Tag Archives: Labour

The glass ceiling casts a long shadow

It would be naive to assume that those long-despised invisible barriers which push some to society’s top and others to its bottom have been broken. But for some reason the issue has come to a head this week in three different areas.

Alan Milburn attacked the ‘poison’ of our class system in a progress report on social mobility published this week. Many desirable professions are accused of recruiting a high proportion of privately educated staff and of choosing new recruits based on connections rather than purely merit, according to the report. Wheeling out the over-used glass ceiling analogy Milburn said: “The glass ceiling has been scratched but not broken.”

The BBC took a less touchy-feely approach in its publication of new research on women in the workplace. The stats on the proportion of women in top jobs are grim and the BBC did nothing to soften them with its winning headline: ‘Are women their own worst enemy when it comes to the top jobs?’. The report was perplexingly uncomplex for my liking; I’m not sure how many people have overcome their own ‘unconscious bias’ by being told to be more confident. Certainly it’s an essential ongoing debate, but some of the more constructive pointers, for example from Cherie Blair, were sidelined by the overbearing headline in my opinion.

Last of all, this week Plan B’s film Ill Manors premiered. It seemed canny that the film, focusing on social unrest and the dark side of east London’s society, was released so close to Milburn’s report Plan B has not admitted to any personal hopes of social change as a result of the film in some interviews.

The three approaches, one from politics, one from broadcasting and another from film, raise more questions than they answer. Perhaps the most important thing they remind us of is the depressing inequalities in the Britain of today. We need to talk about it, but we need to do something too.

The Definitely Not David Cabinet: Gender Representation in Labour’s New Cabinet

The much-awaited revelation of Labour’s shadow cabinet, under the leadership of Ed Milliband (about whom the media and commentators do not seem to have made their mind up about yet, beyond establishing that he’s Definitely Not David), is due to come on Thursday next week. Questions are springing up already: will he pick the most talented contenders for the positions, or go for his (supposedly more left-wing) supporters?; does his standpoint really give favour to Unions?; and, a more back-burner issue, how much of his cabinet will comprise of women?

Time will tell. But, it seems, there are implications involved in each of these questions which will need to be faced in the following months, by all parties, and onwards to the next election.