The wrong hypocrisy, the right internship


Poor old Nick Clegg - nothing seems to be going right for him these days.

It is, of course, totally illogical that just because he and many of his colleagues benefited from a leg up in their careers, he is not in a position to highlight how internships inhibit social mobility.

This is a category error in relation to the concept of hypocrisy.  As David Runciman pointed out in his book on the subject (Political Hypocrisy, which he presented at the RSA), we should not worry so much about the hypocrisy which seems to obsess the media (see this morning’s newspapers). This is the gap between what people say and how they may have acted; for how else could we have aspirations to improve ourselves and the world?. Instead, we should focus on the hypocrisy of justifying actions by using a dishonest argument - for example, saying a reform is to promote fairness when its authors and champions know it is actually to save money.

In the light of statistics showing how many working class families are going to lose out due to tax and benefit changes, and in recognition of the fact that the best way to promote social mobility is to reduce social inequality (because you have less far to travel in more equal societies), it is the credibility of a Government that espouses social mobility while apparently adversely affecting the life chances of the poor that might be a better subject of scrutiny than whether Nick Clegg happened to work in a Finnish bank in his 20s.

All of this is by way of justifying a bit of boasting. On internship, the RSA can now proudly claim to be a beacon of best practice.

Here are the principles of our internship policy:

• We're looking for diversity in background, age as well as thinking styles i.e. not just graduates.

• We're after people who have a great attitude, in spite of perhaps a lack of experience and skills.

• We're flexible and we want to offer opportunity to people who need to work part-time or who are on benefits.

• We want to offer on the job training where possible.

• We want to continue a relationship with interns after the internship and help them find a job that's suitable for them.

• And, last but not least, we’ll pay the London Living Wage.

We currently have two internship vacancies, in our Connected Communities and Citizen Power projects.  We’re waiting to hear from you …

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