Peter Hoskin

The Tories should heed Milburn’s warnings

The Tories should heed Milburn's warnings
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There's been a lot of garbage spoken about social mobility in the past few days - almost all of it from the government.  But if Tories need reminding that Alan Milburn - the new social mobility czar - gets it, then they should read his interview with Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester in today's Times.  Here's one particularly striking paragraph:

"Labour's arch-moderniser is not, however, going to limit himself to considering the number of internships at law firms. In his view, the key to social mobility is education, and he has radical plans for reforming the entire schools system. He backs the Tory proposal to allow companies, charities and parent groups to set up their own schools, but he says: 'The Conservatives haven't gone nearly far enough.'"

Now, I'm not saying that the Tories should tremble with fear at Milburn's political swagger.  But they should certainly steel themselves for a renewed fight over public service reform.  As Janet Daley wrote a few days ago, Milburn's commitment to reform now has a chance to seep across government.  And while Michael Gove's thinking on education is certainly robust enough to face a little extra competition, can the same be said of Tory health policy?  We shall see.

P.S. I liked this diplomatic response from Milburn: "When we ask whether he thinks that Mr Brown opposed anything Tony Blair backed, he replies carefully: 'One leader is always better than two.'"  Indeed.