New Labour came into power with a host of promises they were going to fulfil. We have seen them fail in many specific areas; health, industry, education, and so on. But one of the overriding ambitions of New Labour was to increase social mobility. Here, they have failed spectacularly.
New labour pledged to break down the age-old barriers within our education system and labour markets, meaning that that anybody could achieve anything they set their mind to in Britain. But through all the spin and policy mismanagement, that final goal seems to have been forgotten, and we are now in worse situation than in 1997.
Jeff Randall has written a damning critique of New Labour's social mobility schemes here. The evidence is clear: social mobility has declined in the last decade. This is in conjunction with a deepening ‘poverty trap’, creating a cycle where families and communities are continually punished by government meddling in the labour market and the welfare state.
By interfering with education, creating low-income quotas for universities, abolishing grammar schools, and ‘dumbing-down’ public exams, the government has only managed to punish high achievers and create false success and disincentives to work for others. This cannot continue. What incentives do students have to study and improve themselves if they know they can pass exams with a minimal score? Such dumbing-down of education soon leads to a dumbing-down of society.
This is an example of what happens to society at large, and to the average family, when governments focus on image, perception and spin, rather than reality.