John Denham on inequality
The Guardian’s report on what John Denham was due to say at the Fabian launch of their new work on inequality stirred up the blog equivalent of a hornets’ nest. But when he came to actually deliver his speech, he said something rather different – as Sunder points out.
Unfortunately more people read the Guardian than the blogs where the debate is now more nuanced, and John Denham is no doubt now to be saddled as an opponent of equality.
But actually reading John’s words made me think how well they chimed with the recent TUC Touchstone on Middle Income Britain.
The conclusion I drew from Stewart Lansley’s work there was that Labour had confused equality with the relief of poverty. The government does have a story to tell about providing help for those at the bottom – at least those in work. Where it falls down is that it has stood by as the gap between those in the middle and those at the top has grown.
It is not surprising if those in the middle feel alienated from talk of equality when they are ignored in the debate. And as John says it’s about more than tax and benefits:
… we’re not as clear as we could be about others drivers of inequality. Unfairness in the workplace, including rights at work. Unfairness in the distribution of economic power
It seems to me the implications of John’s speech are not that Labour should raise the white flag, but if it is serious about reducing inequality it needs much more radical policies.