A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why I am proud to be Labour

Because, according to today's OECD report on inequality (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/47/22/41528630.pdf):

"Since 2000, income inequality and poverty have fallen faster in the United Kingdom than in any other OECD country."

Now that's what I call a democratic socialist government.


Blogger Guido Fawkes said...

Are you proud that unemployment is higher now than in 1997?

5:59 pm, October 21, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I a very proud that far more people are employed than in 1997.

George Osbourne the next to sign on ?


6:22 pm, October 21, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Since 2000, income inequality and poverty have fallen faster in the United Kingdom than in any other OECD country."

Well, that just goes to show what rubbish this report is then, doesn't it?

Bearing in mind that income inequality has RISEN in the UK since 2000!

8:24 pm, October 21, 2008

Anonymous Dyanne Costello said...

The latest update on the "metric martyr"

8:33 pm, October 21, 2008

Blogger Baz Cymraeg said...

Of course I could be proud to be Labour. I could be proud that Labour leaders have elevated themselves from the life of poverty that many citizens of the UK still find themselves within. I could be proud that Labour has sought to enrich the wealth of the wealthy. I could be proud that bankers and speculators have increased their own wealth and living standards.

..but I could only be proud if the increased wealth was distributed in fair proportion to the real generators of wealth brought about by the toil of the worker. There is an argument that large financial incentives are required to ensure that the UK captures the talent of the so called "money makers" that in turn will cascade investment, productivity and prosperity for the nation. I have been waiting a long time to see the proof of this argument. If this argument were true, then poverty in the UK should be falling.

The converse argument that fair reward to incentivise the worker to achieve full productivity is never heard from Labour leaders. It is a national disgrace that, in spite of a "national Minimum Wage" too many workers do not earn enough to pay for even the basic needs of food, water, heating, clothing and travel to work costs,(not to mention the costs of regressive taxes paid by the masses according to the inabilty to effectively challenge unfair taxation, and not paid upon the abiltiy to pay) to the extent that government accepts that there is a need to indirectly subsidise miserly employers by paying tax credits to poorly paid workers. If respect and fairness were ever words to be uttered from Labour's lips, then a minimum wage should at the very least be based on a true cost of basic survival without any need to claim benefits or tax credits. However, true value of the individual should be considered if Labour ever dares to utter the words "respect" and fairness."

To my mind, respect and fairness would reflect value to society. I cannot live without food produced by a farm worker. The farm workers contribute in more than an average way to my well being, so why is s/he paid so little, and so greatly below the national average income? - a more than average contributor to my life, but a recipient of a less than average wage. The same is true of the hospital cleaner, who guards my health when I am least able to defend it, and the shop worker who supports me by serving goods to cater for my needs (at least when I can afford to pay for goods and services).

...and whoppeedee that more people in Britain are now working than ever before. There was a time in the history of this nation, that many families could choose for only one member of the household to work, and the other partner to stay at home yet still could afford a roof over their heads, food on the table, fuel, dental treatment, children, local taxes etc.

there is nothing wrong with equality, if the rewards of equality at work are received. Gender equality in the workplace has not entirely resulted in emancipation, but has contributed to an increased abilty by the greedy to charge more for products and services. All other things being equal, "equality" and more people working should have resulted in a greater effective spending power amongst the workers, but the collective increase in worked hours and hence family wages has only given the greedy the abilty to price housing and other goods and services at a higher level than could otherwise be sustained. Logically, if more people are working than ever before, then there is an argument that everyone could be working fewer hours. Collective gross wages might of course be less, but the abilty of the greedy to extort inflated prices from a consequential reduction in gross collective income would be reduced.

Poverty is getting worse, and will continue to do so until individuals are given the respect they deserve, and the abilty to earn fairly. I would expect a government elected by the people to do the job they are supposed to do ...i.e.: represent the people, all of which deserve their respect. If a member of the community contributes in an average way to the rest of the community, then reward them in an average way, for example by allowing that person the average income. If a person performs a little less, then fair enough, pay them a bit less, but not a poverty income. If government policy prevents a person from working in the intersts of the economy (e.g. a flexible workforce needing spare capacity), then pay the value of having flexibilty to the victims of the policy. There is enough money to go round, if it was shared out fairly.

Perhaps I'm naive, perhaps I'm a socialist, but perhaps I'm not proud to be Labour, or a least not proud to be Labour in the form that it manifests itself today.

8:51 pm, October 21, 2008

Anonymous Flithy Rich and Labour said...

If you believe that crap you need locking up Luke. Still your boss Jules Pipes does his best to close the gap on the super rich with a £30,000 1st class junket to Beijing to look at the traffic and some sports

9:13 pm, October 21, 2008

Anonymous Alan Partridge said...

Olympics 2012

It's not just about sport; it's about London.

People scratch a meaningless living in the squalid, scum riddled
hellhole of east London - without joy, without the barest essentials,
without hope.

