Tuesday 9 February 2010

A society of equals

The Demos Open Left project has published a new report on how Labour can deepen its inequality agenda.

Indeed the ecumenically pluralist think-tank is today publishing red, yellow and blue Demos reports, addressing a liberal agenda to reduce inequalities and also how to tackle inequality from the perspective of "progressive conservativism". The argument that "equality can be a core conservative value" sounds like a very nice idea indeed, though not perhaps one which would go uncontested on the right: we may have more to say when we have read it.

The left-leaning Society of Equals report argues for a public argument that a more equal society would benefit us all. Open Left argument is that Labour would need to rethink both the market and the state to put this into practice.

"Challenging concentrations of power and structural injustice means harnessing the state, markets and society where possible, and curbing each where necessary.

One of the lessons from Labour's time in government so far is that it has sometimes been too hands off with the market and then too hands on with the state; too unwilling to challenge market outcomes, then overly reliant on the state as a corrective force. Both the state and markets can empower, but both can overpower too.

Instead, Labour should combine government's essential role in redistributing resources with the pursuit of ‘active equality’. This means ensuring the rules of the game are democratic and egalitarian, so people have the real power to shape the outcomes they seek, alongside others".

It tries to turn this into what we wonks like to call a "policy rich" agenda , with the main recommendations including the following:

* Scraping the 'non-dom' status so people who live and work in the UK pay tax here;
* Reforming remuneration committees to ensure employees have a voice in setting top pay;
* Promoting a diversity of company ownership models, starting with the re-mutualisation of Northern Rock;
* Ending selection by house price by widening parental choice and allocating places at oversubscribed schools by ballot;
* Limiting individual donations to political parties to protect democracy from being bough;
* Replacing Inheritance Tax with a Gift Tax, to encourage the wider spreading of wealth.

The full report can be downloaded online, and there may no doubt be more to say about it later.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"How Labour can deepen its inequality agenda".

Arf. Sound like you are trying to deepen inequality, not reduce it... Hang on, isn't that what's happened. Maybe it was the plan all along.