Natasha Feroze, Robert Ades, Lucasta Miller, Sam McPhail, Toby Young and Catriona Olding

38 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud: Natasha Feroze reports on the return of ex-Labour MP Keith Vaz (1:10); Robert Ades presents the case against sociology A-level (7:39); Lucasta Miller reviews Katherine Bucknell’s book, Christopher Isherwood Inside Out (15:24); Sam McPhail provides his notes on the lager Madri (23:16); Toby Young explains why he will be voting Reform (26:23); and, Catriona Olding reflects on love and friendship (31:17). Presented by Patrick Gibbons.  

The great sociology con

My default mood at the moment is bleak despair, although it can sometimes be triggered into nihilistic loathing, which I think I mildly prefer. The most recent occasion this happened was last Monday when I drove through torrential rain to three retail parks in search of an item which – as I found out later – didn’t actually exist. While turning the car around to drive home I switched on the radio and Stephen Fry was bashfully admitting to some fawning sap of an interviewer how bloody brilliant he was. Triggered, right there, at the roundabout where you enter the old coal-mining village of Pity Me. It took ages for

Social mobility has become a meaningless mantra

‘Whatever your background,’ Margaret Thatcher told the Sun’s readers in 1983, she was determined that ‘you have a chance to climb to the top’. So, too, Tony Blair in 2004 (‘I want to see social mobility a dominant factor of British life’), David Cameron in 2015 (‘Britain has the lowest social mobility in the developed world — we cannot accept that’) and Theresa May in 2016 (‘I want Britain to be a place where advantage is based on merit not privilege’). Put another way, for the best part of four decades equality of outcome was largely on the back burner; equality of opportunity was, at least in theory, the name