'We're in a country where class matters': David Lammy points to the merits of affirmative action

25 July 2023, 14:26

David Lammy comments on the merits of affirmative action

By Alice Bourne

David Lammy asked listeners to look at the FTSE 100, even public sector firms and realise that “on the whole they come from middle class background and on the whole they go to private schools.”

As Slaughter & May seeks out more working-class lawyers David Lammy broached the subject of affirmative action telling listeners: “My children aren’t living a working-class life, they’re absolutely living a middle-class life and opportunities they’ve got I certainly never had.”

Slaughter and May has become the first major law firm to set Social Mobility targets, backed by a comprehensive action plan. The targets aim to increase the representation of lower socio-economic backgrounds individuals.

He continued: "We're in a country where class matters...

“This question of class and background holding people back in this country…if you look at the FTSE 100 companies and look at who their CEOs are, even when you go to the public sector and look at their CEO’s backgrounds.

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“Look at who the permanent secretaries are of our civil service, look at who our judges are that make decisions on behalf of the government- on the whole, they come from a middle-class background, and on the whole, they go to private schools.”

Explaining the reason for this David said: “Their parents have paid a lot of money to get them that education, if they haven’t they are living in the best catchment areas- their parents are jumping through hoops to get them into certain kinds of very elite faith schools to get them those opportunities.”

He then recalled “challenging Oxbridge a few years ago on who gets to go” because “at the time there were more people with the last name Smith than afro Caribbean names.”

“But,” he continued, “it was a lot worst when you looked at social class… the Burroughs of Barnet and Richmond, Burroughs with very good grammar schools, were sending more young people to Oxbridge than the entirety of Sheffield Leeds and Birmingham combined- that was how class and geography was working in this country.”

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