Posts Tagged ‘inequality’

10 hard truths for Labour moderates

21/07/2016, 10:01:33 PM

by Samuel Dale

Last summer, Labour Uncut ran a series about telling ten hard truths for the Labour party after an epic election defeat in May 2015.

Those were the days. Remember Andy Burnham giving his opening leadership speech at Ernst & Young and talking about attracting business support? Or Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper fighting over who could say aspiration the most times in a speech?

For a few heady days in May, we were all Blairites. An incredible 12 months in Labour politics has passed and it is time to tell 10 hard truths to Labour moderates about our role in the party.

1. Jeremy Corbyn won because Labour members backed him. Corbyn currently appears to have the overwhelming support of Labour members, not to mention affiliated and registered supporters. In fact, he is one of the most popular leaders the party has ever had among its membership. The only realistic route to removing Corbyn is persuading these members that there is a better alternative. Telling them they are clowns or morons (as I have done many times) is self-indulgent and clearly unpersuasive.

2. Momentum have out-organised the Labour right. Last summer, the Corbyn campaign signed up 88,449 registered supporters paying £3 each to vote for him. That was a huge effort of organization and political skill. Without those registered supporters then the vote would have gone into a second round and anything could have happened. This year’s election has been an even bigger effort with an estimated 150,000 registered supporters signed up in the last 48 hours. Some will be moderates for Saving Labour but it seems likely that most will be Corbynistas. (more…)

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Ed Miliband is the only politician talking about what really matters: inequality

24/01/2014, 12:22:34 PM

by Robin Thorpe

With Ed Miliband’s recent talk of rebuilding the middle class and his previous rhetoric of the squeezed middle are we now seeing a resurgence of class consciousness? Or is Ed just focusing on familiar words to cloak his lack of credible policies? I sincerely hope it is the former. The problem with the concept of class is that because the labour market is now so diverse it can be difficult for people to identify what class they are. Perhaps, therefore, we should just recognise that there are broadly only two classes of people; the ‘power elite’ and the rest of us.

I can understand why people may want to cling to the notion that there is a hierarchy of socio-economic divisions that we can climb up if we only work hard enough. People have evolved to compete for resources and societies have long been predicated on prestige and social position. But surely we must now recognise that the division between the elite and the rest is so entrenched that it will take more than a bit of pluck and a protestant work ethic to break the stranglehold of inequality. Will Hutton has written that he thinks that Ed Miliband’s “cost of living” crisis is a sideways route into opening up an argument over inequality and I hope that he is right.

Enabling effective change will not be easy; there are many vested interested who will oppose a recalibration of the way that our economy works. The obvious attack on Miliband’s ambition is to decry it as statist and anti-business. Fraser Nelson writes in the Telegraph that a Labour government implementing this agenda would result in “companies refusing to invest, and wealth-creators leaving”. This argument ignores the fact that the notion of state vs. business is a false choice; neither can this choice be defined as socialism vs. capitalism. Instead it should be defined as shallow versus deep freedom.

Steve Davies from the Institute for Economic Affairs (on Radio 4’s The Longview) agrees that the cost of living is a real problem for those on low wages; in particular the cost of housing. But he also states that workers must increase their productivity to improve their wage-earning capacity, as if low wages are their fault for not working hard enough. Solving the problem of the cost of living will still leave people dependant on increasingly precarious employment.


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Time to smash the glass ceiling that still faces women at work

14/11/2012, 03:41:13 PM

by Ann McKechin

Workplace equality is currently a hot topic among UK and EU legislators. In Europe, Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, recently had plans for a 40% female quota on EU listed company boards quashed. Revised proposals released today look to soften down the original draft legislation. In Westminster, my colleagues and I on the business, innovation and skills select committee are now gathering evidence for a new inquiry: women in the workplace. The results so far have been both illuminating and alarming.

On a positive note, the evidence suggests that one year on from Lord Davies’s report Women on Boards, women at the top of British businesses are finally getting a seat at the table. The number of female board members in FTSE 100 companies has increased from 12% in 2010 to 17.3% in 2012, whilst the number with no women on the board dropped to eleven.

But there is still work to be done. The majority of women being appointed to board level positions at public companies are non-executive directors, who lack the power and influence that executive office brings. Despite the number of FTSE 100 companies with more than one woman on the board increasing to fifty since Lord Davies recommended a voluntary code of conduct for chairmen to follow, there remain fifty companies with only a single female board member. Change is a slow process, however, and the news that the corporate gender balance is gradually tilting towards equality can only be a good thing.

“Breaking the glass ceiling” and progressing to the top of the corporate ladder is far removed from the concerns of the vast majority of working women in the UK. Much of the written evidence submitted to the committee relates to the barriers stopping women across the pay levels returning to work after having children, from lack of flexibility in working hours to childcare costs which rank as the most expensive in the developed world. Gingerbread, a charity championing the rights of single parents, noted in their evidence that too much part-time work is concentrated in low-paid, low-skilled jobs.


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