Saturday, 17 January 2009

"Equality doesn't play well but fairness does"

"There is a strong sense that the response to the difficulties we face needs to be a fair one," Yvette Cooper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told the audience during this morning's debate: 'Do equality's enemies have the better pitch?'.

Whilst a recent Fabian poll suggested the public's appetite for fairness is increasing- 75% support the new top tax rate- they remain less enthusiastic about the notion of equality. Many at the top feel they would lose if society levelled out.

With this in mind, Deborah Mattinson of Chime Communications, pointed out that it's "quite easy to get the policy right but get the language wrong".

“Equality doesn’t play well but fairness does,” explained the director of Counterpoint, Catherine Fieschi.

The panel, which also included Paul Hilder, campaign director of, agreed that the government needs to connect with the public on a more personal level. Instead of talking about diminishing health inequalities they need to talk of the increased life chances of specific people in specific communities.

Many of the current arguments about the economy, bankers and blame are akin to shouting “there’s a hole on your side of the boat”, argued Fieschi. Instead, those unconvinced of the benefits of fairness need to realise the happiness of the individual is dependent on the happiness of the whole.

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