Guardian letters - 04 August 2009
For centuries this country has drawn on the ranks of the privileged when recruiting to top positions – only casting the net more widely when the demands of either empire or industry could not be met from the favoured source. Thus the increase in social mobility following the second world war was a direct consequence of post-war industrialisation, the technical demands of the cold war, the emergence of IT and so on.
Though social mobility appears to have been on the wane for 25 years or so, we seem only recently to have woken up to the fact. Could it be that there is some sort of link with the widespread loss of confidence in financial services, together with a growing awareness that, in responding to climate change, we face a scientific and engineering challenge of enormous magnitude?
I think we might see social mobility increase again, but I don't think it will owe much to Alan Milburn's report, however well-intentioned.