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.


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About darrellgoodliffe


3 responses to “Inequality and Labour….”

  1. mommsen says :


    I’m not a socialist. I never was one. But this never meant ignoring the negative effects which the economic policies of the 1980s, the 1990s and the first decade of our century have produced for people with low income, especially in countries like Germany, but not only there.

    You’re absolutely right that politicians should do more with regard to wages, industrial and environmental policies now. The problem is that they probably can’t.

    Big business lobbyists have too much influence now. They have influence in Germany and in Britain.However, in Brussels they have even more influence than in any individual EU member state.

    Why are they so powerful in Brussels?

    There are two reasons for this: on the one hand Brussels is the place where the decisions which really matter are made; and on the other hand it’s also the place where democracy and transparency are rather absent.

    For lobbyists it’s much easier to manipulate the process of law-making in Brussels than doing the same at home.

    In former times progressives fought for democratic institutions and for more democracy and more transparency.

    However, in recent years Labour and the LibDems have fought for the current EU of the Lisbon Treaty. The same is true for most progressive parties in Germany and France.

    I’m wondering: What went wrong with those progressives?

    Now, don’t let me be misunderstood. I’m not anti-European. I’m a Europhile, but at the same time I am against the EU which we have now.

    Soon there will be elections in the UK. In Germany we also had elections last year.

    During the German campaign, none of the political parties in Germany talked about the economic issues which really matter today. Or maybe they did talk about them, but then they never admitted that national politicians would not really be able to change economic policies after the elections on a national level.

    Even before the Lisbon Treaty came into force, these policies could only be changed on a European level.

    It’s true that thirty years ago politicians were still responsible for the guidelines of their economic policies. But these days are gone.

    Now the economic guidelines of the Lisbon Treaty are mandatory for all politicians on all levels: on the national level and on the European level too.

    Could it be that some citizens are not aware of this?

    Could it be that they are overestimating the importance of national elections now?

    Could it be that they still believe in the existence of liberal-democratic institutions at home whereas in the real world of politics these institutions have already lost their political power?

    The power has been shifted from national parliaments to Brussels.
    And in Brussels they don’t really care what the voters would say.

    Why should they? It’s not the approval of the voters you need when you want to become a European commissioner.


  2. mommsen says :


    Unfortunately, it’s me again. I think I really should write less comments here. But I’ve just thought I should come back to add something to my previous comment.

    There was an excellent article in the Guardian today:

    Please let me quote what one of the Guardian’s readers wrote: “We don’t live in a two party system, when will the general public wake up to the fact that Britain is not America. It doesn’t have to be blue or red.”

    I agree. It’s not a two party system. But it’s also not a three party system. It has become a one party system dominated by New Labour and Blue Labour, but these are only clans. I think that my previous comment has tried to explain why this is so.


  3. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I understand why you would say that given the connotations in Germany.

    I agree about the influence of big business and lobbyists which as you rightly say is too widespread. Thank you for the comments regarding the German elections which are informative.

    I suspect that I the EU, despite its imperfections and problems, as potentially being a much stronger force for good than you do because I would view the unification of Europe under a EU ‘supra-national’ state that was democratically organised as being a huge progressive leap forward for Europe and its citizens.

    Please do not comment less, your comments are insightful and welcome. Like you say the collapse of a vision of an alternative society has diminished alot of the difference between the major parties; well, certainly blunted the ideological edge to it. However, I think in Labours case you will see a totally different party emerge from the wreckage of New Labour over the coming years….


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