“The importance of inequality”


    One of the least enjoyable  characteristics of some left wing commentators and politicians is their willingness to personalise and misrepresent people of different views from their own in an unpleasant way.

        On Tuesday I was sent a copy of a piece written by John Harris in the Guardian. I do not recall having a heart to heart with Mr Harris. He certainly did not ring me up recently before writing about me. He clearly has not read any of my comments on the topic of inequality. He simply asserted ” There is no point in people like me having a pop at, say, John Redwood, for his failure to recognise the importance of inequality”.

         Had he taken the elementary precaution to talk to me, or to read some of what I have written, he would know that I do think inequality is a vital  topic in political discussion, in talking about  helping create the conditions for a good society, and in discussing economic, tax and spending policies. I have spent much of my life in politics working with colleagues, writing and thinking about how more people in our country can get good jobs, receive good educations, enjoy a better quality of life and a higher standard of living. Like all members of the main political parties I support taxing the rich more to help pay for  the lifestyles of the worse off. I am a softy when it comes to more public  money and facilities  for the disabled.

           It is irritating beyond measure that some on the left automatically assume many of us that they brand as right wing have no wish to see the poor prosper or to see equality narrow by raising the living standards of those worst off. They should recognise that in many cases in UK mainstream political debate we do not disagree about the aim – we disagree about the means.

        I know of no MP who likes poverty or thinks poverty does not matter. I know of no MP who thinks government should stand idly by and do nothing about poverty. I know of many who after years of pushing public money at the problem are asking how can we spend it better? What else do we need to do? Why are most of the new jobs going to recent arrivals in our country and not those already here who are unemployed? Why do so many young people in well financed inner city state schools fail to achieve much by way of qualifications? Why do so many families break down, or some never get started with both father and mother engaged? Why do so many end up on drugs, or confine their entrepreneurial skills to trades that are illegal?

           The true debate lies not over the need to conquer poverty or to narrow extremes of income by a mixture of lifting people out of poverty and progressive taxation. The true debate lies over a couple of important propositions. I do not believe you can make the poor rich by making the rich poor. The problem is the rich do not have to hang around if you seek to make them too poor. They have the best lawyers and accountants. They can go on strike when it comes  to investing and developing businesses. They can go offshore. Some on the left would say let them go.

                Which brings us to the second source of disagreement, the trickle down theory. I do believe that having and keeping more rich people and successful companies here in the UK does allow some of the income and wealth to circulate to the rest of us. We succeed in taking some tax off them, which helps with the public service bill. The rich do employ armies of professional advisers, they do set up businesses and create jobs, they frequent the restaurants and patronise the hotels, they keep the luxury goods makers and distributors in employment.

                      Of course it is right to say there are still many poor people who draw no direct benefit from the presence of rich nearby. Not everyone can work for a rich person or wants to. It is false to say there is no trickle down, or that the UK would be better off if more left to spend their cash in Zurich or Singapore, Hong Kong of Shanghai.

                             No, Mr Harris, do not peddle untruths. I do care very much about poverty and about what life chances people enjoy in our country. I want them to be much better. That is why I like grammar schools, Academies and other means of lifting educational standards. That is why I want to lower tax rates on effort and work, as I want more people to find working worthwhile. And that is why I urge people not to be jealous of the premier league  footballer, the pop star or the media personality who hit the big time and earn mega bucks. It gives others something to aim for, as well as filling  the newspapers with  celebrity lives.


I have sent a copy of this to Guardian, who intend to publish an edited version in their paper shortly.


  1. electro-kevin
    August 18, 2011

    Equality is often conflated with justice and equality of opportunity.

    It is not justice. Inequality should be there to show that graft, skill, wit, education offer rewards over laziness.

    In this country the rewards system has broken down.

    My Annual Leave this year ? Staying at home – again.

    For two weeks I become equal to the layabouts next door. That’s my reward for earning a middle-class wage and taking on responsibility. Like them I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning.

    Those in my bracket are are hit quite badly by ‘equality’. It is most certainly NOT merely about making a choice between wines at restaurant meals

    1. JoolsB
      August 18, 2011

      It’s not just the workers. People who’ve saved into private sector pensions are finding themselves worse off than those who’ve never put by for their old age except that those who’ve sacrificed part of their earnings over the years find themselves drawn into paying more income tax on their modest pensions thanks to Mr. Osborne only raising pensioners’ personal tax allowances by £500 compared to £1,000 for under 65’s, a fiscal drag Gordon Brown would have been proud of. Add to that no help for the unfair and exorbitant council tax which takes no account of ability to pay, whereas those who haven’t bothered to save have to pay neither income tax nor council tax out of their already more generous pension credit than some private pensions. It seems even under a tory led Government that it doesn’t pay to ‘do the right thing’ whereas it does pay to let the state take care of you instead.

      1. alan jutson
        August 18, 2011

        Jools B

        What you describe is exactly the problem we have had for decades, it simply does not pay to do “the right thing”, because if you have more than just minimum savings, you preclude yourself from any help whatsoever.

        You may as well go on an expensive cruise, treat your kids, and blow the savings, and then the state will help you.

        What an absolute cock eyed system we have, that rewards the feckless, and penalises the thrifty.

        When is it going to change John ?

    2. Mike Stallard
      August 18, 2011

      This is the third time today that I have been involved in this line of argument. Rest assured, you are by no means alone in your thoughts.

      1. electro-kevin
        August 18, 2011

        Thanks JB and MS

        My point hear is not to wallow in self pity or court sympathy but to demonstrate that I have experiences match entirely with what some would call tabloid hyperbole.

        1. electro-kevin
          August 19, 2011

          …and to highlight that the reason for high indiginous unemployment is not a lack of jobs or opportunities but the fact that one is often poorer for taking work because of the way the benefits system is set up – hence people wilfully make themselves unemployable.

          The single, unemployed girl who is a mother at seventeen can achieve far more in terms of property and possessions than the hard working young couple who are having to put off starting a family.

    3. electro-kevin
      August 18, 2011

      “I urge people not to be jealous of the premier league footballer, the pop star or the media personality who hit the big time and earn mega bucks.”

      I’m not jealous of these people. I’m jealous of the ones who are so emotionally liberated by the state that they don’t give a sh** about anything but the next iphone or pair of trainers. I’m jealous of the ones who are so bottomlessly ignorant that they can’t see the danger we are in.

  2. Boudicca
    August 18, 2011

    Mr Harris is merely parroting the old, failed socialist dogmas that have brought this country to its knees. You were just an easy target because you fit the Socialists’ idea of a rabid right-winger.

