Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Inequality and Tom Harris MP

I've just read an article by a Labour MP on poverty and inequality which even a particularly dim commentator on the Daily Telegraph website might feel a bit embarrassed to have penned.

The problem is not that Tom Harris MP (for 'tis he) is absolutely ignorant about the issue of inequality and his own party's policies. After all, if he really does know as little about the subject as he makes out, it would be possible for him to read a book, talk to people who know about it or get his researchers to do him an easy read one page summary of the issue.

Then he'd discover why inequality matters, how Labour managed to reduce inequality for a time through taxing higher earners and redistributing the wealth to poor families and pensioners, and how higher benefits payments actually led to more lone parents getting into work. He'd also discover a whole host of policy ideas for reducing inequality beyond 100% taxes on inheritance or 98% supertaxes on wealth, which appear to be the only ideas he has come across.

But the problem appears to be that he is actually proud of his ignorance, and would rather make stupid and flippant points than attempt to better himself. I guess better educational opportunities might be part of the solution, but any other ideas welcome about what can be done when MPs show no interest in learning about an issue which affects thousands of their constituents - maybe in line with the welfare reform agenda we should withhold part or all of the money they get from the taxpayer if they don't buck their ideas up?

5 Comments:

At 8:41 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that was a constructive contribution to the debate then...

You are missing the point, though, that you can't do anything about inequality if you don't get elected. And you won't get elected without the big tent you had in 1997 and just about managed to keep together in 2001 and 2005.

The reason you are behind now is that the tent is collapsing.

Unless you are welcoming to everyone, including the rich and the aspirational, then all your other policies are just dreams.

 
At 11:48 am , Blogger Quinn said...

What is it about relative poverty that makes people want to flaunt their ignorance about what a median average is? Regardless of its merits, someone in relative poverty is defined as earning less than 60% of the median average income, so the rich can get richer, and MPs can win the lottery, and the number of people in relative poverty wouldn't alter one jot.

 
At 12:04 am , OpenID Al Widdershins said...

I do sometimes wonder why Tom Harris is a still a member of the Labour Party. Suspect that he might not be for long after the election.

 
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