David Blackburn

Labour is no longer the party of social mobility

Labour is no longer the party of social mobility
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Social mobility is emotive and I imagine that Alan Milburn is livid that his report was ignored by its commissioners, the government. That it was swept under the carpet is unsurprising, for Milburn’s conclusion confirms Labour’s failure: ‘Social mobility has slowed down in our country. Birth, not worth, has become more and more a determinant of people's life chances.’

Rather than renew Labour’s commitment to the poor, Milburn, who grew up on a council estate and attended a comprehensive, has had to watch Lord Mandelson, the grandson of a Foreign Secretary and educated at a grammar school and Oxford, confer responsibility for Labour’s failure to universities. Jeff Randall’s impassioned piece in today’s Telegraph characterises the decline:

 “No matter which way progressive educationalists spin it, the horror before them is unavoidable. Despite abolishing grammar schools, dumbing down GCSEs and A-levels (to create the illusion of rising standards in state schools)...bullying our best universities into accepting state-school students with below-par grades, social mobility is in retreat.“

The government’s refusal to acknowledge its failure, its fat-headed denial of facts and its arrogance in not even considering the recommendations of those who diverge from its conceited hymn sheet has created an unmissable opportunity for the Tories to become the party of social mobility. As Randall puts it:

"He will not have a better opportunity to win over traditional Labour voters than by showing them how he can help their children escape from schools for losers. If he lacks the will to admit that grammar schools did more for working-class children than a thousand free school meals, he should at least promise to reintroduce with unambiguous rigour the standards, discipline and ambition that grammars delivered for people like me.”