James Caan gets off to a poor start as the new social mobility Czar
Many of you are probably aware that in 2010 Alan Milburn was appointed the ‘social mobility czar’. Indeed, he produced a rather good , impressively comprehensive report on social mobility, We also have Simon Hughes MP , who is the ‘access czar’ .Hughes has a lower profile. The two roles, self-evidently, overlap. Confusingly now, James Caan, the entrepreneur, who used to be on TV in the Dragons Den, was ,this week, also given the title ‘social mobility czar’ by Nick Clegg. Quite why the term ‘Czar ‘is routinely used without any sense of irony, and is common currency, is lost on me. Were the Czars known for their commitment to education and social mobility? One doesn’t need to be Simon Schama to know that the Czars first priority was probably not an unwavering commitment to increasing the life opportunities of the most disadvantaged . Does this matter? Yes, it probably does. Words and language in politics not only provide literal meaning ,they convey a mind-set, an attitude, a mood, a set of values and context. So ,the term Czar has no utility and should pass into history.
James Caan, spent his first media interview arguing that parents shouldn’t give their offspring a helping hand in the workplace. The highly successful Pakistan-born businessman warned of the dangers of helping out one’s children too readily. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Caan said it was important to “let the child stand on his own two feet” and not assist them finding a job until “the child has tried everything”. He explained: “You are trying to develop your child too; you don’t want them to feel as though they don’t have to make the effort.”
Some might agree. But, and its quite a big ‘ but’, Caan has apparently helped at least one of his own daughters to find employment .Caan’s younger daughter, Hanah, has no fewer than three roles within his business and charitable empire. It also transpired that his elder daughter, Jemma, now works for a recruitment company in which Caan invests,( though that came after four years of post-university work elsewhere). So it looks very much as if Caan might be a do as I say, not do as I do kind of guy, so maybe not the right person to lead on social mobility, fine businessman though he may be. Or am I missing something? And what do Alan Milburn and Simon Hughes have to say about it all? And whats so deeply depressing about all this is that politicians still seem to think this approach makes a difference. What has happened to evidence led policy? This is all presentation and no substance and the presentation isnt up to much!. Cue, Clegg and others distancing themselves from Caan.
In a statement on his website, Caan insisted he believed parents should “encourage their children to explore their own opportunities and define themselves in their own right”. He added: “The fact is that parents will always have the innate feeling to help their children into jobs. I’m no different.”