    The sad fact is, however, that the current Coalition is little better than Labour. There is really very little of any substance that is different between the current policies of the Lib/Lab/CON (and certainly not Blair’s version of Labour). We need radical change in this country, but the effective one-party-state we have won’t achieve it.

    The first change we need is to reclaim our independence from the EU – but not one of the main parties will even consider it, which is why so many disaffected Conservatives (like me) are now UKIP supporters and members.

    1. Peter Campbell
      August 18, 2011

      I was going to write a comment but I see you’ve made every point I wanted to. Well said.

      1. Oldrightie
        August 18, 2011

        Ditto. “It is irritating beyond measure that some on the left automatically assume many of us that they brand as right wing have no wish to see the poor prosper or to see equality narrow by raising the living standards of those worst off. They should recognise that in many cases in UK mainstream political debate we do not disagree about the aim – we disagree about the means.”
        In a nut shell and which shames the target of Mr Redwood’s excellent retort.

    2. Tim
      August 18, 2011

      I agree entirely with these posts. If right wing is being self sufficient whereever possible, offering a hand up not a hand out, being patriotic by putting my family, friends and Country before foreigners, making a fair contribution to society through reasonable taxes, believing in my responsibilities as well as my rights, obeying the law, then that’s me.
      We have a Government who still don’t act for the people. The Tories are in office but not in power. They have not given us our overdue referendum on the in/out of the EU. I don’t know anyone who see any value in giving £13.5 billion to Europe to improve their infrastructure and subsidise their farmers. Why on earth does Mr Camaron think borrowing £11.5 billion to give it away in foreign aid is reasonable in these times? When is the Human Rights Act going? Why after 15 months hasn’t immigration been brought under control and those who shouldn’t be here removed? 100’s thousands students from the 3rd world allowed to sign up for Mickey Mouse courses. Why am I subsidising foreign people who get free health, housing and education, whilst we have 1000,000 unemployed young British people? Perhaps the companies who employ foreign people in preference to our own should be made to pay a premium for their additional public service costs then wouldn’t find this option as affordable.
      If all we are getting is more of the same then why should I keep voting Tory??

  3. Mike Stallard
    August 18, 2011

    Good for you!

    The Liberal Left is now I reckon about 100 years behind the times. They have had their go for the last 50 years and we have seen the result: London ravaged, Manchester burning, Birmingham looted. The poor or various different “communities” left without any sort of culture or self respect (look at Jeremy Kyle’s programme if you do not believe me).

    Our problem must be putting Humpty Dumpty back on the wall.
    Can we though?
    Humpty Dumpty is the result of hundreds of years of Protestant Christian work and fighting. Today it seems (I am a Catholic now) that any form of religious discussion is very rude and, frankly, rather passe. I don’t expect to see the Christian religion mentioned in the Guardian, for example, or on Newsnight.
    Our family system, scientific education, teaching reading (the Bible), looking after the poor, one man one woman, respecting property without consumerism…….
    All these are firmly based on the Christian tradition. Please note that most of these do not exist universally in Muslim or Buddhist societies in the same way. (Some do)
    So how can we restore them without Christianity?

  4. barnacle bill
    August 18, 2011

    I’ve always felt that the political “Conservatives” do actually care about inequality in our society . Whilst it has now been shown that the Left are only in politics it for what they can get out of it and beggar the rest of us.

  5. norman
    August 18, 2011

    Are there really still educated people out there who charicature right wingers as some sort of Scrooges, back bent, rubbing hands together counting out piles of gold as the shivering underclass look in jealously through the window?

    I thought this idea had died decades ago, but perhaps there is still a regressive element who take comfort in believing such nonsense.

    1. Simon
      August 18, 2011

      No, norman, there are no educated people who do this. But equally there are no educated people who deny that there are some people who do fall into the description you make. They don’t comprise the whole of the right-wing, nor the whole of the wealthy or well-off, but to deny that they comprise even part of these groups of people is ridiculous.

      Discouraging rent-seeking without discouraging wealth-creation – that’s the challenge. But some of us feel that the current balance means that too little is done to recognise the craftiness of rent-seekers camouflaging themselves as wealth-creators, and that too much is done in the way of helping them with this piece of legerdemain.

      1. norman
        August 18, 2011

        I think the point I was making, or trying to make, wasn’t that people like this don’t exist, there are all kinds of (dubious people-ed) floating around, it’s just that to lazily pigeon hole people without having any real understanding of their views is crass. I’d also imagine such people are as likely to be left wing, non-political, centrist or right-wing.

        It’s not just the left wing press that do this in fairness.

        The Daily Mail seems quite happy to paint all immigrants as scroungers here only for benefits and all single mothers as bed-hopping baby making machines out to screw the taxpayer for as much as possible.

      2. lifelogic
        August 18, 2011

        What on earth is wrong with “rent seeking” it is just a payment for a service provided just as interest is “rent” for provision of money and you can also rent a car, a truck, a house, a farm or a JCB.

        If you do not want to pay the rent then don’t rent it. The people who rent these things buy them and usually pay interest on the loans to buy them or (forgo interest on the money they use) if they could not rent them out they would not buy them and they would not be available.

        1. sm
          August 18, 2011


          From an individual perspective or countries?

          If the money supply is allowed to expand (via debt created money from banks) to meet this demand for say housing the evidence is in front of us.

          The dynamic on the way up appears self-reinforcing and also on the way down.

          On the other hand.

          If a productive enterprize produced widgets, then the investment would lead to ‘more, better widgets and lower prices and capitalism may be allowed to work. Mal-investment would be allowed to correct- i would bet.

          IMHO Monetary policy has been aimed at delaying ,smoothing the adjustment that the market would impose.

          Consequently we are grappling with stagflation.

          Rents and housing in general are too expensive in relation to average earnings. Immigration tends to reduce labour costs and increase demand for housing/social housing. Production of housing is tightly controlled and outside the means of ordinary people.

          1. yudansha
            August 19, 2011

            By accident it has been found that property prices in the UK rise through overcrowding.

            As a large part of our economy is based on housing equity governments give us more overcrowding.

            This is the economics of the mad house and the cycle will end when this overcrowding causes further rioting in the UK and houses in key areas become uninsurable.

        2. A different Simon
          August 18, 2011

          I believe the other Simon is talking about rent seeking in the broader economic sense and not specific to housing .

          I think he puts his case very well too , rent collecting is far too common and merely redistributes wealth rather than increasing the aggregate of wealth .

          The banks would go belly up if nature was allowed to take it’s course by letting the housing bubble deflate suddenly .

