Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, December 08, 2017

Social Mobility in the UK

It appears that inequality in the UK, like that in the USA, is growing, and that government efforts to stem the growing divide are now a political issue. Has it always been so?

Social mobility board quits over lack of progress
All four members of the board of the government's Social Mobility Commission have 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.

The government was too focused on Brexit to deal with the issue, he said.

The government said Mr Milburn's term had come to an end and it had already decided to get some "fresh blood" in.

The commission is charged with monitoring the government's progress in "freeing children from poverty and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential"…

In a report published last week, the commission said economic, social and local divisions laid bare by the Brexit vote needed to be addressed to prevent a rise in far right or hard left extremism…

The process of appointing a new chairperson and commissioners would begin as soon as possible, [the government] added…

Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said the resignations came as "no surprise".

"As inequality has grown under the Tories, social mobility has totally stalled," he said.

"How well people do in life is still based on class background rather than on talent or effort."

Analysis by BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake

Sour grapes? Political point scoring?

Neither, according to the former Labour minister and his colleagues on the board who include a former Conservative education secretary.

Their frustration demonstrates the extent to which Brexit is all-consuming for the government.

Leaving the EU is taking up so much time, energy and effort that there is little capacity for anything else to get done.

Even on an issue which is a personal priority for the prime minister.

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