Invited Student Lecture given by Danny Dorling at Ruskin College, Oxford, October 19th, 2016, Introduced by Parveen Alam.

We could talk about health care:
We are currently experiencing the worse health and social care crisis the UK has faced at any time since 1940. Mortality rates of elderly people are rising across the UK. The older you are, and the frailer you are, the worse off you now are as compared to 2010. Very soon we will begin to see the release of data showing that David Cameron was the first post-war British Prime Minster to govern the UK in such a way that life expectancies fell under his watch. A small influenza outbreak in 2015 played a minor part in the rise in deaths. The major part was the result of the post 2010 cuts in health and especially social care funding across the UK.

Or we could talk about housing:
The housing crisis is resulting in a return to mass private renting with almost no protection of tenants’ rights and little understanding of what rights tenants should have. This has resulted in the rise in private renting becoming the main reason more families are becoming homeless, because they are evicted when their landlord raises the rent and they cannot pay it. The numbers of people and families renting privately is rising at an exponential rate. If good rent regulation were introduced that rise would be slowed down and existing tenants would be better protected. The housing market is current highly precarious, partly as a result of landlords speculating on through their property ‘investments’.

But let’s talk mostly about education today…
And begin with a letter in the Guardian: ‘The intellectual and political case for selection has collapsed. So it is now appropriate to ask how the continuation of existing selection arrangements – in 163 grammar schools and a number of selective authorities – can be defended. It has been demonstrated beyond argument that less able children do worse and able children do no better in selective areas compared to non-selective ones, and it is almost always “ordinary, working-class children” who lose out.’
However, that is often as far as we go. We need to begin asking whether that alone is enough or whether we need to be much more imaginative rather than simply attacking attempts to return us to the past – so let’s talk about what a better future might look like and how the balance between service and profit should be altered if we are to achieve that better future.