During Labour’s long recent period in government income inequalities in the UK went up. Now they are back in opposition most Labour MPs say that crusading for equality is one of their main motives for being in politics. Why would it be any different next time they are in government, than last time? Why should we believe them that they now both know how to increase equality and will do it?
They could start by saying the Labour MPs will no longer take three times the national average wage as salary for being MPs but would be happy with average wages. They could go on and say that in future their party will put a three line whip on them to turn up every day Parliament is in session, so they have to be more like a factory or office worker who has to come to work every day the office or factory is open. At the moment there are many days when Parliament is in session when Labour does not whip their MPs to turn up and some do not turn up.
They could move on to saying that a future Labour government would show in the way it ran the public sector how income inequalities could be reduced or eliminated. It could promise not to appoint new management, Directors and other senior personnel on salaries offering a many times multiple of the average wage. Indeed, if they really believed in equality they should say that being a manager or Director of a public service is a privilege which people would want to do, whilst still earning the same as the average of those doing the work in the organisation concerned.
They could say that to create a more equal country they need to stop richer parents being able to buy a better education for their children. They could promise to prevent UK children attending the excellent independent schools, leaving them to be export only, inviting in fee paying foreign students.
They could say that inherited wealth is one of the main causes of inequality in modern Britain. Instead of increasing the threshold before paying IHT, and leaving the rate where it is, they could promise to cut the IHT threshold and put up the rate.
They could abolish the state lottery, on the grounds that people should not become very rich overnight for no effort because they have bought a lucky ticket.
In practice Labour will offer to do none of these things, and will do none of them should they return to office. I am certainly not advocating any of these policies myself, but I do not go round promising to do what it would take to enforce greater equality on a complex society. I believe in greater equality of opportunity, and helping people to become better off, not in trying to tax people out of the UK. Tomorrow I will look at why Labour rightly does not even believe in income equality at work.