Tag Archives: inequality

Inequality “narrows” due to Liberal Democrat policies

imageAn interesting report (£)  in the Sunday Times yesterday tells how official figures show that the gap between the richest and poorest is narrowing.

While most people have suffered a squeeze on incomes since Britain was plunged into recession six years ago — and only now is the economy getting back to pre-crisis levels — those on lower incomes have done relatively better than those at the top. Households Below Average Income, an official report published last week, showed income inequality, measured after taking into account housing costs, had fallen to

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Opinion: Let’s rid our political economy of inequalities of power

LIBOR-fixing, ineffective banks, corrupt Parliamentarians and the Murdoch press may not appear to have much in common with the fact that median earnings have become decoupled from growth in economic productivity – signifying rewards accumulating to a few at the very top. To my eyes, however, they are all symptoms of the same phenomenon: that the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few, hidden from adequate scrutiny and the power to affect change, impinges on our freedom to live lives free from poverty, ignorance and conformity.

To any liberal with a …

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4 graphs on Thatcher’s legacy: a richer but more unequal nation.

A generation on, the Thatcher legacy continues to provoke and divide. One of the questions it poses for liberals is one this government is still wrestling with: does inequality matter if everyone’s getting richer?

Margaret Thatcher’s answer was that it did not — as she famously illustrated in one of her last Commons performances in response to a question from Simon Hughes:

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Lord Greaves writes…We must do more for wage-earners below income tax threshold

I have tabled an oral question in the Lords to ask the government what measures they will take to ensure that wage-earners who are below the income tax threshold will benefit from any future increases in the personal allowance.

In a little-noticed debate last September the Liberal Democrat conference debated social and economic inequality. Inequality, the conference decided in the obscure language motion-writers use, “is an obstacle to individuals determining their own destinies and reduces aspirations”.

The resolution also, equally clumsily, said that inequality “prevents talent from fulfilling its potential to the detriment of the economy and society”. And, more accessibly, that …

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Opinion: Monetary policy is political, so where’s the democracy?

We are in extraordinary economic times, which have led to extraordinary measures from the Bank of England in its attempt to help steer us out of the storm. The Bank appears to be terrified at the prospect of deflation and the depressive effect it could have. Not only have base interest rates been pinned to a historical low of 0.5% for well over three years, the Bank has also used Quantitative Easing to pump £325 billion of newly created money into the economy.

We now know more about the effect that QE is having and it should send shivers down the …

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Labour’s stance on high pay leaves the ball firmly in Vince Cable’s court

The appearance of cross-party consensus in politics usually makes me welcoming and wary in equal measure – welcoming as it signals a weakening of the fierce discord between political tribes, wary because the sheen of consensus often betrays a deep underlying suspicion of the ability of any party to take on the challenges they face.

Excessive remuneration appears to be the latest issue on which the three main parties appear to agree – it apparently unites the hitherto unlikely trio of Vince Cable, Ed Miliband and, latterly it seems, David Cameron around the recognition that extremes of …

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Opinion: a need for equality? Yes, but short lists aren’t the way to achieve this

As much debate about party funding and selection rumbles on, the issue of increasing diversity amongst MPs continues to hover in the background.

I would never deny that the under-representation of women or people from BME backgrounds needs to be addressed, however there is a much more pressing diversity issue, that of diversity of social class and occupational background.

Parliament is currently overrepresented by those who have been researchers, Special Advisors and lobbyists. To give some context to this statement: the House of Commons research library reported in 2010 that 14% of the current intake of MPs have worked previously in political …

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How does your income compare to everyone else?

Having written about income inequality in the UK earlier in the week, here is an international perspective: www.globalrichlist.com, which lets you put your own income into a global perspective. Ready your decimal places and tap away…

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British inequality continues its post-2005 rise

This week the OECD published its latest analysis of inequality in the UK, including (another) graph in which 1997 is not a turning point but rather this time 2005:

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How much do the richest 1% in the UK receive?

Here, courtesy of the Centre for Economic Performance, is how the share of income going to the richest 1% has changed since the start of the last century:

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What does the public think about income inequality?

Here, courtesy of the latest British Social Attitudes survey (published last year) is the answer:

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LibLink: Simon Hughes – Profits must no longer go to the few at the top

Over the weekend, Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Simon Hughes, penned a piece for the Guardian’s Comment Is Free site arguing that Britain needs to become a more equal place both in terms of the distribution of wealth and of opportunity.

Here’s a sample:

We must now focus on the redistribution of wealth. But this will not succeed by means of greater hand-outs. Financial benefits must seek to engage people positively. The redistribution of hope and opportunity means the redistribution as well as the creation of work. Co-operative and mutual businesses and social enterprise should be prioritised. The private sector, like the public

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How does The Spirit Level withstand a critic?

The success of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s The Spirit Level (reviewed here in August) in setting the terms for much political discussion unsurprisingly triggered a burst of publications taking a sceptical look at their case. Prime amongst these is Policy Exchange’s publication Beware False Prophets, by Peter Saunders, whose title gives you a fair clue as to its line.

As the book says on its back cover:

In The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett claimed that egalitarian societies benefit rich and poor alike. Crime rates are lower, infant mortality is reduced, obesity is less prevalent, education

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Book review: The Spirit Level – Why equality is better for everyone by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett

Although first published under a Labour government in 2009, this book is still highly relevant now we have a Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition. In fact, it is even more relevant because the current political and economic circumstances are forcing Liberal Democrats to think carefully about how much we are worried about inequality of outcome. Wilkinson and Pickett argue that widespread inequality helps increase a huge range of social ills, with the result that everyone suffers – even the most well off. Inequality in their view isn’t just bad for the poor, it’s also bad for the rich.

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Daily View 2×2: 11 February 2010

Well, let’s see. First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. Then it was February 11th and time for Daily View, on this, Canadian actor Leslie Nielson’s birthday.

He shares the date with the Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner, and Caribou Barbie, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Other notable occurrences today include the death of Sylvia Plath in 1963 and the début of Julia Child’s US TV show The French Chef in 1963. If you’ve never seen it before, go see Julia making omelettes.

2 Cheerful Stories

British Retail’s “irreversible downward spiral”

The Guardian has news that some British towns and cities have so many empty shops they may never recover:

Many of Britain’s towns and cities are suffering from such huge shop vacancy rates that they risk becoming ghost towns, wiping hundreds of millions of pounds off property values, a study revealed yesterday.

Cities such as Wolverhampton and Bradford, where nearly a quarter of shops lie empty, could be on an irreversible downward spiral as a result of the financial crisis. The research by the Local Data Company shows retail vacancy rates across Britain rose 2% in the past six months of last year to 12%, with some towns seeing as much as 24% of its shops lying empty.

“As much as 24%” ? What’s wrong with “Almost a quarter” ?

Oh, and NB, the photo in the story is my home city Nottingham. I’m not sure where it was taken, but it’s not really typical of the city.

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    Don't forget many British people do in fact aquire another nationality-Australian, Canadian etc. Often our best and brightest.
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    Lord Smith of Kelvin and The Long Grass ??? http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Smith,_Baron_Smith_of_Kelvin