The Olympics will turn their lives around by building them a nearby

Alan Partridge, Time Out 9-15 October, 2008

9:17 pm, October 21, 2008

Blogger Andy Howell said...

The same report also said that progress had levelled out over recent years. If you look at the annual JR report it will show a similar pattern but they would argue that the gap has started growing again.

Things are not going to get anything but worse over the coming months.

At the heart of this is a serious problem which many poverty watchers are concerned about. We've gone as far as we can go with tax credits.

Even this report suggests there is nothing to be compacent about.

10:12 pm, October 21, 2008

Blogger Hughes Views said...

I agree Luke, this is very good news. It's no surprise that sad fantasists such as Paul Staines are unimpressed nor that some who imagine themselves to be on the hard left also moan. Out there on the fringes of reality they clearly find politics of theory easier than the hard slog of reality. Many of them carp even more at this Labour government than they did when the Tories were in power.

Reducing inequality is a remarkable achievement especially in a free society in which the rich are inevitably more powerful than the poor.

It's also inevitably a slow process which takes even longer to show up in measurements and other indicators.

Well done Labour...

10:13 pm, October 21, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Anon 8.24 on what basis do you think you know more about income distribution in the UK than the OECD? The numbers are there in the report.

Or are you just fed up that one of your pet hates of New Labour has just been undermined?

I'm not sure why this is such a surprise - if unemployment is kept down, a minimum wage introduced, tax credits brought in etc. of course the poor are going to get richer. That was why we had those policies. It was the whole point of electing a Labour government in 1997.

10:57 pm, October 21, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

The problem is that other reports suggest the opposite - including the Government's own progress reports on health inequalities.

The main difficulty is that whilst there has certainly been some progress, the gap between rich and poor has not significantly narrowed.

You only need to come up here and look at some of Liverpool's oiter estates to know that.

But at least the Government have tried - and it isn't an easy task. Ultimately, though, I think that the taxation system remains too flat (and before you ask, our joint income makes us higher rate taxpayers)

11:15 pm, October 21, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

The gap was reduced but the figures also detail that still we have the widest gap between the rich and poor in the whole of the developed world. So the report was very misleading.

Statistics and the way they are reported is very important. I seriously wouldn't start bragging until you've actually had a look at the report rather than just taking the news as it was told. When you do you will clearly notice that the gap has been reduced but we are still the worst country.

If you want to be proud of Labour then you should comment on the smoking ban and the implementation of the Health & Safety Legislation which is saving thousands of lives every year. The one thing that worries me about the conservatives is that there is talk of deregulating our health and safety laws, which will impact on nearly all working people. This is one area which makes me think twice about voting tory is the reality that they could easily send working practices back to the 80s. Labour have done an excellent job at regulating health and safety in the work place and to relax these laws will result in 1000s of workers being injured or killed.

11:15 pm, October 21, 2008

Blogger Baz Cymraeg said...

It could be true that there are folk on the hard left who moan, but more importantly there are many ordinary people, voters, workers, citizens, benefit receipients who do not receive a fair deal, a respectful deal, and have every reason to moan about the poverty they are in through no fault of their own. 'Tis true that the last Tory government has much to answer for with regard to the poverty and injustice they imposed. I would never want a return to a goverment that supports the greediest rather than the neediest. There again, I would not want to continue to support a regime that continues working to Thatcherite philosophy, where the free market is king, where business and profit is more more important than people, where targets in government services have become more important than the individual people that the services and government are supposed to serve, where the people are serving the economy rather than the economy serving the people.

I don't need to wait for government measurements and indicators to physically observe that there are people who don't have enough money to pay for their needs. I speak to people I know who are scared of the next gas bill, who cannot afford their own housing, who worry about whether they can aford to go to the dentist (if they can find one. I see homeless people on the streets. Life in the community keeps me in touch, it is a great shame that the actions of those empowered by the ballot box do not appear by their actions to be in touch with the realities of poverty faced in the community. The minimum wage, albeit a significant improvement on thatcherite days, remains an insult to the porly paid, who should not need to go cap in hand to claim tax credits and benefits. A fair days wage, without state top ups, for a for days work seems an alien concept within the British economy.

Not being a political theorist, I have no allegience to any poltical wing, all I know is that if I respect my neighbour, give him what he is due with the fairness and respect s/he desrves, then it is the first step towards the type of society and economy that I want to live in, and that my neighbour deserves to live in. Then if my nextdoor neighbour treats his neighbour fairly, then like a contagious disease fairness and respect may spread down the street, and beyond perhaps reaching and infecting my Labour Party, and then perhaps into Westminster and the City of London. Yes, it's my dream, a fantasy that Labour will wake up to remember the people in poverty, and do something to meaningfully address the poverty and inequality
so that all in our community receive the respect, opportunity and dignity they deserve within the community and the economy.