          Instead the banks petition the govt to try and keep it going by ZIRP , restricting the supply of new housing , increasing the demand by having open borders .

          This feature of gaining economic advantage by using political influence rather than adding value is a feature of rent collection .

          Unfortunately it’s easier for big business to gain economic advantage in this way than by creating value so society as a whole becomes richer .

          The domestic utilities cartel could increase their profits by investing in exploration or storage facilities for water/gas/oil but they get a better rate of return on paying lobbists to persuade the govt to let them stiff home owners with price rises above inflation .

        3. APL
          August 18, 2011

          lifelogic: “What on earth is wrong with “rent seeking” .. ”

          I think Norman may have used the term in a different sense.

          From Wiki

          In economics, rent-seeking is an attempt to derive economic rent by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by adding value.

          1. APL
            August 18, 2011

            Or even Simon.

          2. lifelogic
            August 19, 2011

            Well in that sense of “rent seeking” such as “the limitation of access to skilled occupations imposed by medieval guilds” – or manipulation to profit unfairly or just distortions of the free marked I agree fully. Start with the EU(and the big business legal manipulation of it for profit), the legal profession, some cartels, the medical profession, “green” electricity, the BBC, home energy certificates and above all the huge over blown organs of the state sector funded by taxes or back door taxes of licences, fines and similar for little real benefit.

  6. Denis Cooper
    August 18, 2011

    I hope the Guardian doesn’t mangle it too much in the editing.

  7. Matt
    August 18, 2011

    John Redwood’s “Failure to Recognise Inequality”

    Your Blogs… Just scratching the surface

    How Do You Promote Social Mobility April 2011

    Where you urge a series of measures…”Reforming the state schools”….” Academic excellence”…”A disproportionate number of independent school pupils go to elite universities”……………”Providing pupils with libraries full of challenging books”….and much more

    Inequality Up January 2010

    13 years of Labour has increased inequality……………..

    In addition you gave the left credit …previous blog… for their lead in tackling racial discrimination.

    Doesn’t sound like failure to me…………..

    1. lifelogic
      August 18, 2011

      Indeed we care about inequality that is why we want to get people back to work. For those really unable to work state provision is needed. For the rest they need to be taught to fish, not just given a government hand out fish each day and expected to sit at home and watch daytime TV.

      We need both grammar schools and practical work training in very many areas, less employment law and very few benefits without attending some work or training for the able bodied ones.

      We need less regulation, no expensive green energy, a much smaller state, fewer pointless wars, no HS2 and jobs will follow without a single doubt.

      1. lifelogic
        August 18, 2011

        People will not get equality just by being kept dependent on the states breast and living off the labours of others for generation after generation – indeed quite the reverse is the case.

      2. electro-kevin
        August 18, 2011

        Why do some people deliberately make themselves unequal ?

        Mr Redwood has been an employer. Would he have employed someone for a frontline service job who turned up for interview:

        – insisting on speaking in slang unintelligible to customers
        – wearing his trousers halfway down his backside
        – displaying tattoos above the collar or studs in his face
        – bearly literate or numerate after 13 years schooling
        – brought with him a nasty pitbull

        Yet this is what we get a lot in Britain. Why ? Because, in the type of society we have, intimidation is power. And because the state makes it pay to look like this.

        Tattoos above the neck should result in exclusion from benefits by virtue of the fact that the recipient has made himself unemployable in so many fields.

        1. uanime5
          August 18, 2011

          So anyone with neck tattoos has to become a criminal because they can’t get a job or benefits. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

      3. uanime5
        August 18, 2011

        None of your suggestions will reduce unemployment. Better education won’t work if there are no jobs and reducing benefits will only encourage people to turn to crime (black market if we’re lucky, theft if we’re not).

        1. electro-kevin
          August 18, 2011

          The facial/neck tattoo is a statement of intent. It may be a false statement of intent but it is designed to transmit “I’m hard and I may be trouble.” clearly it also states “I couldn’t give a stuff what you think.”

          No decent society would want these unsightly marks. They make me feel intimidated.

          As regards not reducing employment. That’s really not my fault. Unless apprenticed these people may work as unskilled labour but shop work, hotel work and office work is pretty much ruled out on appearance alone.

        2. lifelogic
          August 19, 2011

          Of course they will increase employment how could they not do?

  8. alan jutson
    August 18, 2011

    Well thats a surprise, the Guardian not being a fully fledged ad paid up member of the JR supporters club.

    The Press also have a lot to answer for with many of the problems in todays society, most the the poor articles are the result of lazy journalism, many so called facts are not facts at all, but dressed up opinions by a writer who has not even researched facts properly. We have a similar problem with TV interviewers, many lack the forensic interviewing skills required to get to the real core of any subject matter.

    Its sad, but afraid the politics of envy creep in everywhere, what would Mr John Harris prefer, Parliament to be full of Gordon Brown types who have bought the country to its knees, with a spend, spend, spend, mantra, thinking that simply throwing money at every problem is a solution, and dreaming that a pot of gold is at the end of the next rainbow to pay for it.

    Inequality is a fact of life, the best way to overcome it is determination and hard work, and having a role model (parents) who practice it. Yes of course there should not be discrimination against the less able or less fortunate, but positive discrimination against all others, in favour of the less fortunate and less able, is even worse, as it lowers the standard all round.

    Yes tax the high earners more by all means, but not to a degree or level where they no longer bother, or go elsewhere.

    No government should tax anyone at more than 50% it kills incentive.

    Likewise no one should get paid for doing absolutely nothing (unless you are sick or disabled in some way)

    The sooner we realise we have to encourage people to do the right thing and be responsible for looking after themselves (within the law) the sooner we will get out of the mess created by successive socialist polices of the last 50 years which has bankrupted our country and destroyed the self esteem of many.

    Ps: If ever there was a pot of gold at the end of the next rainbow, you can bet Gordon would have already sold it or mortgaged it.

    1. lifelogic
      August 18, 2011

      “Inequality is a fact of life” – indeed some are pretty, some are clever, some are fit, some are strong and some have musical, dancing, sport, determination or other abilities.

      All need to do their best with what they have been given. Happiness and fulfilment does not come from being rich anyway. But happiness rarely comes from being, often resentfully, dependent on the low state benefits and the labours of others for your income and existence.

      Unless you are genuinely unable to do any work this should simply not be an option train or work should be the only choice.

      1. Mike Stallard
        August 18, 2011

        From each according to his ability: to each according to their needs

        Karl Marx.

        It didn’t work then and it will not work now.

        1. lifelogic
          August 19, 2011

          No it won’t work if it is done in a top down by government policy and decree way.

