Milburn accepts Government role
Former Labour cabinet minister Alan Milburn is to make a surprise return to front-line politics as an independent reviewer on social mobility for the new coalition Government, it was announced.
The appointment was confirmed by a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who leads for the Government on issues of social mobility.
In his new role, which is unpaid, Mr Milburn will look at how the policies of major institutions - including the professions, business and government - are contributing towards the goal of a more socially mobile society.
Mr Clegg, who made the appointment, will set out further details in a speech later this week.
However, Mr Milburn faced an angry backlash from former Labour colleagues, with former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott branding him a "collaborator".
Mr Milburn is the latest prominent Labour figure to be taken on by the new coalition Government in an advisory role.
Another former cabinet minister, John (now Lord) Hutton, is conducting a review of public sector pensions, while backbencher Frank Field is devising a strategy for tackling poverty. Another Labour MP, Graham Allen, is heading a commission on early intervention looking at how to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds the best start in life.
Mr Milburn's appointment drew a particularly bitter response from former Labour MPs who accused him of giving political cover to the coalition.
Lord Prescott wrote on his Twitter page: "So after Field & Hutton, Milburn becomes the 3rd collaborator. They collaborated to get Brown OUT. Now collaborating to keep Cameron IN."
Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham accused Mr Milburn of putting his own interests before those of the people he represented before standing down as an MP at the election in May. He said: "Alan Milburn is putting his ego and his own social mobility above the people he used to represent, the very people who will be hit hardest by the Con Dems' brutal cuts to public services. None of us loyal card-carrying members would provide a Labour gloss to the damage this Con Dem government is inflicting."