With a population of 65 million people, it comes as no surprise that the citizens of Britain have a number of racial, economic and cultural differences. With those differences, we are introduced to a number of issues such as segregation, privilege and prejudice. Not only can they perpetuate social stigmas, they can potentially be lethal as well.
Classism is defined as prejudice or discrimination on the basis of social class and it exists in all aspects of British society, from the entertainment industry to the workplace. The media fails to portray members of the working class in positive light and shows like Little Britain and Benefit Streets enforce the stereotype that those belonging of the working class as lazy tax leeches who are unwilling to find employment as they receive benefits. It is especially prominent within education and the working class population suffers as a result.
Firstly, universities do a poor job at admitting students in public education and only six of the top universities in the U.K. meet the admissions target. Although only 7% of British students are enrolled in private schools, they make up 55% of the intake at Oxbridge. Not only do state school pupils receive less than 50% of the admission offers, pupils from the poorest families are four times less likely to go on to an elite university and they are half as likely to receive adequate GCSE grades.This flawed system prevents the less privileged from reaching their full potential, hence why most major politicians, businessmen and famous actors were enrolled in private education.
On Jun. 14, 2017, a fire broke out at Grenfell tower in London; it was estimated that at least eighty lives had been taken from the fire and seventy people were injured. While this was initially viewed as an unexpected tragedy for many, Prime Minister Theresa May and Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council came under fire following concerns for fire safety. The twenty-four storey flat was built without any additional emergency exits apart from the one on the ground floor and there were no sprinklers inside or outside of the building. It is also ironic how Grenfell tower, which housed mostly immigrants and asylum seekers, was based in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the richest boroughs in England, and containing some of the world’s most expensive homes. The borough has one of the highest gaps between the rich and the poor. The council invested less than £40 million in council housing despite collecting £55 million in rent. Families were forced to sleep on the floors of local centers four days after the fire and many suffered psychological damage. Although the public donated £18.9 million to the survivors of Grenfell Tower, they have only received £2.8 million. More than £11 million of these donations are still in the banks of these charitable appeals, and on Jun. 15, Metropolitan Police announced that a criminal investigation had been opened to establish if any charges were to be brought onto the council for corporate manslaughter in terms of gross neglect.
Sadly, that does nothing to reverse the harm of the victims. The point that I am trying to get across is that social inequality within Britain is as prominent as racism and if no movement is made to address the issue and help the socially disadvantaged gain the equal opportunities of their privileged counterparts, it is not unlikely that an event like Grenfell would take place once again.