on 26 July 2004
This is truly an amazing biography of Michael Young: possibly the greatest influence on postwar Social thinking and policy in the UK. I only found out about this biography from a very fitting BBC Newsnight tribute on the day of Micheal Young's death.
This is not an uncritical biography but certainly tells us about the remarkable achievements of Lord Young, from his days at the LSE, the inestimatable contribution to 1945 Labour Party Manifesto that shaped the Welfare State, through to his work in founding The Consumers Association and presenting the case for Social Entrepreneurship that forms a lot of the Third Way.
This is also not just a list of achiements. The context is set very firmly. We hear of his lifelong battle with asthma and also the extraordinary details of Lord Young's family.
Michael Young's achievements are his best tribute, but I wish more people knew about such a significant figure who figures in our daily life
on 20 September 2008
Michael Young is truly one of the most inspiring and original thinkers of the centre-left in Britain, and not just a thinker, but a do-er. Why this man isnt a household name, but as the old Chinese quote goes - something alone the lines of 'And as for the best leaders, the people say they did it themselves'.
Young wrote Labour's 1945 election manifesto, played a part in setting up The Consumer Association and Open University, and contributed towards the development of ideas on 'civic entrepreneurship' and 'meritocracy'.
This last one is perhaps his greatest achievement. Young gave the modern age the word 'meritocracy' in a 1958 essay and did not see it as an attractive, emboldening concept. His original concept of 'meritocracy' was a society based on a narrow notion of 'merit' in which the winners - filled with smugness, conceit and status - see their success as validating themselves, and the failures of others - as about their shortcomings.
Young, a centre-left thinker and do-er all his life poses questions Labour and Tory with their meritorous narrow ideas would rather avoid.