Viewpoint on Inequality and the 1%

Viewpoint on Inequality and the 1%

Spare a thought for the 1% lowest earners in the UK. Read on if you care…
The Conservatives won a narrow majority in May 2015. The result shocked a London based commentariat. This was hardly surprising as the Capital swung to Labour and London remains where life’s winners congregate, a place from where losers must be expelled. It was life’s losers who did not turn out to vote for the main alternative on offer, a watered-down version of Conservative austerity being sold to them by Ed Miliband. We were then told that the Labour Party did not appeal enough to those who were aspirational and wanted more, including people who wanted more largely irrespective of who had to have less. But perhaps fear and fantasy greatly appealed too, an eighth of the English electorate voted for the UK Independence party (UKIP).

In Scotland all but three of the constituencies fell to the Scottish National Party (SNP) which now represented as wide a cross-section of society as it is possible to imagine. The former Royal Bank of Scotland oil economist, Alex Salmond became an MP alongside young students and aged socialists. So 56 SNP MPs set off to London to take their seats and spread their message. Not since 1918, when Sinn Féin took 73 seats in Ireland, has a third party performed so well in the United Kingdom. This must be seen as a signal that a change is underway, but for many among the English elite, the Scots bring to mind restless children.

As the realisation of what had dawned in May 2015 spread, new voices began to grow louder and be heard for the first time in England. They said the Labour Party’s issues were not about choosing the wrong leader or having the wrong electoral strategy, but that Labour had forgotten how to cooperate and be kind. Labour did not cooperate with the Greens, with the SNP, nor even much with each other in the Shadow Cabinet. Instead, Labour saw the election as a two-horse-race where winning alone was all-important.

In the days immediately after that May election a sharper mood emerged among many of those who in so many different ways oppose the power of the 1%. Rebecca Winson, a writer and an activist for GMB Young London, wrote on the day after the election: “Labour, Green, Tusc [Trade Union and Socialist Coalition] and even Lib Dem progressives must work together to oppose what’s going to happen. We’re all on the same side now.” She ended her piece by saying:

“If you can, be kind to those you argue with, because compassion changes more minds than anger, even though it’s harder to muster. Be kind to the poor, the disabled, the immigrants, the workers and to anyone who’s a bit different. The government won’t be, you see.”

Read more:

  • Read the full text in the Policy and Politics blog
  • Read the text in Danny’s web archive