Inequality and Social Mobility

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 12th June 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Conservative, Putney 5:37 pm, 12th June 2019

The debate seems to pose a false choice to the House. We do not have to choose between a Britain with social justice and a Britain with social mobility, and the Leader of the Opposition is fundamentally wrong-headed to suggest that we do. It is disgraceful that a modern Labour party has sought to ditch the objective of our country achieving social mobility. Yes, people absolutely want a route out of poverty, but they also want a route up. There is no point in getting them out of poverty if, when they find the ladder to an improved life, they cannot climb up it.

I want to talk a little about how we can bring real system change to our country, and how we can have more thoughtful solutions, instead of the politicisation of opportunity that I fear the Labour party is about to attempt. Social mobility has characterised my life. It is absolutely vital that this country makes the best use of its most important resource—its people. I care about that so much that I walked away from Cabinet to focus, in my time as an MP, on my community, and on driving and campaigning on this issue more broadly across our country.

The Opposition are patently wrong to attempt to portray social mobility as a narrow term that is about a gifted few making it to the top. That simply misunderstands any well-known or conventional definition of “social mobility”. Social mobility is about achieving equality for all and the system change—in our Government, politics and communities, and in corporate Britain—to facilitate that, with the underlying view that we will only do our best as a country when we unlock the talents of all our people, not just some.

I understand that Labour might want to criticise some policies, which is of course the practice of politics, but it is fundamentally wrong—I absolutely object to this—that in doing so the Opposition seek to ditch the entire objective of tackling weak social mobility in our country. That is plain wrong and fundamentally anti-aspiration. The Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn is simply engaged in prioritising class warfare over aspiration. That is absolutely wrong.