Here is a tweet from Kemi Badenoch MP, our trade secretary and a person even more desperate to lead the Tories than Suella Braverman. Her video, made at the Covid inquiry last week, is illuminating, but the tweet says all you need to know about what she said:
This is a perfect example of the nonsense that the far-right say to support their cause, knowing that what they are saying is completely untrue.
We can tackle poverty
Of course, we know how to tackle poverty. As a matter of fact, there is less poverty in the UK than once there was. As a result, unless you are wilfully blind, it is apparent that we do know how to tackle this issue.
The answers are relatively straightforward. Apart from paying decent benefits and appropriate pensions (neither of which happens in the UK at present) we also need to:
- Build affordable social housing in sufficient quantity that everybody might enjoy it.
- Ensure that essential public services, such as water, gas, electricity, telecoms and transport are affordably accessible to everyone.
- Guarantee free healthcare and social care from cradle to grave.
- Deliver high-quality education so that people can, if they wish, change their situations and are encouraged to do so.
- Have a policy of full employment at a living wage.
How to do it
All of this is possible, and entirely affordable. All we need to do is:
- Have a genuinely progressive tax system of the sort that I describe in the Taxing Wealth Report 2024.
- Turn private savings into public capital in the way that I describe here.
- Have a government that makes the meeting of need its highest priority, rather than the servicing of the wants of the clients of the financial services industry the focus of its attention.
- Have a government that believes in a genuinely mixed economy, which has to be the basis of our future prosperity. The market-based dogma of the right, and the state-based dogma of the left, cannot solve the problems of poverty: only mixing the best can do that.
Such a government would also, necessarily, be focused on delivering sustainability, but those now in poverty do not threaten that. The threat to our planet comes from the wealthy.
It is simply not true that we do not know how to eliminate poverty. We could achieve that goal. The reality is that Kemi Badenoch wants us to think that we cannot, because those who support her believe it would threaten them if we were to do so.
Human life is only compatible with one answer
The choice is simple. Do we run the economy in the interests of those who are in need, or for the benefit of those who already have a great deal but want more? That is the political question that we need to answer now. To add piquancy, human life can only survive one of those choices. That should make deciding fairly easy. Unless you are Kemi Badenoch and the Labour Party, that is.