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Class war or not?

Nick Robinson | 11:56 UK time, Wednesday, 10 September 2008

So, is the class war back as the Telegraph claimed this morning? I think not. What may be back is Labour's determination to fight the Tories instead of (or, perhaps, as well as) each other.

In her speech to the TUC this morning Harriet Harman promised to "step up" the fight for equality and not to put it "on the back burner" as the economy slowed. She went onto attack the Tories as "false friends" of equality and fairness. The Shadow Chancellor George Osborne's portrayal of the Tories as the true progressive party was a provocation too far.

Harriet Harman speaking at the TUC CongressHarman didn't mention the word "class" once in her speech announcing the membership of the National Equality Panel - a group of academics who will study inequality in Britain. She spoke instead of "investigating how "people's life chances" are impacted by "where they were born, what kind of family they were born into, where they live and their wealth" as well as their gender, race, disability and age.

A major theme of Gordon Brown's Conference speech will, I'm told, be fairness and how Labour not the Tories can be trusted to deliver it. Gordon Brown's article, which I wrote about yesterday, admitted that Labour had not done enough to increase social mobility. A White Paper on the subject is due by the end of the year.

So, what is the motivation for all this ?

Belief - that this is what Labour is for.

Anger - that the Tories are "getting away" with presenting themselves as the party which will reduce inequality.

Hope - that this is a theme which will allow others to highlight David Cameron and George Osborne's privileged backgrounds given that Labour's crude attempts to exploit the "toffs in top hat" factor played so badly in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.

Not quite class war then but a hope to redraw the dividing lines with the Tories.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Yawn ...... a strategy to rewin middle Britain?

    Did we ever get crash Gordon's vision, or did I miss it?

  • Comment number 2.

    Good god they are so predictable.

  • Comment number 3.

    Another Nu-Lab stunt doomed to failure.

  • Comment number 4.

    The National Equality Panel ??? Good to see they're planning to do something? Just what we need right now a bunch of tired old academics doing another pointless study on what's wrong with UK PLC. Harriet: we know what the problem is and we know what the solution to the problem is: an election.

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course it's class war. Trouble is, we're all middle class now so he can't say it. But he can hint at it for the 'core' vote.

    Lowest social mobility for two generations. Gap between richest and poorest greater than Victorian era.

    It's probably all the Tories fault.

    But keep your cash offshore for now. Just to be on the safe side.

  • Comment number 6.

    DANGER! Thin Ice.

    Remind me, who went to St Paul's School and where did she send her children? It's all very well trying on this sort of class nonsense but Wikipedia soon sorts out the hypocrites. The trick appears to be to get to the top, make sure your kids can follow and then lecture the rest of us on how we should send our own kids to failing schools set up and run by Labour.

    Labour ministers will be quite happy to play the class card as long as the press goes along with it. A few of your rapier-like asides should put a stop to this rubbish. Go to it!

  • Comment number 7.

    Why are so many people who respond to this blog so unrelentingly negative? I think promoting fairness in society is to be applauded, and that Labour is far more likely to deliver this than the Tories ever will.

  • Comment number 8.

    Today I saw pictures of the booze being delivered to Manchester's Midland Hotel ahead of the Labour Party Conference (Pimms and mixers - You know, the usual socialist fare!) Well, considering the bankrupt state of the Labour Party, does anyone knows who pays for this?

  • Comment number 9.

    This woman is truly awful:

    Country in recession, inflation up, sterling down, house prices tumbling, cant afford to fuel the car or heat the house, patients denied life extending drugs, the kids can use a knife better than a pen, prisons are full, borrowed to the max and the gold has gone.

    And she promises equality. Is this your plan Harriet? To woo us with promises of equality. God it gets worse.

    We are equal Harriet were all in the doo doo together.

  • Comment number 10.

    First step in getting better, is to admit that you have a problem.

    Everyone knows Labour have screwed up big time.

    As long as they refuse to admit it, they have no credibility.

    Of course, if they do admit it then they have no credibility either.

    They are a bit stuffed really.

    They choose to leave the country in limbo for another two years so they can fill their boots with taxpayers money.

    They will not be forgiven - but this is clearly a price they are happy to pay in return for their gold plated benefits.

  • Comment number 11.

    She spoke instead of "investigating how "people's life chances" are impacted by "where they were born, what kind of family they were born into, where they live and their wealth" as well as their gender, race, disability and age.

    So the solution to this is to discriminate against men?

  • Comment number 12.

    There's a huge cause of so-called inequality missed off the list - the proverbial elephant in the room - and that's people's genes.

    No amount of social engineering is going to fix that. The Labour agenda is doomed to failure and will cause no end of misery and frustration along the way.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think it was a mistake to use the term "class war" - was it Teresa May that said this?

    Having said that the Unions need to wise up. Labour aren't going to be able to deliver them economic stability and social mobility. They just don't know how.

    The Unions should take the olive branch from Osbourne and try and shape the Conservative agenda positively.

    Labour is a dead duck.

  • Comment number 14.

    What do you do when you are in a corner and facing a battering from the electorate? Why, suggest that the electorate looks over its collective shoulder at the other guys in the room. This is Harman's stock in trade - deflecting criticism, not answering it.

    Remember she and her party have been in power now for 11 and a half years next month. If after that time she has the temerity to suggest that social mobility is a mystery, can we really take anything she has to offer on the subject seriously?

