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Donald Dewar Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
David Whitton's reading
Dewar remembrance book
Reading by the late first minister's official spokesman David Whitton, taken from Equality, written in 1931 by Richard Henry Tawney, a profesor at the London School of Economics.

David Whitton: "Donald's choice in Personal Touch 30/11/97.

"A programme in which people are asked to choose two pieces of writing which have moulded their thinking.

"He introduced it by saying: 'It is perhaps a little old-fashioned but its essence is shamingly relevant today.'

"So the middle classes acquiesced in sharp distinctions of wealth and power, provided that as individuals they were free to scale the heights.

"The upper classes were glad to be reinforced by individuals of means and influence who sprang from below, provided as a class they remained on their eminence.

"They were not seriously disturbed by the spectre of Lazarus in the house of the Lord, or indeed in the House of Lords, for they were confident he would behave like a gentleman in his new surroundings, would ascribe his translation to his own thrift, independence and piety, would denounce the failings of beggars, would be an admirable illustration of a society in which even the humblest could climb to ease and affluence, and would acquire a reputation for philanthropy for himself and his order by his generosity in financing supplies of cold water for the economically damned.

"It is possible that intelligent tadpoles reconcile themselves to the inconvenience of their position that, though most of them will live and die as tadpoles and nothing more.

"The more fortunate of the species will one day shed their tails, distend their mouths and stomachs, hop nimbly onto dry land and croak addresses to their former friends on the virtues by means of which/ tadpoles of character and capacity can rise to be frogs.

"This conception of society may be described perhaps as the tadpole philosophy since the consolation which it offers for social evils consists in the statement that exceptional individuals can succeed in evading them.

"Donald then said: 'If we look at our society, the tadpole philosophy is a very, very real threat, and I can see it indeed in parts of my constituency where people of real capacity don't make it simply because hope and expectation is snuffed out, and if there is one theme which I think ought to be the mark of any government in this day and age it should be the fight against social exclusion and I hope that would be a benchmark against which people would measure policy.'"

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