It is always dangerous to make reference to a book if you haven't read or understood it. This is a lesson Peter Wilby might have pondered before writing an article mentioning 'The Rise of the Meritocracy' by Michael Young, describing it, no less, as 'much misunderstood', and then writing an article about education policy including sentences like "Upward social mobility needs to be matched by at least some downward mobility if we are to have a true meritocracy", or "[a balanced intake] would raise standards at all levels and avoid creating schools, so common in urban areas, that have a preponderance of low-ability and unmotivated children, dragging down the few bright classmates they have as well as depressing their own ambitions. Labour MPs hope this will open a road to something resembling true meritocracy."
For those, like Peter Wilby, who haven't read (or have read, but not understood, though it isn't awfully difficult) the Rise of the Meritocracy, it is well worth a look. I don't think it spoils it to reveal that Michael Young's view is that meritocracy is, in fact, a Bad Thing, and the idea that social mobility is related to a true meritocracy is one which he would have found unutterably silly, and is, indeed, is one which he specifically demolished in the book.
Next week, Peter Wilby references George Orwell's 'much misunderstood 1984' to argue that the government has a duty to tackle the threats to our security posed by Eurasia and Emmanuel Goldstein.