The UK is now the most unequal country in EU, and Cameron has been very conservative with the truth

tory lies

Last year I wrote an article – Cameron’s Gini and the hidden hierarchy of worthand I said: On 04 June, 2014, at 3.52pm BST, Cameron said that inequality is at its lowest level since 1986. I really thought I’d misheard him. But of course Cameron lies, that’s an established fact.

This isn’t the first time Cameron has used this lie. We have a government that provides disproportionate and growing returns to the already wealthy, whilst imposing austerity cuts on the very poorest. How can such a government possibly claim that inequality is falling, when inequality is so fundamental to their ideology and when social inequalities are extended and perpetuated by all of their policies? It seems the standard measure of inequality is being used to mislead us into thinking that the economy is far more “inclusive’ than it is.

A newly published report by the Dublin-based Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) states that the UK has become the most unequal country in Europe, on the basis of income distribution and wages.

The report also says that the UK has the highest Gini coefficient of all European Union (EU) member states – and higher than that of the US. The coefficient is a widely used measure of the distribution of income within a nation, and is commonly used to calculate inequality.

According to analysts at Eurofound, Britain has a Gini coefficient of 0.404, whilst that of the US is 0.4. Portugal and Latvia followed the UK with Gini coefficients of 0.358 and 0.357, respectively. The average Gini index for the EU as a whole in 2011 was 0.346.

Eurofound was established in 1975 to contribute to the planning and design of improved living and working conditions. This role is undertaken in partnership with governments, employers, trade unions and the European Union institutions.

The report says that there was a decrease in inequality before the global crisis that was entirely due to a significant reduction in between-country wage differentials (in other words, a process of convergence in pay levels – see: Labour’s excellent record on poverty and inequality – which came to a halt, reflecting the effects of the global crash, in 2008, and then started to reverse towards the end of the period of this analysis, in 2011.

My friend, the British economist Michael Burke, observed that  Eurofound’s study demonstrates the previous claims by David Cameron that Britain’s economy is recovering from the recession were false.

Speaking to RT on Tuesday, Mr Burke said: “The Tory government is fond of making spurious claims about Britain being the strongest economy in Europe. But the reality is that Britain under the Tories is the European capital of inequality.”

All of the deterioration in the Gini coefficient in the EU is caused by the worsening of inequality,” he added.

The jobs machine that David Cameron [is referring to] is in reality low-paid jobs, many of them providing unproductive services to the ultra-rich.”

The UK now has the worst Gini coefficient in the EU. Gini is the most widely accepted measure of how fairly income is distributed amongst a nation’s residents and is the standard measure of inequality. Cameron, parroting Thatcher, has claimed that there is no such thing as “public money,” indicating clearly that the economic enclosure that was initiated by the Tories under the guise of austerity, affecting the poorest citizens most of all, but leaving the wealthy unaffected by cuts, is going to be permanent.

A YouGov survey conducted this month and published on Monday found that most voters in the UK believe the government should prioritize tackling inequality – reducing the gap between rich and poor – over faster economic growth.

The findings, which suggest strong public support for redistribution, will complicate the debate about precisely how the Labour Party lost the general election, particularly given the Labour manifesto, outlining strongly redistributive and progressive tax policies, which had disgruntled a number of super petulant super-rich celebrities, who threatened to flounce from the UK if Labour gained office.

YouGov found that of the main parties, only Conservative supporters were significantly more likely to care about economic growth than inequality. Bearing in mind that Cameron won with 36.9% of the vote, the considerable gap between the priorities of Conservatives and those of the other parties will most likely mean a difficult five years for the prime minister.

With homelessness increasing by 55% between 2010 and 2014, whilst food bank use has surged, malnutrition and absolute poverty, not seen in this country since before the inception of the welfare state, are becoming more commonplace, and with more draconian cuts planned by the Tories for the already diminished and essential support for the poorest – many of whom are in low waged work – it’s going to be an extremely punishing five years for those already at the poorest end of the UK’s steeply hierarchical society.

Last year, I wrote about the study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who found what most of us already knew: that income inequality actually stifles economic growth in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, whilst the redistribution of wealth via taxes and benefits encourages growth.

The report from the OECD, a leading global think tank, shows basically that what creates and reverses growth is the exact opposite of what the current right-wing government are telling us, highlighting the truth of Ed Miliband’s comments in his speech – that the Tory austerity cuts are purely ideologically driven, and not about managing the economy at all.

But many of us already knew this was so.

1459720_569627496440116_902730897_nPictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone

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59 thoughts on “The UK is now the most unequal country in EU, and Cameron has been very conservative with the truth

  1. Sue,
    May I say that you are doing an excellent job and I am pleased that your analysis and intelligent commentary continues. I want however to discuss why Labour lost the election…I particularly liked Harriet Harmon’s sensible statement not to listen to anecdote etc.
    Various people including Michael Rosen have compiled figures showing that
    a) Labour generated more votes than in 2010 despite losing close to a 1m votes in Scotland. Ed generated around 1.4% more votes than 2010
    b) If the Scottish hadn’t felt so taken for granted Labour would have polled 10.3m votes and as we know would have had 280+ seats
    c) LIb Dem lost 4m votes which accounts for some of this increase..I believe Labour generated around 1m (bit difficult to calculate correctly) of the Lib vote
    d) Undoubtedly some possible Labour voters defected to UKIP and I’m not prepared to try and comment on why, I will no doubt sound patronising.
    e) Overall we need the Labour party to see that there is a significant tide of people, the less affluent, the proportionately negatively affected by austerity, the progressive and the intelligent who do not need to be approached by a spun message and focus group prepared media presentation…………………if we can aggregate everyone under a cohesive and straight forward message we can win ……….it’s not going to be easy, but it can be done.
    f) If Labour or indeed any party could ennervate the several million who don’t vote, any election would be a landslide.