      2. rose
        August 18, 2011

        And there is nothing more ruthless and cruel than a true meritocracy. So a little hierarchy and heredity is no bad thing. It can introduce civlization and gentility into what would otherwise be a dangerous jungle.

    2. uanime5
      August 18, 2011

      Determination and hard work are useless if there aren’t any jobs. Too many people seem to forget that the reason there are 2.5 million people unemployed is that there aren’t 2.5 million jobs for them to do.

      1. alan jutson
        August 18, 2011


        So you solution if there are no jobs (which I do not believe) is what exactly, sit on your arse and moan !.

        Ever heard of self employment and trying to compete with existing businesses for a simple service, grass cutting, window cleaning, car cleaning, painting.

        All of the above just require application, they are not highly skilled jobs, do not require a huge investment, and all pay far more than a minimum wage, because you set your own rates.

        The fact of the matter is people get too much for doing absolutely nothing, and that is what is bleeding us dry.

      2. Andrew
        August 18, 2011

        This is clearly nonsense. Millions of people have come from other European countries and found work, whilst 2million continued to sign on for free money.

        There is plenty of work, if people are prepared to move, work hard and accept that if they want a ‘good job’ they need to get off their arse and demonstrate to employers with good jobs that lazy Brits can work as hard as Bulgarians who understand the true meaning of poverty. They prove this by taking ANY job within reason.

        Taking money from other taxpayers because work ‘isn’t worth it’ is immoral.

      3. yudansha
        August 19, 2011

        Rubbish, Uanime5

        A complete reversal of reality.

      4. lifelogic
        August 19, 2011

        Jobs will come if the government get out of the way and stops preventing them by legislation, over taxing, green over priced energy and having a too large a state.

    3. electro-kevin
      August 18, 2011

      It shows what disproportionate power the Guardian wields. Low readership and unprofitable but our eminent host has to reply to it.

      When will its strangle hold end ?

  9. Elliot Kane
    August 18, 2011

    I hope you will forgive the posting of a link, Mr Redwood. I wrote this for my forum a few days ago, but it seems extraordinarily apposite, here – and more importantly, it’s something I think you may agree with very much.

    I’d post the whole thing here, but it runs long for a single post:

    Politics: The Economy:


  10. Brian Tomkinson
    August 18, 2011

    I could write my opinion of Harris (not very high)but it would probably be as baseless as his depiction of you. Suffice to say that I don’t expect to agree with his solutions to the country’s problems – if he has any.

  11. rose
    August 18, 2011

    I could say many things to Mr Harris, but one small point I would like to make here is that if you were just interested in being a rich politician, you wouldn’t be persevering on the back benches here: you would be an MEP. That is not intended as a slander of MEPS.

  12. David
    August 18, 2011

    Surely poverty is more important that inequality?

    For example if a terrorist group were to sabotage every power station in the UK tomorrow we would able be equal as our economy would be destroyed.
    (I don’t think that is possible but it is a hypothetical example).
    It would not be a better country as we would all be very poor.

  13. Alex
    August 18, 2011

    When anyone complains about inequality, I point them to this essay by Paul Graham:


    1. uanime5
      August 18, 2011

      The article can be summed up as ‘reducing economic inequality makes people less likely to take risks, which is bad’.

      Here’s an quote of the baseless scaremongering used by Paul Graham to justify letting the rich remain rich:

      “Once you sink that low, other countries can do whatever they like with you: install puppet governments, siphon off your best workers, use your women as prostitutes, dump their toxic waste on your territory– all the things we do to poor countries now. The only defense is to isolate yourself, as communist countries did in the twentieth century. But the problem then is, you have to become a police state to enforce it.”

  14. Winston Smith
    August 18, 2011

    Why are you bothering to convince Guardian hacks and readers of your sincerity towards improving equality? Once they have you suckered they will divest your writings, twist and manipulate them, to support their innate perception that they are morally superior and you are the bogeyman. They will NEVER EVER vote Tory. They hate you as much as they hate the aspiring working-class. Millions of ex-Tory voters are waiting to be invited to return to real Conservative policies. Until you offer this and tackle the hypocritical, self-serving middle-class media full-on, your party will never again win another general election.

  15. English Pensioner
    August 18, 2011

    The only inequality the left want is that which enables them to draw huge salaries running quangos and the like whose objectives are to see that the rest of us are all reduced to the lowest common denominator.
    In the case of a footballer or a pop star, they get their huge pay because people want what they are offering and are prepared to pay for it and it doesn’t cost the taxpayer a penny.
    However, there is much inequality to complain about and that is the outrageous salaries paid at the top of public bodies such as County Councils, the NHS , Quangos, etc. as compared with those doing similar work in the private sector. This is one form of inequality which needs to be stamped on – Hard!

  16. David John Wilson
    August 18, 2011

    While as you say we should not be jealous of the huge earnings of footballers we do need to question the ways that they can avoid tax on their earnings. (One footballer-ed)recently responded to criticism of his only paying 2% tax on his earnings that the limited company which he used as a vehicle for this tax avoidance actually paid 28% corporation tax. This means that he was still avoiding 20% of the 50% tax which should have been due. Thus while we should not be jealous of inequalities in earnings we surely have every right to complain about inequalities in tax treatment. I pay 40% on a small proportion of my earnings but cannot due to the take the same avoidance actions available to (the savvy footballer-ed) as my employer is unwilling to pay some of my salary as a “benefit in kind”. Surely it is about time the government stopped salaries being paid in this way.

  17. Antony
    August 18, 2011

    I agree that a certain amount of equality can be good. People should be rewarded for making a go of entering the workforce, therefore radically reducing marginal tax rates to assist people to make a transition from welfare to work is important. Also reward should be there for those who are virtuous and talented. However the huge financial rewards in our global financial system do not go to the virtuous or talented. Also higher levels of income inequality in wealthy countries are strongly associated with high levels of social problems, as the work of the Equality Trust has shown. Greater income inequality need not be achieved through redistribution alone. Inequality can be reduced by achieving smaller earning differences before relatively low taxation rates as is the case in Japan and regions of the US like New Hampshire. To get rid of inequality altogether is however unachievable and dangerously utopian along the lines of ‘year zero’.

  18. Cliff. Wokingham.
    August 18, 2011

    In my opinion, the left and that includes our current PM and DPM, confuse the terms “equality” and “being the same as.”
    Until it is accepted that not everyone is going to be a brain surgeon or a great sportsman, we will never solve the problems we have.
    The concept that everyone wins prizes is also folly and to kid youngsters otherwise, does more harm than good.

