Some timeserving bores extend their gaze east to fair Albion


Matt Yglesias – ‘blown away’ by the ‘righteous indignation’ of ‘British lefties’ (by which he means this guy, for chrissake) – says he wants to set the record straight on New Labour and inequality.

So he links, rather mystifyingly, to a guy who in turn links to this report. The latter concludes that, since 1997 and according to all the familiar metrics, income inequality in Britain has increased to historically high levels. Brad DeLong then links approvingly to Yglesias, and observes that others cannot add.

This is the sort of straight-faced skit now required of the Democrat ‘base’.

Anyway, a quick glance at the share of total income received by the top 1% of British households in each year since 1979 (the year of Thatcher’s election) shows that figure continuing to ratchet upwards since 1997. In 2005, the last year of available data (from work by Emmanuel Saez, Tony Atkinson and Thomas Piketty), this share was at its highest postwar level.

Shown below is the share of total income accruing to the lower 90% of the income distribution (the wage- and salary-earning classes) in Britain since 1979.

I suppose that, given the recent trajectory of the United  States, this looks comparitively benign. But imagine being the kind of cynical, careerist slug who’s motivated enough to raise his voice – across the Atlantic! – in defence of it.


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