Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/358/5894
Wealth Gap Widens Under Blair
Build a socialist alternative
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) latest report, 'The State of the Nation' confirms what we know only too well - Britain is deeply divided.
And the wealth gap is widening. When the IPPR published a report into social justice a decade ago, Tony Blair said it would inform his policies. At the time, many people assumed that this meant he would attempt to alleviate poverty. Instead, New Labour rules in the interests of big business.
"Between 1990 and 2000 the percentage of wealth held by the wealthiest 10% of the population increased from 47% to 54%", states the report.
Comparisons with other countries are no more favourable: "In 2001 - the last year for which international figures are available - 23% of children in Britain were living in households earning below 60% of median income, compared to just 5% in Denmark, 10% in Sweden, 14% in Germany."
The report makes clear the link between poverty and social inequality: "The poorest continue to be more likely to suffer from crime and the fear of crime. Around 4.8% of individuals earning under £5,000 a year were burgled in 2003/04 compared with approximately 2.7% of those earning over £30,000." Deprived areas suffer the worst effects of environmental degradation.
New Labour years ago turned its back on the working class. And the consequences of this are far-reaching, and show up in the IPPR report:
"Interest in politics has fallen slightly across all social classes, but there is a growing class divide. Between 1991 and 1999 for social classes D and E interest in politics halved."
It is not so much the case, however, that working-class people have lost interest in politics, but have been disenfranchised. People disillusioned with Blair's social and economic policies, and his prosecution of brutal war and subjugation of the Iraqi people have been abstaining from voting in elections in record numbers.
In reality, the IPPR report illustrates the vital necessity for a new mass workers' party. Armed with a democratic socialist programme it could genuinely represent working-class people. It could be set up by the trade unions, including those which currently fund New Labour. The fight against poverty means giving not a penny more to this union-bashing, privatising, bosses' party.
In The Socialist 7 August 2004:
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