This is a two-part post, the two parts of which are connected only in that they both involve Chris - the proprietor of Stumbling and Mumbling - though to different degrees, and in that I can fit each part under the rubric of 'splitting the difference'.
Part 1. PaulinLancs thinks that both Chris and I have missed the point on the question of whether social background matters in the process of political representation. He thinks we've missed the point because we're 'focusing on agency to the exclusion of structure'. I wasn't. I was saying no more than that the character of the agents you have in place as political representatives can make a difference to political outcomes. I neither said nor implied, as Paul suggests I did, that 'parliamentary representatives can more or less do what they want'. Of course they can't. Structures matter. But, on the other hand, so do agents, whose actions can have different effects within a given structure and can indeed be instrumental in changing a structure so that it turns into another kind of structure. My response to Paul, therefore, is that one should split the difference between agency and structure. No viable social explanation can do without either.
If I'm not mistaken Paul's criticism of Chris and me recalls a criticism Nicos Poulantzas directed against Ralph Miliband for his The State in Capitalist Society. I might in fact be mistaken, because I don't intend going back to Poulantzas's work to check. One of the advantages of getting older is that, knowing that time is limited, you find it easier not to set aside any for certain things that would be unwelcome to you.
Part 2. Chris, for his part, has decided to split the difference between me and Owen Jones on the question of whether 'with a bit of a shove - the whole edifice [of wealth and power] could shatter.' Leaving aside how Chris finds in my favour on this question, his arguments on Owen's side of it are that the foundations of hierarchical capitalism could be weakening and that we could, accordingly, see a long slow transformation leading away from it. I don't know how likely the hypothesis is, I must confess, but it was no part of what I wrote to argue that it wasn't likely; because that is not how I understood Owen's phrase about the whole edifice shattering with a bit of a shove, and I contend that those words of his don't suggest the idea of a long slow transformation. As the only thing I expressed scepticism about was the 'shattering' scenario, I don't believe Chris has genuinely split the difference here. He's given reasons, rather, for doubting exactly what I doubted.