Alan Milburn, the government's paradoxically named ‘social mobility tsar’, last week released the first annual report of his Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. The findings are not surprising: inequality is getting worse; the government will miss its child poverty targets by up to two million; 275,000 more children are now in absolute poverty, two-thirds of them in working households; youth unemployment is at a 20-year high. The report concludes: We see a danger that social mobility, having risen in the middle of the last century then flatlined in the end, could go into reverse in the first part of this century.
Stephen Sedley, Francis FitzGibbon and Joanna Biggs have written in the LRB about 'the radical changes currently being made to the legal aid system' and the government's proposals 'to undermine judicial review by starving claimants of legal aid on several fronts'.
Mid-April, and Britain attends to the 5 May referendum on the Alternative Vote with all the rapture of a gutted cod. Voters will be asked: ‘At present, the UK uses the “first past the post” system to to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the “alternative vote” system be used instead?’ This version of the question is a redraft, made at the Electoral Commission’s bidding. When the government published the original, one-sentence version last year, which rendered MPs in unabbreviated form, the commission worried that people would be too thick to understand it. Now campaigners merely worry that people are too thick to understand AV itself.