Social mobility? Forget it

“The board of the government’s Social Mobility Commission has stood down in protest at the lack of progress towards a “fairer Britain”.

Ex-Labour minister Alan Milburn, who chairs the commission, said he had “little hope” the current government could make the “necessary progress”.
Tory former cabinet minister Baroness Shephard is among three others to quit.

In a resignation letter first reported by the Observer, Mr Milburn said ministers were preoccupied with Brexit.

He said that meant the government “does not have the necessary bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality”.
Mr Milburn added: “It seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation.”

He took up his role with the commission, which monitors progress towards improving social mobility in the UK, and promotes social mobility in England, in July 2012.

‘Unable to commit’

The resignations come as Theresa May, who entered Downing Street in July 2016 promising to tackle the “burning injustices” that hold back poorer people, faces questions over the future of senior minister Damian Green – who is effectively her second in command – and is under pressure as Brexit talks continue.

In his resignation letter addressed to Mrs May, Mr Milburn said he was standing down with “much sadness” and was “deeply proud of the work the commission has done”.

He said: “All the main political parties now espouse a Britain that is less elitist and more equal, while growing numbers of employers, universities, colleges, schools and councils have developed a shared determination to create a level playing field of opportunity in our country.”

Mr Milburn added: “Individual ministers such as the secretary of state for education have shown a deep commitment to the issue.

“But it has become obvious that the government as a whole is unable to commit the same level of support…

“I do not doubt your personal belief in social justice, but I see little evidence of that being translated into meaningful action.”

One thought on “Social mobility? Forget it

  1. The board were being EXTREMELY kind when they said ‘the government “does not have the necessary bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality”’.

    The issue, IMO, is really that they don’t have the bandwidth. This phrase would suggest that they were seriously trying but failing.

    Unfortunately the evidence is that this government is more interested in increasing the divide – between rich and poor, between the SE and the rest of the country, between the healthy and the less healthy, between their favoured constituencies and the constituencies they don’t care about, between those that can influence what happens and the ever increasing number of people whose views are ignored.

    Indeed, I read recently that the government is telling its MPs to present a nicer face to the public. It seems that even the Conservative leadership now recognise that the Tories are seen as the “Nasty Party” and they have to now have to have a charm-offensive to attempt to persuade us otherwise.

    It seems to me that the real reason for mass resignations is that the board members see that they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving an greater fairness in our society with a government who is determined cuts in services (health, social care, education) for those who cannot afford to pay privately, and to make tax cuts for the rich who can afford to pay privately.

    And it would appear that at least some of the Conservatives on the Board, such as Baroness Shephard, see it that way too.


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