If There’s One Single Issue You Should Vote On, It’s This…

by , under Current Affairs, Economics, Politics

parliament

So the General Election that we all knew was coming is finally out in the open. How should you vote? How should we decide how to vote?

I think that there is a single issue that we should all be asking our prospective representatives about: income equality. If you get a chance to speak to those seeking your vote, ask them simply this: how will your policies decrease the gap between the richest and poorest?

Why? Because, as I’ve blogged here before, income inequality is the single most important factor when it comes to impacting outcomes across a huge range of measures. Obesity, teenage pregnancy, drug misuse, violent crime, prison populations, mental health problems, community tension…. all of these increase with increased inequality. So, as has been so brilliantly been set out in The Spirit Level, if we want to make people healthier, reduce crime, increase community cohesion, reduce the number of people in prison and make people happier we should focus not just on throwing money at these problems, but at reducing income inequality.

This is what you need to ask of each party’s policies. And if it doesn’t add up, they shouldn’t get your vote. If you want to go ahead and ask, then click here to be put straight through to your MP or other representative, visit The Equality Trust’s website to explore the evidence for yourself, or watch this rather brilliant short film which outlines the issues:

(Update: list of candidates who have signed the ‘Equality Pledge’ here. If yours aren’t on it, lobby them to do so here.)


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  1. KB

    If you mean they are correlated with one another, yes, absolutely right. But as a single, national measure – something that can be put as an overall policy goal – income equality is what we should be aiming at.

  2. Simon

    Did you see the IFS report today? It says that Tory poster about Brown increasing the gap between rich and poor is total bollocks: ‘The tax and benefit measures implemented by Labour since 1997 have increased the incomes of poorer households and reduced those of richer ones, largely halting the rapid rise in income inequality we saw under the Conservatives.’

    But it also says that, because of other external factors, inequality has increased over the same period. Which means that it isn’t as simple as asking which politicians have it as an aim. That would make it tricky to use as a single issue.

  3. KB

    Good stuff:

    Labour’s tax and benefit reforms have reduced income inequality compared with what would have happened if benefits and tax credits had simply been uprated in line with prices, the normal practice of the previous Conservative government. Labour’s tax and benefit reforms thus seem to have prevented a larger rise in income inequality.

    If you want to download/read the full IFS report, you can find it here.

    The idea of one single issue is an over-simplification, but I do think that this could be used as a way of judging other policies. If they reduce income equality, good. If not, they need re-thinking.