News: Beware Moral Smugness

Added Wednesday 10th October 2012

An hour is a long time in morality. There I was, saying all the usual things about the factory fire in Karachi: callous employers, indifferent or corrupt safety inspections, little regard for the weak and powerless. And then the Hillsborough news broke: callous club owners, indifferent safety inspections, little regard for the working class Northerner and then a massive establishment cover-up which encompassed the police, emergency services, the Coroner’s Court; and who knows how high it went in a Government which, after Derek Hatton, hated everything Liverpool and, after the Miner's strike, everything Northern.

So the first moral lesson is not to be smug when we read about the failings of other societies which are less developed or less caring, in our eyes. Secondly, we must always be careful of quietism, of thinking that what we have is pretty good.

Sandwiched between the two disasters there was an OECD report that says that the UK has the most divisive education system in the OECD which confines the poorest children to cramped, below standard schools when we know that the only chance of human fulfilment and social mobility for the least advantaged lies in the education system. Therefore, thirdly, if we really aren't' prepared to pay more taxes to attain a greater degree of social justice, the least we can do is to campaign for a better deal for schools which might actually mean abridging the charitable status of so-called public schools unless they do more for the poor.