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Alan Milburn resigned as chairman of the social mobility commission at the weekend [Image: Richard Gardner/Rex/Shutterstock].

This is damning.

Not only could the Conservative government not name a single proposal by the social mobility commission that had been adopted in the last year, but its representative can’t even get his quotations right.

Sure, the comment originally applied to late US President Gerald Ford was that he couldn’t “walk and chew gum at the same time” – but what Lyndon Johnson actually said was, “Jerry Ford is so dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time.”

Are the members of the minority Conservative government able to match that feat?

Doubtful.

The government has defended its commitment to improving social mobility for the most disadvantaged people, despite the resignation of the social mobility commission board, but ministers struggled to name any proposals recommended by the body that had been adopted in the past year.

In an urgent parliamentary question triggered by the resignations, the minister for children and families, Robert Goodwill, insisted the government would appoint a new board and continue to work to improve social mobility.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, secured an urgent question on the decision of the former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn, the former Conservative education secretary Baroness Gillian Shephard and two other board members to resign in protest at the lack of progress towards a “fairer Britain”.

Pointing out that “geographical division in Britain is more extreme than in any other country in Europe”, Cable echoed concerns expressed by Milburn in his resignation letter and warned that “Brexit is sucking the life out of government”, making it impossible for officials to focus on important long-term goals such as improving the life chances for the most disadvantaged.

Goodwill replied: “Whilst Brexit is an important priority of this government, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We are committed to improving this process of improving social mobility for everyone in this country.”

Source: Ministers defend record on social mobility but can’t name policies | Society | The Guardian


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