Socialist Worker

The truth about Blair's Britain — born poor, stay poor

Issue No. 1949

Class, not individual ability, determines our lives

Class, not individual ability, determines our lives


After eight years of New Labour rule, Britain remains one of the most class divided societies in the world — and things are getting worse. If you are born into poverty, you will almost certainly live and die in poverty.

A new report by the Centre for Economic Performance has found that Britain has one of the developed world’s lowest levels of “social mobility”. It is much worse here than in the five other European countries studied.

The report found that children from poor backgrounds go to poorly funded schools and are less likely to continue their studies. This dramatically limits children’s ability to find better paid employment. And the expansion of university education in the 1980s and 1990s has benefited the wealthiest far more than the poorest.

The proportion of people from the wealthiest 20 percent getting a degree during that time rose from 20 percent to 47 percent, while from the poorest 20 percent it rose from 6 percent to 9 percent.

The report found that, far from becoming more equal, social mobility has fallen over the last 50 years. Those born in 1970 are more likely to be in the same wealth bracket as their parents than those born in 1958. The report blows apart all of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s talk of extending “opportunity for the many”.

Oliur Rahman, Respect councillor and parliamentary candidate for Poplar & Canning Town, told Socialist Worker, “We have to look at why our young people are not achieving what they should be achieving.

“Children from poorer backgrounds find it impossible to go to university because of New Labour’s tuition fees and top-up fees. So it’s no surprise to find that children born into poor families tend to remain poor. That’s certainly true in the council ward I represent in the East End of London, one of the poorest in the country.

“It’s not because children in this area aren’t bright enough. New Labour denies them the chance to live up to their potential. They simply don’t have the opportunities they deserve.

“The report also shows that the situation is getting worse, not better. Respect is completely opposed to student fees. We want to give children the future they deserve. We want to reverse privatisation.

“New Labour’s policies bring companies, which are only interested in profits, into schools at the expense of our children’s education. That would end under Respect.”


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Sat 30 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1949
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