'Tis true thast we elected Labour in 1997 to enable the poor to get richer. "Richness of the poor" is an academic point at a time when fuel poverty is rising. There will be many more in the winter of 2008/9 than in the winter of 1997/8who will be forced to decide whether to eat or heat. Rising social housing waiting lists are indicative of housing poverty. How many government measurements do we need, before the problems are recognised and acted upon?

11:17 pm, October 21, 2008

Anonymous observer said...

I'm on disability benefits and my parents are too. We are a lot worse off now than we were 10 years ago. Inflation for food and heating and housing has rocketed. Disability benefit increases have, by comparison, been poxy and don't cover our ordinary everyday basic living costs. We can't even afford prescription charges and, as for dental treatment - that would be a luxury!

Baz Cymraeg is talking a lot of sense - Luke Akehurst isn't.

12:15 am, October 22, 2008

Anonymous whatwouldjesussay? said...

While we are on the subject of the OECD and this Government's achievements, check out ..."Why I am proud to be Labour, Part Two"

The OECD's Working Group on Bribery has sharply criticised the United Kingdom’s failure to bring its anti-bribery laws into line with its international obligations under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and urged the rapid introduction of new legislation. Although the UK ratified the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention TEN YEARS AGO, it has so far failed to successfully prosecute any bribery case against a company!

1:33 am, October 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'observer' - can you not get free prescriptions if you are on disability benefits?

The New Employment and Support Allowance introduced next month will probably increase disabilty allowance for those who genuinely cannot work, for those who can work, people will be helped to find a job.

8:56 am, October 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the comments on this article prove that the British public don't agree.

As for being a 'democratic socialist government' - this is laughable!

12:35 pm, October 22, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't think 17 comments on a blog (including Guido Fawkes) is a weight of evidence that cancels out the facts published by the OECD.

How would the introduction of a minimum wage, an increase in employment, and largescale redistribution through tax credits, cuts to basic rate tax, and increased public spending not have reduced poverty and inequality?

12:43 pm, October 22, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

And they have , Like - but not by enough. But still more than the Tories would have done.

3:24 pm, October 22, 2008

Anonymous observer said...

Anonymous (8.56am) asked...'observer' - can you not get free prescriptions if you are on disability benefits?

NO! That is a fallacy. Lots of us don't. You only get them free if you can jump through a series of hoops, which we can't.


Apparently, from 1 April 2009 cancer patients will be exempt from prescription charges. (Yippee! I'll qualify ... although I might be dead by then.) The government claims that it also "intends to move towards exempting patients with long-term conditions over the next few years." OK for mom and pop but ... don't hold your breath!

We are worse off (and the family had loyally voted Labour all our lives). My family has been let down whilst the rich have gotten richer. FACT!

So Luke can stuff his OECD weight of evidence where the sun don't shine.

3:43 pm, October 22, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

You really are out of touch then?
They must have massaged the figures-poverty is on the increase and real affordable housing is in chronic short supply and working class people are living in squalid conditions. Keep going to those middle class cheese and wine parties?

9:42 pm, October 22, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


why would an independent nternational body - that attacks aspects of the UK situation in the detail of the report - massage figures?

Read the report - it doesn't in the slightest pretend everything is great - it says we have a shockingly unequal country with too much poverty - but it firmly points the picture at the Thatcher years for creating this, and praises Labour for making very fast progress in reducing poverty and inequality.

I'm a councillor for one of the most deprived wards in London. When I walk round my ward I see a lot of poverty but I also see a far better situation and more relative prosperity (plus better housing and public services) than I saw when I moved to Hackney 10 years ago.

9:57 pm, October 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the source of the statistics needs to be questioned.

Even if employment levels have increased what sort of jobs are being created? Minimum wage jobs? £5.73/hr or £12,000 is a far cry from the 6 and 7 figure salaries earned by many.

9:55 am, October 23, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Have a look at your local job centre and imagine yourself as a semi skilled or manual worker or some one who's skills have been undermined over the years. The job centre paints a grim picture of real crap low pay-yet in your area there are yuppies earning hundreds of thousands or millions per year. Its time the gap was narrowed! In my area the Councillors salary and expenses are more than full time workers get and a lot of Councillors are getting other incomes and backhanders from developers.

4:40 pm, October 23, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Mark, all but sadly true. I pitty anyone looking for work at the moment.

Skilled trades are now working for as little as £8.50 per hour in the midlands just to compete. That makes a time served skilled engineer just two pound better off per hour than someone who stacks shelves in Tescos. It's disgusting how we are treating working people in this country. We might as well be living under communism as there is no incentive to work hard anymore.

MP's, and councilors are taking the piss with their expenditure, especially when it exceeds what people are taking home in wages.

Time for a big shake up I feel and to put many of these useless ministers on the doll.

9:57 pm, October 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the bottom line is when is the labour government going to -

1. Cut spending on MPs and civil servants expenses.
2. Stop companies paying their directors excessive salaries whilst companies plead poverty.

Then an only then might we decide that the government is interesting in breaching the rich-poor divide.

12:54 pm, October 24, 2008


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