    In this country, everyone has access to a reasonable standard of education, even though it could be improved; people have access to housing and healthcare of a reasonable standard. Everyone has access to these things but, not everyone chooses to take advantage of these opportunities.
    I believe that whilst we provide education, healthcare and housing for all as we do now, we can sleep soundly with a clear conscience. We cannot force people to take advantage of the services and opportunities provided, but whislt people choose not to take up these opportunities, then there will always be haves and have nots.

    In general terms, anyone in the UK that wants to get on AND HAS THE ABILITY TO DO SO, can create for themselves a good life and reap the rewards that effort and ability brings.

    Both parents, and to some extent teachers, need to give guidance to their charges to help them to aspire to maximise their natural gifts and to learn useful skills that will help them improve the quality of their lives.
    Youngsters need to have guidance in matters of morality, integrity, the differences between right and wrong, a sound work ethic and a compassion for the less able or, in other words, all the traits and morals that made our country great in the past.
    Since the rise of the Liberal left on the one hand, we have seen a proportinate decline in our society on the other hand.

    1. Mike Stallard
      August 18, 2011

      “Youngsters need to have guidance in matters of morality, integrity, the differences between right and wrong, a sound work ethic and a compassion for the less able or, in other words, all the traits and morals that made our country great in the past.”
      And who do you propose will do this?
      You might like to go to the Times Educational Supplement sometime…….

  19. Mike Fowle
    August 18, 2011

    I agree with Alan Jutson. Incidentally, JR, did you not once describe one of your hobbies as not reading The Guardian. Sounds an excellent choice to me.

    1. lifelogic
      August 18, 2011

      Indeed it is always good and often very amusing to know how they (often young arts graduates who possess the socialist brain, the general feelings of envy, unfairness, feminism, a totally unreasoned religious green “belief” system and a bit of a chip on the shoulder) think of the World. Also the bizarre use of language where sensible discriminating and judging becomes a most damming criticism and words take on new meaning often for a year or two before moving on yet again to new in words.

      I have not read it for a while – perhaps I will take another look – but then again perhaps I get enough with radio 4 anyway.

  20. Geoff not Hoon
    August 18, 2011

    Mr.Redwood, I have no words to add to the excellent comments above other than to say I almost feel sorry for Mr.Harris. The man is clearly well educated and yet his contribution to society (so far) is limited to swipes at those (such as your goodself) who have tried over a long period to put the Great back into Britain. Reading the large number of replies to your reply in the Guardian it does still seem we have folk who because they have to find a job to exist believe it gives them the right to belly ache at either those at the so called top or those that have achieved wealth through other endeavours. Who was it said “work is the rent we pay for life”. Isnt Bill Gates a marvellous example, create a fortune and then use it to overcome some of the worst diseases known to man instead of sitting back counting his billions.
    I hope your blood pressure is in good order and none the worse for the article.

    1. lifelogic
      August 19, 2011

      “Isn’t Bill Gates a marvellous example, create a fortune and then use it to overcome some of the worst diseases known to man instead of sitting back counting his billions.”

      Perhaps but he really should pay something back after his poor software has wasted so many millions of hours of peoples time.

      1. Namari
        August 29, 2011

        Good points all around. Truly apperiacetd.

  21. Neil Craig
    August 18, 2011

    The Guardian publishing lies – who would have thunk it?

    However, John, in this thjread you seem to have accepted the “left’s definition of poverty. Poverty used to be & properly still is lack of money or income. The “left” has redefined it as income inequality. Thus, by their definition North Korea and Cuba have less “poverty” than South Korea and Hong Kong because although people are starving there almost everybnody is starving so nobody is “poor”.

    A job of government should be reducing poverty by iallowing increase of national wealth. ANYBODY, including Guardianistas who says this should take 2nd (or later) place to reducing inequality is, by definition, opposing reducing poverty. The “right” should not be browbeaten into accepting this Newspeak definition of the word and should make it quite clear that we, not they, are opposed to real poverty.

    The evidence is quite unequivocal that economic freedom, including freedom in energy production, leads to wealth and state interference, to produce equality or otherwise, tends to reduce this. An extra 1% growth will, in not many years, give even the poorest, more money than any practical redistribution could.

    Whether, or rather how much, it is the state’s duty to reduce income inequality is an arguable question. Machiavelli and many other historical thinkers were of the opinion that gross income inequality tends to produce a less effective society (eg the later Roman Empire). On the other hand few have said that total equality is either possible or desirable. Pournelle is clearly right to point out the ultimate dicotomy of what state power used for this objective could achieve – “Free men are not equal and equal men are not free.

  22. forthurst
    August 18, 2011

    The piece is an attack on Cameron. JR is simply a throwaway example of the left’s idea of an evil righty. JR’s problem is that most of his erstwhile spiritual colleagues have been purged leaving only himself, a solitary voice of reason amid a sea of fudge and doublethink.

    Cameron needs to explain why it’s ok for himself to go to a selective school, but not ok for those who can’t afford fees. He needs to explain why immigrants who have been educated abroad ( are better able to get jobs than people educated in the UK – I think he has in mind ed) – I am fed up with being told by relatives that they had started their children in the public sector and found they were bored, unhappy and not learning anything and then transfered them to private schools with an immediate all round improvement. Making exams easier, making subjects studied less academic is not the answer. If I didn’t know otherwise, I would regard it as deliberate sabotage; actually I don’t otherwise.

  23. WitteringWitney
    August 18, 2011

    Having met John Harris, rest assured all he is interested in is John Harris!

  24. BendyGirl
    August 18, 2011


    Dear Mr Redwood,
    I am one of the Founders of The Broken of Britain campaign against cuts to disability benefits and services. Thank you for your heartening statement “I am a softy when it comes to more public money and facilities for the disabled.” it is much appreciated as we sick and disabled people feel a distinct lack of political allies in our battle to save our already stretched benefits and services. One of the most severely disabled young women in England has written the above blog post to explain that changes to the level of Local Housing Allowance mean she will have to move, despite her level of disability and how she is selling her christmas presents to try and pay her rent shortfall. If you could offer any advice to her via us I would be incredibly grateful, thank you very much Kaliya Franklin aka @bendygirl

    1. Winston Smith
      August 18, 2011

      We gave up buying Christmas presents in my family for all, but children, owing to our collective, decreasing disposable income. One of my financial burdens is the 2.5m receiving disability benefits. I applaud any attempts to reduce this burden.

    2. rose
      August 18, 2011

      Though no-one wants to discuss individual cases, it isn’t clear whether the problem is geographical or not. Some neighbourhoods have become very much more expensive to live in than others. That first became the case years ago, when rates were levied on notional rental values, regardless of income. People supporting themselves and their families can’t live in such places either, and haven’t been able to for decades. But people on housing benefit have been able to in the last few years. Can you clarify? (Generally speaking, not in this individual case.)

