Poverty and inequality

Class inequality and racism: the travesty of the Sewell report

The government-commissioned Sewell report into “race and ethnic disparities” (which can be read at bit.ly/sewellreport) has been widely panned as minimising the reality of racism and racial disadvantage in the UK, and rightly so. I don’t know to what extent the report reflects the honestly held views of the Sewell commission’s members, and to what extent they were just keen to ingratiate themselves with the Tory hierarchy and get ahead. Though overwhelmingly black or Asian, they are a privileged and conservative bunch even by the standards of such things, including six holders of MBE or CBE...

Tax the rich to unwind inequality

Economists on a Wealth Tax Commission reported in December 2020 in favour of a small one-off wealth tax to raise £260 billion over five years. Britain has the lowest rate of tax on corporate profits among big, rich countries — 19% where the US rate is 26%, Germany 30%, France 32%. To really “build back” for equality, we need to win democratic public ownership over the bulk of the business, financial, and real-estate wealth of the top few per cent, the bosses and bankers. Even short of that, there is overwhelming reason to tax the rich for reconstruction costs. Advance reports of the 3 March...

To attack inequality, fight "business", don't partner with it

Perhaps stung by criticisms about his lack of fight — and alarmed by stagnant poll ratings — Keir Starmer seems to be trying to indicate a change of tack, promising “a moral crusade now… to address the inequalities and injustices that this crisis has so brutally exposed”. “The Tories… want to build back”, Starmer said in his 18 February speech. “I don’t want to go back… certainly not to an economy rooted in insecurity and inequality.” “They’ve been slow at every stage. They’ve ignored advice. They haven’t learnt from their mistakes… Yet a government out of its depth is not even half the story...

A GP's view of the pandemic

A GP talked to Zack from Solidarity about the pandemic. An extract of this was printed in Solidarity, the full interview is below. Zack: What do you think should have been done differently in the vaccine rollout? GP: The Joint Committee on Vaccination should have planned from the start when they were going to give the second dose, so that they didn't change their mind. They shouldn't have asked private companies, like Pinnacle, to do things like the computing side. They should have used our existing providers. Vaccination isn't the only answer. You need to have track, trace, support, and...

Seize wealth to mend inequality!

The impact of the pandemic has been worsened by, and in turn worsened, many forms of economic and social inequality. In Solidarity 578 I summarised evidence from the Marmot and Deaton reports. As the Marmot report puts it: “mismanagement during the pandemic, and the unequal way the pandemic has struck, is of a piece with what happened in England in the decade from 2010 [i.e. the period of ‘austerity’]… Since then, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has changed dramatically. But in England the changes have been entirely consistent with its existing state when the pandemic hit…” Even the...

Calling out Compass

Images of free-school-meal-substitute “hampers” flooded across social media in mid-January, and very quickly the story was picked up by the mainstream media. Tweeter @RoadsideMum had received her “hamper” as the parent of two children. Supposedly enough to last ten days, it wouldn’t have sustained a hungry teenager for more than about fifteen minutes. Other families started to photograph their “hampers”. Half a tomato wrapped in cellophane. Half a tin of tuna in a money bag. Chartwells bill the government £30 per hamper. A quick trip to Asda online priced the contents at slightly under £5.50...

Inequality worsens the pandemic. The pandemic worsens inequality

New reports from academic researchers and think-tanks have vividly illustrated the connections between the Covid-19 pandemic and social inequality, and made the case — explicitly or by implication — for radical measures in response. A range of social inequalities have worsened the impact of Covid-19, and Covid in turn has worsened those inequalities. None of these reports comes from or even really mentions the labour movement, which surely says something too. Socialists must fight for our movement to shake itself up, to become a megaphone for social protest and campaigning. The Marmot review...

Marcus Garvey, model capitalist?

While I was writing my Solidarity pieces on Marcus Garvey, I heard of a short Radio 4 programme Black Star Line: The Story of Marcus Garvey. Produced in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the programme, narrated by 1Xtra DJ Seani B, sought in less than 30 minutes to tell us about Garvey and examine the influence Garvey and Garveyism has had today. Even as a potted history it has some holes. We are told that Garvey faced opposition from other black leaders in the US like Du Bois and A Philip Randolph, but never why. It suggests Garvey was an ambitious entrepreneur who believed in...

Top 1% dominate wealth

A new report from the Resolution Foundation finds that family wealth in the UK is grossly unequal and becoming more so. The top one per cent (average net wealth £5 million per adult in the family) have 23% of all household wealth, and a much higher proportion of the wealth that brings power (financial wealth and business assets, as against wealth in houses or in pension assets). The top 10% have 55%. The new report draws on a range of statistics and calculations to offset under-reporting in the official Wealth and Assets Survey. Wealth inequality decreased over the 20th century until the...

Pandemic points to need to "build back fairer"

"Covid-19 has exposed and amplified the inequalities we [have] observed [before] and the economic harm caused by containment measures – lockdowns, tier systems, social isolation measures - will further damage health and widen health inequalities. "Inequalities in Covid-19 mortality rates follow a similar social gradient to that seen for all causes of death and the causes of inequalities in Covid-19 are similar to the causes of inequalities in health more generally... "The mismanagement during the pandemic, and the unequal way the pandemic has struck, is of a piece with what happened in England...

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