    But those people who support your blog and generally support your ideas, have to see that whilst we prepare a cogent response, it’s no good promoting cynicism or unhappiness about the general lack of cohesion of the left…we have to work together, we may be all individuals but we have a common purpose.
    If we do not, then we will have to wait until corporate capitalism eats itself, and corporate capitalism is a very fat and bloated concept with very stupid people harnessing vested self interest efficiently and powerfully and it may take more time than most of us have on this green earth.

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    1. Thank you Pieter. For me, the strikingly notable influence on voting behaviour was nationalism. I don’t believe the Scots voting SNP did so simply because of disillusionment with Labour, having been on the receiving end of anti-British sentiment a lot. The problem often was that the SNP campaign was entirely aimed at demolishing Labour support, often using dishonesty to do so, and that had an impact on the English vote, too.

      English nationalism was expressed in the UKIP votes, it’s understandable that right-wing voters may vote UKIP, but traditional Labour voters defecting, and at a time when Labour presented a progressive, redistributive manifesto, is based on a less rational process. The media was pivotal in whipping up both anti-immigrant and anti-SNP sentiment, Lynton Crosby certainy blew his infamous dog-whistle. Here in the NE we have a Labour stronghold, but UKIP did eat into Labour votes. They came quite close to winning seats here in the region.

      And the Lib Dem voters, wanting to punish the Lib Dems for TORY policies voted…mostly Tory. This was an irrational outcome until you consider the tactical element, as these voters were targeted with anti-Labour/SNP rhetoric, and fear-mongering about economic ‘competence.’ The Tories used extremely divisive propaganda, manipulating prejudices. It worked.

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      1. Agreed .Dick Dastardly Cameron is now officially the most Racist divisive liar in power on a par with Enoch Powell..
        Career not country is Cameron’s priority. Huffington post caught his freudian slip while privately campaigning in his party office in front of his party lackeys.

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  2. This article explains in much more detail what I have been trying to tell people for the last 5 years, but for some reason no one seams to want to listen? I would like to copy this article and include it (in whole or in part) on my web site if I may?

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  3. Yet more whinging from a deluded lefty and its bunch of loony followers.
    One of the main reasons Labour lost was its shift to the left. Nobody with a brain wishes to go back to the Socialist nightmare of the 70s. Those days are gone thankfully, & a Left wing Labour Party is no longer relevant in England today. Blair new that…hence his shift to the centre ground. Labour could now be out of power for a generation thank God. Time to get with the program, get a grip, & get a damned job.
    Spouting your left wing mantra is old, tired, irelevant, & boring. Game over!

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    1. Really? Yet my ‘old left wing mantra’ threatened you didn’t it. Not so ‘irelevant and boring’, then. It prompted you to respond with petulance and bile, did it not?

      Your tory government is comprised of psychopaths and they spout lies and incoherent and divisive bullshit, and you have the brainwashed, drooling stupidity to call us ‘deluded’ and ‘loony’? Get a job? I HAVE a job. I’m sick and disabled, paid taxes all my life, so kiss my ass and go try and harass and bully someone else with trotted out brain-dead tory dogma, you gullible, knuckle-dragging moron. Your lack of intelligence, rationality and capacity for discussion and debate is clearly evident in your idiotic and immature name-calling rant. Get a grip, grow up, and pat yourself on the head for your sleepwalk to fascism you numb-brained waste of an existence. I will be continuing with writing what I wish. Evidence is a central part of my work, too. If that annoys you, tough.

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      1. Kitty,Conservative party HQ are paying Jermaine to trawl sites like yours to pollute the broadband revolution.

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    2. I was a young single mum on benefits in the “socialist nightmare of the 70s”. The benefit system gave me adequate support.
      The result is that both I and my child grew up to be taxpayers.

      Having a decent benefits system is not an extravagance: it is a very practical way of keeping the economy on an even keel. It ensures that there is money in the economy stimulating “demand”. It means that available workers (unemployed people) remain healthy and in a fit condition to take up employment if/when they get the opportunity. (People who have not eaten properly for several weeks, been evicted, broken up with their spouse, and acquired a criminal record for shoplifting have NOT had their prospects of obtaining a good job enhanced.)

      It never fails to amaze me that right wingers, who claim to be the party of wealth creators, can completely abdicate their responsibility for the absence of job vacancies. You never hear them saying we must get a grip and CREATE some damned jobs. You never hear them saying we must motivate the unemployed to take jobs by providing them with decent wages and good working conditions. Endlessly the poor are held responsible for their own poverty, and the people who could do something about it, the people who have the money which could relieve it, are not expected or required to do anything.

      That is not the politics of envy. It is the politics about running the economy sanely, so that the majority of people are able to live comfortably and happily, and rich people can enjoy their wealth without needing to live in gated communities employing armed guards protect them from poor people.

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