Friday, March 26, 2010

 

Tory lead Down to a Mere 2 Per Cent in Key Marginals

Always been a big fan of Chris Mullin, maverick MP, minister a few times over and champion of all those people wrongly accused of murder. Also he's an author and his diaries, A View From the Foothills was my favourite read last year. So I was well disposed towards his piece in The Guardian today. In it he argues Labour have done some creditable things. The media stokes up such a storm, and rightly, over the cock-ups and the sleaze and the tantrums that it's easy to overlook the schools and hospitals built and the fact in his constuency his local secondary school managed only 10% C-A GCSE passes in 1994 but last year achieved 60%. 'As a Labour MP I know I helped the poorest' he declares, and I for one would not challenge him.

Nor, apparently would the Institute of Fiscal Studies in the same issue. Its analysis of gain and loss as a percentage of net income shows that Labour really did redistribute income 1997-2010. The poorest 10% benefitted to the tune of 13%; the next poorest 10% by 11% and the next by 8%. Meanwhile the richest decile lost 6%; the next richest 3% and the next 2%. Yet before you start to feel sorry for those losses suffered by the amply rewarded just consider how well rewarded they are. The richest 20% in the UK earn seven times the poorest 20%. In Japan, another rich country, the factor is only three and a half times.

Usually such figures are lost in the welter of political information as if inequality is no more important than a late night adjournment debate. But with the election coming up the IFS analysis has especial resonance. If voters cotton on, Cameron might find he is facing the prospect of not just a hung parliament but defeat. Am I dreaming? Well look at the Yougov poll in 60 marginals published in the Spectator:

Conservatives --- 39 (down 4)
Labour --- 37 (up 1)
Lib Dems --- 35 (up 2)

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