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Inequality and the 1%: What Scotland might not miss about England

Danny Dorling’s Edinburgh lecture has been largely avoided by the mainstream media, here’s why.

Dorling is one of the most respected academics in Britain on poverty, economics and social policy. He’s the author of You Think You Know About Britain and, most recently, The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality.

The central conceit driving the ‘Vote No get Yes’ story is that Labour (or some kind of benevolent political force will ride to the rescue, at some point in the future). It’s a bit vague I know and Miliband’s actions make a nonsense of this, but that doesn’t stop it being repeated like a sort of comforting folk memory. This lecture and his key findings destroy that idea.

On Labour’s record in office he says simply:

There were a couple of years where they managed to hold things a bit still but they rose under New Labour so what kind of a political party is it if its happy for a society to become more unequal? You could say things were getting so much worse it was too hard do anything about people at the top of the Labour Party in government in in London just didn’t understand economics that well. But I don’t think people at the top of the Labour Party, particularly the Chancellor, who later became Prime Minister, would say that he didn’t understand economics that well.

On austerity, he says:

We haven’t done austerity for the better off, less austerity for the worst off. We’ve done austerity that most affects the worst off and you could even add after lone parents with children, its lone parents with disabled children. I looks very callous.

On the future he adds:

America is more unequal than the UK. This really matters because my feeling is the current plan of the Westminster parties is to become more like the USA. Maybe in a slightly more humane way but not to worry too much about it.

The Wreford Watson Lecture, University of Edinburgh, June 12th 2014 is here:

Inequality and the 1%

Comments (8)

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  1. Adam Neilson says:

    It’s exactly the same with the masses of evidence given to various Holyrood Committees by senior figures at OXFAM Scotland, the Joseph Rowntree Trust (Scotland), Inclusion Scotland, CPAG Scotland, The Poverty Alliance, and individual experts like Morag Gillespie.

    The media is there.
    They even write things down.

    But I’ve yet to see a single article about that often shocking – but factual evidence.
    It’s exactly the same thing when internationally-acclaimed and massively experienced professors of Economics provide both written submissions and verbal evidence supporting the independent Fiscal Commission Working Group’s proposals (first published – then deliberately suppressed – in it’s 226-page report, Feb 2013) that a Sterling based currency union would be the best option for BOTH countries.
    The Commission gave it’s reasons, and looked at all the options in great detail.
    Yet people still think those proposals come from Salmond and a few civil servants !
    That and other Commission reports (proposals for at ‘oil funds’, taxation. fiscal rules etc) have been studied by other leading economists – Professors Anton Muscatelli, Leslie Young, Peter McGregor, David Simpson, Gavin McCrone and others (including Mark Carney), and ALL agree that the FCWG/Scottish Governments’s proposals are the best option.
    But when did we see an article reporting what those genuine experts are saying ?

    Instead we get claims from Darling, Alexander, Osborne, McDougall, Mundell, and Carmichael that ‘all the expert advice supports the Treasury …..’ – and they’re never challenged with a long list of named and vastly experienced Professors (including at least two Nobel Laureates) who have called the Treasury evidence/position ‘nonsense’, ‘economic vandalism’, and worse.
    Nor are they ever asked to name some of those ‘independent experts’ who support the Treasury. I can think of one, but when the Euro crisis started he also said that the Euro was doomed, and later admitted he knew nothing about the referendum debate.
    There area few minor economists – PhD’s and former senior Treasury officials, but as they’re all funded by Westminster they could never be called ‘independent’ (that’s the IFS and NIESR).

    Same with renewables. In April Dr David Toke shocked the room with his factual evidence proving that Westminster has been lying about renewables and subsidies. Another witness showed the MSP’s that Westminster has been hiding to true costs of Hinkley ‘C’ in the ‘normal’ tax budgets.

    All the above, and much more, should have been the lead items on BBC/Radio Scotland news, and front page in ‘our’ newspapers.

    There was …… nothing.

    And we all know why.

    Perhaps someone at BC should have a look at those evidence sessions and the written submissions ? Finance Committee and the Economic, Energy, and Tourism Committee are where you’ll find the suppressed stuff – and it’s all available online.

    1. Adam, the media is almost completely the lapdog of the establishment, so it’s a waste of time complaining. I should know. I’ve been around the houses of the M.S.M. At the best you get a reply that is waffle, and at the worst they just ignore you. That is why we need these sites as it’s the only method of getting the truth out to real people. That is apart from what I’ve just been doing, and that is going around homes with the latest Yes survey. We will win. More and more houses are sporting Yes window posters, and the same applies to cars. We will win, despite the media, and it will go down as one of the greatest democratic victories, ever.

  2. Dan Huil says:

    Don’t worry, I’m sure Scottish Labour “working-class heroes” like Baron Reid of Cardowan and Lord Foulkes of Cumnock will be rushing to the rescue of Scotland’s poor. Any year now…

  3. YESGUY says:

    Reading that piece only made me angry. And more determined to vote YES in September.

    What kind of country have we become when wars and poverty are the norm in the 21st Century .

    Union is dead and i will never vote labour regardless of the vote. They are the tory’s puppets and have bad mouthed Scots from the start. I hope the labour part disband. They failed the people they were supposed to represent. Troughers. what a great word. Sums them up exactly.

    I believe we are winning the campaign and hope we never forget the blogs of Bella , Wings etc for the incredible work they have done.

    Cracking site . Thanks now and forever.

  4. Clootie says:

    The only hope of ever building a fairer society anywhere on this island is to vote YES in September.

  5. ashulte1 says:

    Reblogged this on (re)Presenting the Past and commented:
    More on income inequality – here, related to America as well.

  6. Optimistic Till I Die says:

    I think I am ‘on message’ re the UK moving in the American direction. If so, here is a small quote from an unpublished novel that seems relevant and ought to encourage some reflection. It concerns an interview of an American candidate by a Uk political party seeking a spin doctor. I’ll leave readers to work out which one, though given the public statements of the major UK parties, they might find that difficult.

    “Beauregarde merely smiled, oblivious to the background murmuring. ‘It is also true that I claim, “There is no shame in being poor.” If you are poor in America, that is a declaration of the individualistic, American way. Those in poverty are the bedrock of society.’

    Admittedly, Beauregarde was standing, but the Rt. Hon Joseph Petal, the Opposition Chief Whip, claimed afterwards the tenor of his speech gave the impression of tub-thumping from the pulpit. Petal only had to close his eyes to imagine him, arms raised, on the verge of slinging fire and brimstone down on the interview panel, wondering if he would make due allowance for members of the clergy.

    ‘If,’ Beauregarde said, ‘a society has different strata of individuals: from rich to poor.’ He paused, allowing the panel to digest his comment, then emphasised the point. ‘Preferably a lot more poor than rich. This provides incentives for personal development, something lacking in our moribund Eur-peen cousins.’

    At this point, Beauregarde angled his head, deeming it politic to add a qualifier, sufficient to mollify his hosts. ‘I exclude, of course, from the Eur-peen nexus, our English friends, at least since the time Tony Blair entered office.’”

    Having a lot of cheap labour might seem like good economics. It isn’t. It’s also morally indefensible when there are alternatives.

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