Where we\’re about to get a new law:
One cabinet member described it with relish as "socialism in one clause".
Socialism. Worked so well everywhere else it\’s been tried, eh?
The government will create a new over-arching law creating a duty on the whole public sector to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. This single legal duty will stand as the main frame from which all other equality legislation flows. Race, gender and disability injustices are all subsets of the one great inequality – class. It trumps them all. The gap between rich and poor in Britain is greater than in almost all rich nations, putting the UK with the United States among the most unequal.
Sadly there\’s an appalling mish mash of ideas in there. One of the defining things about the English (which is indeed different from the British) class system is that it isn\’t defined by either income or wealth. So to argue that we\’ll close class divisions by equalising either income or wealth is absurd.
If you want to talk about purely income or wealth, go ahead. But then you\’ve got to understand something else odd about the UK. We\’ve, compared to other countries, got huge regional variation in incomes. To pluck a couple of stats from memory, median female white collar wages in the NE are 60% lower than they are in London (might be 60% of, can\’t remember). London wages are 140% of national median.
But so also do living costs vary greatly around the country. If you use purely the national statistics you might say that someone on £14,000 is in poverty (that\’s 60% of the national median of 23k or so). But that does very much depend. What\’s the local price level? That number in London certainly doesn\’t go far. But what about Cumbria say (just an example). And can we really say that 14k in an expensive part of the country is the same poverty as that same income in a cheap one?
Well, no, we can\’t. And that\’s a problem, for the UK economy is dominated by the high wage high cost area of London (it\’s 10 million people, 15% of the entire population!) in a way that few other countries are so dominated by one city of region.
Insisting that the gap between rich and poor is closed might, to a certain mindset, be a noble aspiration. But if you\’re going to ignore the regional differences in the UK economy then you\’re going to cause disaster while you attempt to do so.