Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

David Cameron intern row proves it's not what you know...

David Cameron says he's "very relaxed" about the idea of internships. So relaxed, in fact, he is giving the son of his next door neighbour a wee unpaid job - which is nice: "In the modern world, of course you're always going to have internships and interns - people who come and help in your office who come through all sorts of contacts, friendly, political, whatever."

Which is very fortunate for those of us who happen to live next door to prime ministers. But if you don't, hard cheddar.

You can cut it this way and that, but the fact is - and Cameron freely admits it - that internships give a leg up to those who really don't need any more help, thank you very much.

Could a poor - nay, even an 'ordinary' - kid get a job at Downing Street? Dream on. But then again it's a bit of a non-question because just how many parents could afford to support little Jessica or Myles for a few years while they gallivant about 'making contacts'?

In other words, it helps concentrate power in the hands of the already powerful. And that's not right. After all, even if Mr Cameron's neighbour's son doesn't carve a wee niche for himself in Downing Street, it's still a pretty impressive thing for the old CV as he attempts to forge a career in the City or diplomatic service. Certainly beats 'worked in local cornershop on Saturdays'.

It's all very well for the PM to warble on about the 'Big Society' but internships are an early lesson in proving that in this world it ain't what you know, it's who you know that really matters in the end. And no one should be "very relaxed" about that.

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