    3. alan jutson
      August 18, 2011

      Bendy girl

      Shame the poll tax got repealed, then individual bills would be significantly lower, a far more fair tax system than the present Council tax.

    4. JimF
      August 18, 2011

      My advice is to target your anger at those taking from the public sector purse in an unwarranted way. Sadly, you might have realised, the government has finally come up against a brick wall in what it can tax and spend. No more can be added. If you get more somebody else has to get less. Whom do you suggest?

  25. Johnny Truth Teller
    August 18, 2011

    >Boudicca: ‘failed socialist dogmas that have brought this country to its knees’. Funny, I’m pretty sure what has brought this country, and many others, to its kness is the failed practices or city Bankers and the centre-right Governments that have overseen their profligacy. Do remind me which socialist policies contributed to the banking crisis (of capitalist greed). Looking forward to your reponse.

    Reply: the last Labour government’s policies of bank regulation, low interest rates,changed inflation targets and enocuragement of more mortgage debt.

    1. Johnny Truth Teller
      August 22, 2011

      Ha! – what a pathetic reply. The Tories would have had even less Bank Regulation and probably would have tried to sell off Government offices as Sub-prime call centres. You could have gone for the old mantra of Labour’s excessive spending during boom times (which the Tories voted for). However, you would have still been wrong. A system that allows profits to ride roughshot over common sense will always be one heading for collapse. Get prepared for the autumn where the banks will do their best to squander your savings, national stability and any foreseeable economic growth as the panic begins to set in again.

  26. Susan
    August 18, 2011

    Having had the opportunity to read the full article, I understand what John Harris is trying to say, but unfortunately he has allowed his politics to interfere with his ability to put it over correctly, and come up with the right answers.

    There is a problem at the moment, not only for the Conservatives, but for Politicians in general, with regard to working class people. Having come from a very poor working class background myself, I can see the disconnect, not just from the so called underclass. Both Tony Blair and David Cameron have the ability to inspire and connect with people, but are not able to solve the problems of working class people, because they do not understand them in the first place. This misplaced empathy, that more well off Politicians have towards those born less well off, is not only patronizing, but causing all sorts of problems. An ordinary, hard working class person, if they were in Government, would come down much harder on the feckless in society, knowing full well the problems of inequality are not solved with money. Each Government that comes into power thinks they can solve inequality by giving more taxpayer money away. The only real solution to inequality, as I know myself, is good education and for those less able, the ability to gain a skill, this opens all the right doors to a productive life. The developing Countries understand this concept very well. Throwing money at problems is the cause of all the UKs difficulties in the first place.

    I quite often ask people why they dislike Politicians, and the answer is nearly always the same,’ because they do not live in the real World’. We have some working class people in Politics, but very few good ones. Most adhere to the politics of envy. What is needed is people who come from the bottom of the pile, understand the problems, have worked their way up in an ordinary job. Tough talking and harsh measures is the medicine the UK needs, from people who have lived the problems and understand them, not the dream like politics that we have at the moment.

    Otherwise we will continue to see the awful spectacle of people like Prince Charles and others, wondering around Tottenham, giving opinions on something they know absolutely nothing about, and the disconnet will continue and grow.

    1. rose
      August 18, 2011

      Norman Tebbit is a very good example of what you rightly say we are lacking in government now. And didn’t the lumpenintelligentsia loathe him?

      1. Susan
        August 19, 2011


        I seem to remember it was Mr, Tebbit that said ‘get on your bike to find work’. I believe Iain Duncan Smith made the same sort of comment, but he used bus instead. Both I believe got into trouble from Unions etc for saying it.

        I agree with them both, I had to move to find work, and it is a necessary step, that people need to take these days if there is no work available in the area in which you live. Some British people just sit waiting for work to fall into their lap, instead of looking beyond their immediate area.

    2. yudansha
      August 19, 2011


      When I told my MP of my concerns that Britain was becoming a tinderbox he said I should be more concerned about Tibet.

      He was shamed in the expenses scandal and lost at election.

    3. lifelogic
      August 19, 2011

      “Prince Charles and others, wondering around Tottenham” Oh well at least he went but I thought it was Croydon? Anyway, I assume he was suggesting that with their “doubtless plenty of spare money” they rebuild it with a PV roof, ground source heat pumps and a wind mill or two. Perhaps including an alternative medicine complex and make sure it is at least 50 foot above sea level because he has heard some inside information from the new green Noahs about future sea levels.

      Also perhaps they might learn a few lessons from Poundbury!

      1. Susan
        August 19, 2011

        You are probably right, lifelogic, it may have been Croydon, I was that busy cringing, that I took little notice of the actual location.

  27. JoolsB
    August 18, 2011

    Totally agree, the socialist’s idea of equality of redistributing wealth is both unfair and unworkable, always has been, always will be but inequality takes on many forms. One of the greatest inequalities of all in ‘this country’ at present is the way England, having no-one to represent it, is being targeted by the UK Government to bear the brunt of the cuts to plug the deficit, whether it be tuition fees, prescription charges, care for the elderly or only England’s assets being sold off and much more. This is the great growing inequality which is causing much resentment in this not so United Kingdom and I think the Tories will come to regret their refusal to even acknowlege this inquality come the next election never mind speak out against it for their constituents. Shamefully Mr. Cameron’s speech on the riots this week never once mentioned the word ENGLAND, the word politicians are afraid to speak for fear we English may realise we’re not all in this together. Whilst Scotland, Wales & NI have their own legislature, their own First Minister, their own Secretary of State, we have none of these and have to accept what’s best for England being decided by MPs with non-English seats and who are therefore not accountable to the English electorate but they can’t make those same decisions for their own constituents to whom they should be accountable and who is speaking up for our students, our sick and our elderly against this inequality for the people of England – absolutely no-one, certainly not Mr. Cameron who has dubbed us sour little Englanders for daring to want equality with the rest of the UK . Mr. Cameron goes around the world preaching democracy and self determinations for other countries whilst conveniently ignoring the lack of democracy to 55 million people much closer to home.

  28. outsider
    August 18, 2011

    You make some good points, Mr Redwood. But it is vital to distinguish between poverty and inequality.

    Few would disagree that the better-off should subsidize through taxation those who are made poor by losing their jobs, by being widowed, severely injured, chronically sick or physically or mentally disabled from economical work. As you say, the only argument is about the most efficient ways of raising the sums needed.

