Ministers fail to name a single social mobility policy while trying to defend their record

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?


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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  1. Barry Davies December 6, 2017 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Social mobility is a pie in the sky wish list, for everyone upwards mobile there is an equal and opposite reaction of one going downwards, like communism, which it is a variation of, it only works on paper.

    • Mike Sivier December 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      Not true. A prosperous country has more people who are comfortably well-off than poor, and there’s no need for anybody to become poor just to balance the numbers.

  2. Ann Ford December 6, 2017 at 11:30 am - Reply

    The only social mobility this government is committed to is a downward one. They are the party for the 1% and will protect them at the cost of everyone else. This is shameful in 2017.

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