White working class boys left behind because of 'negative impact' of focus on ethnic minorities and women, Labour's Angela Rayner claims

Jack Maidment
Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary - PA

White working class boys are being left behind because of the “negative impact” of a focus on ethnic minorities and women, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet has said.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said cultural change is needed among Britain’s white working class to encourage more young people to strive to succeed.

She told The Spectator magazine white working class boys had been left “at the bottom of the heap”.

She said: “The culture towards migrant families towards education is considerably different to the culture of British families, that’s something I’ve noticed.  

“I’m from a white working class background, our culture – and I think that’s why white working class boys aren’t doing so well at the moment.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

“The UCAS tables have them literally at the bottom of the heap.”

She continued: “I think it’s because as we’ve tried to deal with some of the issues around race and women’s agendas, around tackling some of the discrimination that’s there, it has actually had a negative impact on the food chain for white working [class] boys.

“They have not been able to adapt. Culturally, we are not telling them that they need to learn and they need to aspire.”

Ms Rayner, who left school without qualifications after becoming pregnant at 16, said there was a "lag" in achievement by white working class pupils and that more support was needed to help them make a success of their lives.

Ms Rayner, tipped as a potential future leader of the Labour Party, said her own experience of support from the welfare state and further education after leaving school showed the benefits of investing in people who might otherwise be written off.

Profile | Angela Rayner

“I would have been seen as a scrounger, a scally unlikely to make anything of my life," she said.

"But without those interventions ... I wouldn't now be a taxpayer who pays their way in life, no longer on any benefits. Sometimes you have to invest in people to get the best out of them. To me, that is socialism. That is why I'm a Labour member rather than a Conservative."

Despite her rise from humble beginnings to near the top of the political ladder, Ms Rayner said she was still looked down upon by some at Westminster.

She said: "In this place, some people do that. And I think: well, you look down at me at your peril, mate. Because I'll just eat you alive."

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