UK Politics

Social mobility 'still a problem in UK', says Cameron

Image caption Sir John Major said the privately educated wield a "shocking" level of influence on public life

More needs to be done to get people who are not white and middle class into top jobs, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister suggested the government needed to "get out there and find people, win them over, get them to raise aspirations".

It comes after Sir John Major described the dominance of the privately educated in public life as "truly shocking".

Mr Cameron, who went to Eton then Oxford, was speaking to reporters on a flight to India.

He said he agreed with Sir John's comments earlier this week, which were interpreted by some as an attack on the backgrounds of the prime minister's team.

More than half the current cabinet were educated privately.

Mr Cameron said he welcomed the debate started by his predecessor as Conservative prime minister, but acknowledged there was still "not as much social mobility as there needs to be".

He told journalists he wanted to see a Britain where "no matter where you come from, what god you worship, the colour of your skin, what community you belong to", people should be able to "get to the top" in the media, judiciary, armed services and politics.

"We are making some progress in those areas," he said. "But it is not fast enough and we need to go further and faster."

He added that he wanted to do more than merely "make changes and sit back".

"Just opening the door and saying 'we are in favour of equality of opportunity', that's not enough.

"You've got to get out there and find people, win them over, get them to raise aspirations, get them to think they can get all the way to the top."

Labour criticised the remarks, accusing the prime minister of "locking out opportunity for the next generation and only standing up only for a privileged few".

But Alan Milburn - one of the party's former cabinet ministers, now an adviser to the coalition - said "flat-lining mobility" had been "decades in the making".

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