Inequality and Labour….
It’s quite clear that the Conservatives are desperate to take-on Labour on its ‘home turf’. Conservative Home is gleeful at the latest report by The National Equality Panel into inequality which finds that;
Britain is now one of the world’s most divided countries with children born into a wealthy family having far more advantages than those who are not.
Meanwhile, Left Foot Forward reports on yesterdays Save The Children report into child poverty which is similarly bad news for the government. So, things are obviously not going according to plan. Even Brendan Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary, told the Daily Telegraph that;
while inequality “took hold” in the 1980s “even in recent years the best that can be said is that it hasn’t got any worse”.
What can Labour do? The National Equality Panel report suggests a variety of policy areas to look at including; education, pensions, taxes and neighbourhood renewal. Added to these should be wages, industrial and environmental policies alongside those that tackle gender and racial inequalities. Getting the policy right is one thing but it is something of a ‘cart-before-horse’; policy after-all flows from perspective.
Therefore the fundamentally shift has to be in underpinning ethos away from the managerial and Blairite approach which seeks to tackle inequality through legislation and target-setting back to one that saw it as being part and parcel of a radical committment to changing the structure of society. Rising inequality is really not the failure of state action as the Conservatives would have us believe but the failure of managerialism over an ideological approach.
The two different approaches lead logically to two different kinds of state action; mangerialism leads to tinkering and target-setting and ideological leads to fundamentally seeing the structure as the problem and altering it as the solution. Labour junked, in Clause IV, a committment to the latter in favour of the former however, the weakness of this approach is rather cruelly exposed by these two seperate reports.