Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Leave Rory Weal Alone


Rory Weal is the 16 year old boy who spoke at the Labour conference two days ago and is now being attacked in the press, in blogs and on Twitter for his speech and his circumstances. Rory said:
"I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state ." He said this because his family had hit hard times and had to rely on the welfare state to get through.

At first Rory received praise for giving a speech at his age. Then, in true British style, he was villified mercilessly because the press found out that Rory used to go to a private school and lived in a very expensive home and now goes to a Grammar school.

I am going to stand up for Rory because in my previous blog post I said I would speak up on child issues (but even I didn't realise that it would be to defend another child who speaks at conferences). I was featured in The Observer magazine on 11 Sept in an article titled 'Spot the Future Prime Minister' along with other Liberal Youth. The youth from Labour and the Tories were featured too and Rory is in the magazine.

I don't know where to start because I have so much to say. Firstly, does a child have to come from an underprivileged background to go into politics? Rory was telling the truth as his situation is now. The family lost their wealth. He is a true example of how the welfare system should work i.e someone who has lost their job through no fault of their own then depends on the welfare system to help them get back on their feet.

Rory gave the impression that he came from a disadvantaged background when he spoke about using the welfare system. Why do middle class people always get attacked when they talk about a working class situation? Social mobility usually means to move up in the class system but people forget that social mobility also means that people can move down. This is what happened to Rory by the looks of it.

I believe him when he says that the family struggled financially. He may not have been poor but when has poverty been a requirement to speak about politics? Private schooling is used as a weapon to beat people away from the world of politics. I go to a private school but remember children don't have a choice of where they go. I don't want to be ridiculed for going to a private school.

Also, not every child who goes to private school will end up ruling the country and not every child who goes to a comprehensive will end up unemployable. The riots showed that there is an overlap. Children from rich backgrounds and private schools rioted too. Where you went to school should not be a barrier to a child's future. This whole wealth creation debate forgets that the middle class is growing. The middle class covers a whole load of people. It is the largest layer in society.

Also, I can't understand why a capitalist country (UK) always ridicules the symbols of capitalism like private choices over schools. It is as if we want capitalism but only in a way that suits our political ideology.

In summary, leave Rory alone. During the riots people spoke about the useless young who don't do anything. When a young person does they are thrown to the wolves. Stop.
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1 comment

  1. I agree largely that it doesn't matter that he was rich when they fell on hard times. I agree, that the welfare system is there for all.

    My only criticism is that he made it seem like he still needs EMA in order to go to school and for text books etc now even though his family's financial situation has improved and they now live in a £300,000 house. Most people would be lucky to live in that kinda house.

    He also owns an iPad which a lot of people not on welfare can't afford. If he bought it through welfare payments then you can understand why people would be annoyed.

    To be honest, this is why I think EMA was right to be scrapped and concentrated on those who really need it.

    I'm not trying to attack him, I'm trying to hold him to account for what he says and does like I would everybody else including those who rioted.

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