The traditional left and right leaders have been drawn from the same pool of universities and institutions. In France they’re the Enarques and Polytech alumnis but every country has its choice institutions and schools that offer networking opportunities, highways into political and public-administrative careers.
They’ve been trained to think alike. I should say we, because like many FT readers, I received higher education from such an institution and until recently couldn’t and didn’t see the problem. But it is our lack of differentiation, our in-bred consensus that now is largely unconscious. The center-left and center-right political elite are, for all their ideological differences, practically exactly alike.
What needs to happen is to stop sourcing so many people from these sausage factories and recruit political talent from other sources. I’d say that the Moroccan-born Islamic mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb and London’s Sadiq Khan are good examples of proper center-left administrators. Both worked their way out of lower middle classes, both have an exterior view of the elite, both manage to combine moderate Islam with modernity, both are true social-democrats and neither graduated from institutions that drilled them in the elite mindset. Plus they both have a positive outlook and a positivist foundation.
It’s not going to solve the myriad problems we now face, but at least we’ll face them more inclusively, with better senses and more sense.