Senior figures in the Labour Party and the trade union movement have been reacting today to the news that Alan Milburn is the latest former Labour minister to take up a role in the coalition government. He follows in the footsteps of John Hutton and Frank Field, who had both taken up positions earlier in the summer.
Milburn will advise the government on social mobility.
Update: Andy Burnham has been interviewed by ITN over Alan Milburn’s decision whilst in the North East:
Speaking to Sky News this morning, leadership contender Andy Burnham said:
“I think I speak for thousands of Labour party members in saying it would be a kick in the teeth for them were he to accept, but mainly it would be to give unjustified legitimacy to a government which in my view is already chocking off the life chances of young people and with its cuts is threatening to throw social mobility in reverse, and that would be my main message to Alan Milburn today.”
“He was part of a Labour government which in my view did great work to improve the life chances of young people up and down our country. And what we are seeing now is this Con-Dem government threatening to put all of that at risk, and no Labour member in my view should add legitimacy to that government.”
On Twitter this morning, John Prescott added Milburn to his list of “collaborators”, saying:
“So after Field & Hutton, Milburn becomes the 3rd collaborator. They collaborated to get Brown OUT. Now collaborating to keep Cameron IN”
And Unite Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley, also speaking to Sky this morning, said:
“There’s no doubt it is a problem, and I think Mr Milburn along with Mr Hutton will be incredibly comfortable working with the Tories if I may say so….we’re seeing the lunacy of our public sector workers being decimated, millions more people who are going to be on the dole and have to travel and find work right across the UK and Northern Ireland. And it doesn’t have to be this way.”