Boris Johnson is not a good role model for children, says the government’s social mobility czar
Boris Johnson is not a good role model for children, according to the government’s own social mobility czar.
Katharine Birbalsingh, chair of the Social Mobility Commission since 2021, suggested the Prime Minister’s personal life made him “raise an eyebrow” and also wondered if he looked “professional” enough.
While Ms Birbalsingh said she didn’t know all the details of the Partygate scandal that destabilized Mr Johnson’s premiership, she added: ‘It kind of makes you pause and go, hmm , Hmm.
“I would definitely never be able to stand him up and say, ‘Be like him’. I couldn’t do that,” she told Sky News.
His remarks come after Mr Johnson narrowly survived a vote of no confidence, as 41 per cent of his own MPs voted against him amid deep anger at his handling of the No 10 Party allegations during the Covid restrictions.
Asked directly if Mr Johnson was a good role model for children, Ms Birbalsingh, head teacher and co-founder of Michaela Community School in Wembley, London, replied: ‘No, I don’t think so.
“I don’t know. I wish he was, but he’s not,” she said. “And that’s kind of sad.
“But I can’t go into the ins and outs because I don’t know enough. People say, ‘Should he be here? Shouldn’t he be there? I do not know.
“I like Boris, I don’t think he’s a villain. I don’t know enough about what he does, but I don’t think he’s a good role model for kids.
Pressed to expand, Ms Birbalsingh said: “Well, his personal life – for example. This makes me raise an eyebrow.
“His hair. When I say his hair, we have strict rules at school. The other day I saw a picture of him in the Subway and I looked at his hair and I thought, ‘Oh, my God’. We expect our children to have professional looking hair”.
“You might think that’s a bit pedantic and a bit silly, but it’s not. I think for our kids it’s important to look professional.
The Social Mobility Commission headed by Ms. Birbalsingh is an independent statutory body and is responsible for publishing annual reports on the country’s progress in improving social mobility.
Trying to defend the Prime Minister on Sky News, Schools Minister Robin Walker said Ms Birbalsingh was ‘entitled to her opinion’ but suggested that anyone who leads the country is a role model ‘for children to look up to “.
“The Prime Minister has shown phenomenal resilience through the Covid pandemic and his leadership and I think that is something children should learn and understand in schools,” he added.
“He’s also a great communicator and one of the things we seem to teach in all of our schools is communication and literacy through speech and language.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought he was a good role model for children, a spokesman for No 10 later said: ‘I obviously won’t go into individual comments.
“The Prime Minister is focusing on what you heard in his speech yesterday. He set out the government’s priorities for growing the economy, tackling the cost of living which is putting pressure on households across the country, of NHS funding to clear the backlog, to make our streets safer.
“Yesterday you saw the Prime Minister making announcements to make it easier for people to get on the housing ladder.”
“The public can see where the Prime Minister’s attention is focused,” they added.