The entire board of the government’s Social Mobility Commission has resigned in protest over Theresa May’s abject failure to deliver on her promise to address the “burning injustice” of inequality.
On Sunday (December 3), the Social Mobility Commission board quit en masse, including Tory former cabinet minister Baroness Shephard.
Ministers attempted to defend their record on social mobility yesterday, but could not name a single policy they have enacted to encourage progress.
The commission’s chairman Alan Milburn explained the resignations were because there was “no chance” of progressing the fight against poverty and inequality under the current government.
It was a humiliating blow for May, who promised to fight “burning injustices” and make “a fairer Britain” during her first speech as Prime Minister in 2016.
Milburn said, “The worst position in politics is to set out a proposition that you’re going to heal social divisions and then do nothing about it.
“The Prime Minister has said a lot about her desire to improve social mobility. Talking the talk is all very well, but you also need to walk the walk. I see precisely no chance of making progress.”
In a stinging rebuke to May’s shambolic handling of the Brexit process, Milburn said the government is overwhelmed by leaving the EU and does not have “the necessary bandwith to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality”.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said it was “no surprise” that the Social Mobility Commission had resigned.
“The Tories have presided over an unfair system that has widened inequality and stopped social mobility. The combined effects of increasing poverty, austerity cuts, falling wages and rising prices mean that talent and determination are no longer the deciding factors for how a person gets on in life,” Turner said.
“Now it’s all about who you know and where you come from, while for too many others its insecure work in the gig economy or on a zero-hour contract. So it’s no surprise the Social Mobility Commission has resigned – it says it all when even the commission’s Tory grandee Baroness Shephard walks out.”
Turner also blasted May’s mishandling of the Brexit negotiations.
He said, “Even if Theresa May’s pledge to deal with the ‘burning injustices’ of our society were not just empty rhetoric, the Prime Minister is a zombie leader paralysed by Brexit.
“Instead of dealing with the inequality that helped prompt the vote to leave the EU, she is being led by a hard-right band of ideologues who wish to increase it by turning post-Brexit Britain into a low-tax low-regulation haven that only serves the needs of the few.”
Shadow work and pension secretary Debbie Abrahams called for May to step aside and allow a Labour government to tackle the root causes of Britain’s glaring inequalities.
She said, “The Prime Minister should stand aside, and let Labour deliver a £10 an hour minimum wage, end zero hour contracts, transform our social security system and build the genuinely affordable homes Britain needs.”