    The tough one is about pre-tax inequality between those who can and do work hard in the economy. The free market is great at optimising use of resources but not at who ends up with what share of the resulting income.

    That is decided by demand and supply and many of the differences are accounted for by our attempts to change the balance of demand and supply in our favour, usually by restricting supply through qualifications, educational quotas, regulation, restrictive practices or subtler means such as the pyramidal system of management. As an unkind example, the political class ensures ( maybe with good reason) that there is no chance of electing MPs by a modified tender.

    History tells us why the majority of workers are “relatively poor” . The Black Death removed a third of the working population; wages soared and rents tumbled. Result: the aristocracy swiftly imposed strict pay controls backed up by harsh punishments for anyone who refused to work at the old low pay and then by a poll tax.

    Ever since, the intellectual, financial and political elite has ensured that there are plenty of new supplies of cheap labour at the lower end of the market: dispossessed peasants, children, ex-servants, mothers, middle-class women and now immigrants and migrant workers, supplemented in future by the over-65s.

    The only fundamental way to reduce pre-tax inequality in a market economy is the simplest one: to restrict the supply of labour at the bottom end of the market.

    Unless politicians and business got together to sort out a different way to move ahead, that could have dire consequences for the rate of growth of the economy. But that does not seem to worry those who merrily restrict supply further up the ladder, whether it be of chief executives, nurses or electricians.

    Reply: Government needs to make sure the market does not allow some to exploit monopoly or cartel to be overrewarded, and to supplement the incomes of those whose worthwhile jobs do not command sufficient income. Pricing public service, a monopoly, is difficult. MPs are the one category where at recent elections there was a kind of reverse auction kin some seats, as some candidiates promised to cut their costs to the taxpayer as part of their offer.

    1. outsider
      August 18, 2011

      Just heard via radio of a lad with great A-levels who cannot get a place to study dentistry, a classic case of restricting supply where there appears to be a shortage.

      1. sm
        August 18, 2011

        Probably the same with Medicine in the UK, not much chance of alternative providers raising the supply to meet the demand of the would be (part/full self funded) students. Perhaps we also need another qualifying body in the UK for Medicine.

      2. lifelogic
        August 19, 2011

        Does one really need great A levels and 7 years training to attend to teeth?

        Surely it is a manual job in the main rather simpler than fixing an ipod. Perhaps he should study it abroad – India maybe – probably rather more cheaply and more down to earth too.

        The Irish Dentist a father of someone I knew had a favourite greeting on returning from work of: “Jesus what ever you do son do not become a dentist – my back is killing me.”

    2. Tedgo
      August 18, 2011

      I think the current minimum wage is too low, it needs raising by £2 to £3 per hour. This would make the trickle down more effective and provide a more realistic and attractive wage to get people out of bed.

      Even on this blog people call for the removal of the 48 hour working directive. I think anyone who expects people to regularly work more than 40 hours a week, in this day and age, can only be described as sad and not very good at man management. People need time with their families and kids.

      1. alan jutson
        August 19, 2011


        Do you know why companies like people to work overtime ?

        It is because it is the most profitable work for the company to complete.

        All of its fixed overheads are normally set against a 40 hour working week, as are the variable overheads used within th 40 hours, when people work extra hours, only variable overheads apply.

        Fixed overheads are things like rent, mortgage, insurance, bank charges, property maintainace, vehicle depreciation, machinery depreciation.

        Variable overheads are much less per hour of operation, heat, light, power, wages. so even if you pay more in wages for the overtime element it is still less cost per hour than in a normal working day hour.

    3. outsider
      August 18, 2011

      Thank you for your reply.
      I cannot agree that it is healthy for millions of full-time workers to subsidize other millions of full time workers permanently via taxation (except perhaps for children). The better-off should pay for the lion’s share of public services but that is not the same as redistributing income through the tax system. That is why I always agreed with the minimum wage.

      However, it would be much better to restrict new supplies of cheap labour because this would operate naturally through the free market to make living standards less unequal. It would also avoid the drawbacks of the minimum wage, for instance for the employment chances of the least able.

  29. Paul H
    August 18, 2011

    At university one of the questions with which I used to bait my socialist friends was: “Suppose you have a choice between two systems. In one everybody has £1. In the other, 99% of people have £10 whilst 1% have £100. Which do you prefer?” They usually side-stepped the question by saying that it was hypothetical and unrealistic.
    Of course, my question was designed as a trap (admittedly obvious) for my friends. If their political principles, claimed to have superior moral values to my own, could not provide an answer they liked for such a simple binary case then my friends had no right to demand their unequivocal application to the real world. But it does pose an important question – is apparently obscene inequality bad, if the alternative is that everyone is worse off? To the extent that wealth represents the ability to command the labour of others and has been accumulated at the expense of others the answer may appear obvious. However an economy is rarely a purely zero-sum game.

  30. zorro
    August 18, 2011

    As others say, I would, as I’m sure many others do, take his view with a hefty pinch of salt. At least he’s not calling you an alien (they’ve been there, done that). All I would say is that Mr Harris’s opinions are most illogical….


    1. lifelogic
      August 19, 2011

      Logic is not a strong point for the left they usually stick to beliefs, rather warped but well meaning principals, equality of outcome and the general politics of envy.

  31. Bazman
    August 18, 2011

    Often inequality is used as a tool of exploitation. The East Europeans were seen as a ‘magic bullet’ as they were more desperate now they are becoming less desperate other cheap sources of labour are being searched for. Without the minimum wage what would the average wage be? The trickle down effect has been largely disproved, but would still work at a local level. Many dirt poor nations with rich natural resources do not see any trickle down and Britain got a bad deal from the banks trickle down.

  32. uanime5
    August 18, 2011

    Could the reason people considered right wing parties only support the rich be due to Osborn’s plan to cut the 50% tax rate (only the rich benefit), while Clegg’s plan involves raising tax thresholds so the poor pay less tax? While the Conservatives do try to help the poor they try much harder to help the rich.

    1. Andrew
      August 18, 2011

      I realise you are probably typing this from some student union or public sector computer and don’t get out much, but surely you understand that some of ‘your’ poor people require employment not just by the local council, but by businesses and that successful, growing, hiring businesses are created and run by high achievers who are rewarded through high earnings?

      If the government takes over two thirds of the reward for working harder, you’d stop working harder wouldn’t you? You’d say, I’m successful enough; what’s the point of working harder and taking risks (expanding the business) only to give most of the reward to the government to pay 131 ‘executives’ in Hackney council, amongst other things.

      If you have to fill in 300 forms on whether or not your new post is open to 3 legged lesbian barn owls and therefore ‘fair’, you wouldn’t bother creating it would you?

