British Foreign Secretary William Hague says Britain has experienced a “disturbing” decline in social mobility over the past three decades.
On Thursday, Hague blamed the education system for the shortcomings, saying that Education Secretary Michael Gove is tackling them.
“The disturbing thing, I would say, is that in the 30-odd years since I was at a comprehensive school, it probably in those intervening decades will have become a bit harder for somebody from a comprehensive school to become the Foreign Secretary, or whatever position they aspire to,” he said.
Hague added, “That reflects on a long period of this country falling too far behind in the world in state education, and thankfully we now have the best Education Secretary in living memory – or longer – who is trying to put that right.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron conceded earlier this week that there was insufficient social mobility in British society because people who are not white and middle class lack the “aspiration” to make it into top jobs.
According to the UK government’s social mobility adviser, problems of inequality are “decades in the making.”
Alan Milburn further noted that social mobility would most likely worsen in Britain since economic growth does not tally with the wages of most employees.
“The shocking lack of social mobility is entrenched in British society. There is a glass ceiling in British society – and more and more people are hitting it. Whether it is law or medicine or journalism or politics, the upper echelons of Britain are dominated by social elite,” he said.
Milburn added, “One-third of MPs, half of senior doctors and over two-thirds of high court judges all hail from the private schools that educate just 7% of our country’s children.”
“Economic recovery is unlikely to halt the trend of the last decade, where the top part of society prospers and the bottom part stagnates. A recovery that sees national wealth rise might be an economic success but if earnings fall it will be a social failure,” he warned.