getting into Big School: "I've always loved good-quality clothing. My parents said that if I got into Cambridge, they would buy me a Savile Row suit. They made me two suits – a single-breasted day suit and a slim-cut dinner suit, which is useful, as there are all sorts of feasts and formal occasions at Cambridge."
The cherry on the festive cake is that Gilmour is a history student who didn't know what the Cenotaph was. What do you bet he thought “The Glorious Dead” was the name of a band?
Make no mistake, this was not a foot-soldier of the wretched of the Earth rioting in defence of his survival – this was the spawn of privilege and entitlement rioting in defence of his privilege and entitlement. Since even the tiny bit of social mobility there was in this country came to a halt, the young rich have seen areas previously open to bright working-class youth become as mindlessly theirs as a trust fund. The Word magazine noted recently that – while fewer than one in 10 British children attends a fee-paying school – 60 per cent of rock music chart acts are now ex-public school, compared with one per cent 20 years ago.
And on top of this, the public-school educated children of millionaires believe that it is their right to have their educations funded by those who leave school at 16!
Well, I didn't go to university but almost everyone I know did, and with no exceptions whatsoever I honestly cannot see what the point was. They were all qualified and equipped for the positions they hold when they left school - the three years spent at university were just three years of boozing and bullshitting funded by the taxes of people who had the actual gumption to remove themselves from the playpen of education and get a job as soon as legally possible.
In a belated reaction to this fact, the accountancy firm Deloitte plans to start hiring school-leavers rather than graduates from next year, as businesses become convinced that university degrees are worthless. University-educated hacks are forever banging on about how dreadful it is that all young people today want is to become famous on reality TV shows, but in a society where all the interesting jobs automatically go to the dreary spawn of the bourgeoisie, it's often the only option. The print unions were pilloried for passing on jobs through the generations, but we now see it in media, music, acting and modelling.
Meanwhile, many non-U universities have effectively become holding centres where poorly educated teenagers can prolong the school experience for another three years, staving off the long years in the call centre pondering on exactly what doors their 2:2 in Media Studies was supposed to open for them. The clever working-class youth of this country has been socially and spiritually "kettled" - hemmed in, suffocated and stifled - since the year dot by the privilege and entitlement of Charlie Gilmour and his ilk. And they have sustained a great deal more damage than a smashed mobile phone, as I believe the poor little oofums did.
Gilmour and his gaggle are part of the problem, not part of the solution, and the sooner these natural-born dunces recognise that and step away from a higher education that seems highly unlikely to alter their state of ignorant bliss, thus leaving the resources involved to the clever and poor amongst our student body, the better.
Swing on THAT, you useless brat!
The GOS says: Here, bloody here! (Or 'Hear, bloody hear!' if you prefer. I went to university too, you know).
What puzzles me is why people think we should be paying for kids to be trained in stuff we don't need and don't want. If they want to be engineers or physicists, fine – we need those, so let's pay for them to be trained.
But how exactly do we have a deep-felt need for experts in media studies or knitting (no, I'm quite serious, Brighton University has courses in knitting. They don't call it knitting, but that's what it is, nevertheless)?
I'll grant you that some arty-farty types like musicians and actors and dancers are quite ... well, not useful exactly, but they do fulfil a rôle which society should not be without. Let's not forget that in the 1980s music earned more foreign currency for Britain than the steel industry. However in my experience young people who want to do those things will learn them anyway. They don't need to go to university to do it (my own 1960s degree was in music; the course at one of the more prestigious universities was almost totally useless and the lecturers appalling. I became a tolerably good musician despite my education, not because of it).
So I imagine that aspiring knitters can, if they want it enough, acquire their woolsmanship skills without the help of the taxpayer. Just think how much money we could save if we closed all the university departments offering useless courses to semi-illiterates. Trouble is, what to do with hundreds of out-of-work lecturers in cultural semantics, 14th Century counterpoint or macramé? The state already supports far too many work-shy scroungers making little or no contribution to society.
By the way, back when I was at university there were only one-third the number of students there are today. University education was seen as a privilege, not a right.
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