      If, say, Switzerland or Singapore said ‘come and set your business up here and you can keep 70% of the wealth you create – after all, you will create jobs for our poor people and spend your money in our country, supporting our other businesses’. Well, you would wouldn’t you?

      If people shout at you in the street that you are capitalist scum, who doesn’t pay his fair share, when in fact those people have been educated (poorly) with the £100,000 you paid in tax last year via Income Tax, VAT, stamp duty, CGT, NI and so on, you’d be pretty cheesed off wouldn’t you? After all, how is it you aren’t paying your fair share when in fact you are paying more than 5 other people combined, none of whom may work as hard as you and may have come from substantially more privileged backgrounds than you?

      Not all ‘The Rich’ are bankers you know. Some of them, you know, set up real businesses that employ real people, making them less poor. We need them doing it more, not less.

      Grow up a bit and try and meet some people who aren’t just like you.

      1. A different Simon
        August 19, 2011

        Well said .

  33. Bazman
    August 18, 2011

    Another way to increase your ‘equality’ is to pay off your mortgage, own your house/car outright and have some spare cash. Only then can you be equal to the rich and in charge of your own destiny and free from threats to your children, as your own Landlord. Many employers are afraid of this and for the last few months have amused myself by testing this theory with employers and potential employers and enjoying good motorbike weather. It’s obvious in many cases they want desperate people afraid for their jobs willing to travel long distances for little money. (Cue bored, polite voice) This attitude of not taking the first job which came along has lead to an interesting job using my skills paying the market rate walking distance from my house. The employer is in the same position as me owning property/ plant outright. Banks and rental companies can ram it. If the economy improves and I get a better job I might change up a gear. If not bad employers can ram it and it will be business as usual. Problem for them if there where to many like me. New Black Death laws would not be far away for sure.

    1. rose
      August 18, 2011

      There is a lot in this Bazman. I once had a job where a newly arrived human resources bully tried to make me do some ridiculous bureacracy. I declined, very politely of course, as I had real work to do, and being a part timer, I needed all my hours to do it in, as I didn’t have lunchbreaks or fag breaks etc. She then threatened me with the sack, and I accepted with alacrity. The boss was devastated, and I was taken aback to be given a most heart-warming leaving party, with lots of presents and speeches. Her furious face was a picture. “What did you do to deserve all this?”, she said to me. She had evidently not come across kindness, friendship, and gratitude “in the workplace” before.

      1. Bazman
        August 19, 2011

        What is the difference between beer & lager? One is fermented and the other is not.

  34. Kenneth
    August 18, 2011

    Very good post.

    I can’t imagine any MP – or any sane person – who wants to see anybody poor or unhappy.

    I hate it when comedians and journalists characterise right wing policies as uncaring.

    This is particularly cruel when it is aimed at somebody like Margaret Thatcher who may not be in a position to defend herself these days. She cared very much about people. I would have thought that was obvious.

    The Guardian is the same newspaper that trawled through thousands of Mrs Palin’s emails in order to dig dirt. Its main promoter, the BBC, even ran a news story on the anticipated trouble it may cause Mrs Palin. BBC and Guardian staff even exchanged excited Twitters with each other.

    Imagine the horror when The Guardian found evidence of Mrs Palin just doing her job as a Governor, not to mention evidence of several acts if kindness on her part.

    I truly believe that Gordon Brown is a caring person. I understand he is a nice chap. unfortunately his policies have resulted – and will continue to result in – misery for millions of people. I notice how quickly the Guardian and the BBC have forgiven him.

    1. rose
      August 18, 2011

      And we could remind people of the long drawn out trawl led by the Guardian and BBC to dig up dirt on Denis Thatcher. What did they find? That he, who had been so generous with his private means in helping to entertain people for the public good, and in supporting his wife, had actually written one letter on Number Ten writing paper while he was living there! They never let us forget that. They, with all their first class travel through life, at other people’s expense. They made sure it was a major political scandal.

    2. JimF
      August 18, 2011

      Gordon Brown? Not a nice chap. Misguided and delusional. Uncaring apart from in his unstinting efforts to turn society upside down so that the lunatics are running the asylum, so to speak.

    3. lifelogic
      August 19, 2011

      I even hear someone on radio 4 saying the riots had their origin in Margaret Thatcher and her policies of 1979!

      1. rose
        August 19, 2011

        As they did too at the time, starting with the Spring riot of 1980, in Bristol – less than a year after she had become PM. Conservatives have to face the fact that they have some very violent enemies, and stop apologising for it.

      2. Bazman
        August 20, 2011

        The only difference is. Come and get it. Thatchers government had the police on her side. Cameron does not.

        1. simple soul
          August 24, 2011

          Or you could say the 1980s police had the government on their side (until they caved in to Scarmanisation) and the police today do not. Worse still for the police is that they no longer have the public wholeheartedly on their side.

  35. BobE
    August 18, 2011

    Heath destroyed our independence
    Thatcher destroyed the Industries.
    Blair destroyed education.
    Cameron will sell us to Europe to give himself a job

  36. Alex Thrower
    August 19, 2011

    Dear John. Much in your article embraces the higher ideals of left and right I suspect but ultimately social malaise must arise from perceived inequality – not of wealth but entitlement and opportunity – at all levels – and these ultimately leave us with visible fault lines in our social fabric. Justice, equality of opportunity, respect and work for all are the difficult missions we have to embrace as a nation. Your rejection of tribal politics in moving the UK forward inspires hope.

  37. Javelin
    August 19, 2011

    The left wing rely on the trick of turning an adjective into a noun – they rely on the trick of switching the noun to suit themselves. So first you need to clarify what is the noun that is unequal. Is is Government spending, opportunity or outcomes.

    Thus when you say I don’t believe in there existing equality in outcomes they will scream you don’t believe in equality.

    I think you need to present to the left a range of nouns for the left to say is equal or unequal. Or simply accuse them of poor grammar and claim their own poor education is disabling their thinking process.

  38. Joseph McCaffrey
    August 19, 2011

    I imagine, like most leftist guardian types, he is using remarkable powers of conflation to arrive at the conclusion that belief in a small state that spends and taxes less is incompatible with a wish to tackle equality.

    I would also imagine that he has never taken the time to look at the example of Hong Kong, with a relatively small government at about 23% of GDP and low taxes to match – but one in which all tax is paid by the top 40% of earners and the bottom 40% are actually net recievers due to the tax credits system. But of course to a guardian man the rapid growth in wealth and low levels of poverty couldn’t possibly have anything to do with low taxes.

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