Socialist Worker

New Labour's 'more equal society'

Issue No. 2050

“In politics, the acid test is what you end up achieving. Judge us after ten years of success in office. For one of the fruits of that success will be that Britain has become a more equal society.”
Peter Mandelson speaking in 1997. Tony Blair’s right hand man was announcing the formation of a Social Exclusion Unit to tackle inequality, shortly after New Labour came to power.

  • £360bn is the total wealth of the thousand richest people in Britain today. This is 260 percent more than ten years ago.

    Average wealth, in contrast, has risen by only 120 percent – and that’s almost all down to spiralling house prices.

  • 34.7 is the most recent figure for the Gini Index in Britain, which measures income inequality on a scale of 0 to 100. When Blair took power the index stood at 33, so inequality has actually risen under New Labour. In 1979 the index stood at just 25.
  • 12.7m people today live in relative poverty after housing costs are taken into account. Last year saw the largest annual rise in relative poverty since 1994.
  • 98:1 is the current ratio between what the average FTSE 100 chief executive is paid and what the average British employee earns each year. In 2000 this ratio stood at 39:1.

    Fat cat pay has soared under New Labour, while workers’ wages have remained more or less stagnant after inflation is taken into account.

  • 31,600 pensioners died as a result of the cold during the winter of 2005. That is the highest such figure for five years – the human cost of Blair’s worship of wealth.

By Mandelson’s own “acid test” Labour has acheived nothing.

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