Alan Milburn’s resignation letter revealed more than the government’s inability to build a ‘fair’ Britain

Alan Milburn
Support us and go ad-free

Former Labour minister Alan Milburn has announced his resignation as chair of the government’s Social Mobility Commission. It was accompanied by the resignation of three other commissioners, including former Conservative education secretary Gillian Shephard. And Milburn’s resignation letter reveals more than the government’s inability to build a ‘fair‘ Britain .


In just one sentence, Milburn delivered an extraordinary take down of the government on social mobility:

It is understandably focused on Brexit and does not seem to have the necessary bandwidth to ensure that the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality.

Theresa May pledged to make it her “mission” to address the “burning injustices” in British society when she became Prime Minister. But a report by the Resolution Foundation forecasts the biggest rise in inequality since the 1980s. Child poverty is at its highest level since 2010. And the Institutue of Fiscal Studies (IFS) predicts it will reach record numbers over the next five years, reversing all progress made in the last two decades.

Milburn also said that the government:

seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation.

BBC political correspondent Jonathan Blake said of the resignations:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

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.

Brexit. Progress?

Milburn’s comments shine a light on the government’s management of Brexit. He suggests that it is devoting all of its resources to Brexit while neglecting its duty of care for citizens. You might be forgiven for thinking Brexit is therefore going well.

But the government has yet to clarify how it intends to resolve the Irish border issue and has repeatedly downplayed its difficulty since the Brexit referendum. Now it is clear that unless it clarifies how it will resolve the problem satisfactorily, Ireland can stop Brexit talks from continuing. With the might of the European Union backing the country’s decision.

Then there is the predicted public backlash at the reported £50bn Brexit divorce bill. And the minister in charge of Brexit negotiations, David Davis, has “mentally checked out” according to a Conservative minister.

Dereliction of duty

The resignation of Milburn and his three commissioner colleagues is a damning verdict on the government’s failure on social mobility. And Milburn’s resignation letter also inadvertently highlights how badly the Conservatives are managing Brexit. On top of this the NHS is in crisis and the economy is projected to grow at its worst levels since 1983. With this latest crisis engulfing the government, if the EU is right, we may well see a government collapse before long.

Get Involved!

Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via Flickr / Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed