Neglecting to address inequality would be an admission of defeat.


I like the start of Tom Harris’ recent post on Labour’s attitude to wealth:

THERE’S a terrific scene in the TV adaptation of Chris Mullin’s A Very British Coup in which the newly-elected left wing prime minister, Harry Perkins, is catching the train to London and is asked by a journalist: “Do you intend to abolish first class, Mr Perkins?” To which Perkins replies: “No, I intend to abolish second class. I think everybody’s first class, don’t you?”

Unfortunately it’s pretty much downhill from there.

Admittedly it was obvious that Tom Harris MP was not going to be outlining his own ideas of how to bring about a classless society. The title of the post (“Capping private wealth would be an admission of defeat”) kind of gave the game away. Tom is writing in emphatically New Labourer-than-thou mode.

As Sunder Katwala points out in a brilliantly thorough reply, Tom is perhaps even being more ‘New Labour’ than New Labour itself.

I hope Tom reads it. It is disturbing to see a Labour MP using the sort of language that gives succour to those who oppose all efforts to reduce material inequality in this country.

Taxation of the wealthy is “a necessary evil”. Compass’ call for a High Pay Commission is “dog whistle politics”. Government intervention in the market to dictate wages will apparently start leading to mass nationalisations. The post is tagged with “the politics of envy”. Exactly the same sort of stuff was said of the government’s decision to introduce the 50% income tax rate.

I’m not a fan of Compass and I don’t know much about how this High Pay Commission would work. Saying that, I’m not convinced that Tom does either. Calls to reduce income inequality should not be so blithely dismissed – even if the proposed methods of accomplishing this are not totally convincing.

It’s nice to see Tom – whose blog is No 1 in the ‘blogging MP’ category according to Toryboy Iain Dale – discussing policy. But surely he isn’t comfortable when right-wing bloggers are singing the praises of his hyperbolic denunciation of an egalitarian proposal. Surely not.


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