    Harman's solution will, no doubt, involve penal tax rates for those on above average earnings, compulsory state redistribution of the assets of the wealthy on death, School and university places to be reserved only for the poorest for a generation, and similar daft schemes. Harriet, what about reserving top jobs in government exclusively for those from deprived wards and without university education? That's the sort of blindingly stupid thinking that will inevitably come out of this desperate attempt to curry favour with someone, somewhere.

    The irony of this whole debate is, of course, that Labour does not really want social mobility. Move out of the working class hy dint of your own efforts and you'll suffer financially. Labour needs impoverishment.

    She and her party deserves the mugging at the polls that is inevitably coming their way.

  • Comment number 15.

    Out here in the real world...

    None of get dealt a perfect hand in the game of life. So most of us just get on with life and make the most of it.

    What does an equalities minister actually do? It strikes me that there is almost certainly a significant saving to be made by axing this whole department - surely it wouldn't be missed!

    Does anyone know how big the budget is?

  • Comment number 16.

    "diamondunited9 wrote:
    Why are so many people who respond to this blog so unrelentingly negative? I think promoting fairness in society is to be applauded, and that Labour is far more likely to deliver this than the Tories ever will."

    The Labour party have been in power for over 11 years now and things are getting worse not better. The Tories might not be able to deliver fairness in society but if Labour really wanted to deal with it then they could have forced through policies using their landslide majority - they didn't then and they are only talking about it now to try and raise their profile with voters.

    If people are convinced by Labour's lies after all this time then I really worry for the intelligence of the voters.

  • Comment number 17.

    National Equality Panel heh? Splendid idea, not! Presumably the academics will be tucked away in a University or dark room somewhere for a couple of years at daft expense and report their deliberations at some future point.
    What will they come up with next?

    Peoples life chances shouldn't be determined by Government, although many people have had theirs hampered by the present administration. Better parenting skills wouldn't be a bad start.

    If Labour genuinely cared about fairness, why not some policy initiatives eleven years ago and not simply now when they are deep, deep in a mire? Here's a novel concept, initiate cost effective, workable policies that benefit the disadvantaged and make the Conservative party chase the game.

  • Comment number 18.

    Now they are going to check out where you were born and wher you live and where you went to school to make sure you've eaten your left overs.

    This is control freakery gone mad.

    When will they learn that some ill educated and low born people get to the top and many high bron and privileged fall to the bottom and there are all shades and colours inbetween.

    These people claim to be the guardians of 'society' and 'fairness' but we'll soon all be wearing Mao jackets andhats if they have their way to make sure no one can tell where you come from before they decide to hire you.

    Madness, complete ill intentioned madness

  • Comment number 19.

    Nick, you asked :
    "So, what is the motivation for all this ?"

    You forgot:

    Desperation - trying anything to mask the woeful performance of the last ten years.

    New laws - set up position so can introduce yet another new crime and ban something. Chairs. Let's ban chairs (as they obviously stop social mobility.)

    Self interest - fear that the gravy train is over for a lot of Labour MP's

    Love of hearing own voice - Who else would Harriet like to listen to but herself ?

  • Comment number 20.

    No 7: diamondunited9

    Hell, lets give them another decade or so to do it then shall we? Labour can deliver on 'fairness'? Do me a favour, take a look at what they've actually done. Where have you been the last 10 years or so? All this is about is a crude attempt to satisfy their shrinking 'core' vote. People like you no doubt who'll take whatever crumb of hope they throw at you. Anyway, weren't they supposed to be doing this stuff when they got into power? Your party is bankrupt, just like the 'debt economy' it has created during the last decade. .

  • Comment number 21.

    Wow! The ultimate panel of tory tripe and theoretical reactionist to the global turn-down.

    Whats up folks, is the big mortgage and the two cars becoming to much of a burden....

    Thatchers selfish babies are not amused...

  • Comment number 22.

    Any party that oversaw the 10p Tax fiasco has lost the right talk about fairness.

  • Comment number 23.

    Does anyone else interpret the "where they were born..." stuff as going from socialism to communism?

    Maybe that's the big plan for the economy...

  • Comment number 24.

    Mr. Robinson,

    Whilst I enjoy your blog posts and reports on politics, this is a left leaning styled report. It is sad to see you returning to this style that the BBC was not so long ago seriously critised for. Please keep up with you neutral, and informative political reports, which I do enjoy... But not when you seem to take sides.



    P.S. The BBC is refering to 'class' in the headline of their main article on Ms. Harman's Speech.

  • Comment number 25.

    I presume Harriet is beating the drum to keep NuLabour's core voters of public sector workers and people on benefits. I must ask; why does taking money from people who have earned it and giving it to people who haven't earned it constitue "fairness"?

    What NuLabour fail to realise is that people on average wages aren't that much better off than people on benefits. We don't get free housing, more money when another baby comes along, free dental care, etc. Our disposable income is now at rock bottom thanks to high tax and other rising costs.

    Throwing tax money at the underclass has made no change to social mobility over the last 11 years.

  • Comment number 26.

    Gosh Nick you have to be quick.

    A National Equality Panel. And exactly how will it be funded, who is going to actually pay for it, apart form the taxpayer.

    Am I rich or poor, don't know anymore. I am rich in respect of the fact that I live quite comfortably on a modest private income. I am rich in that I continue to meet some very nice people. I am fortunate to have both a very good standard of living, and a great quality of life, only now is the reality becoming apparent.

    Ah, yes social mobility. Now that's what we really need. A panel, and how much will be allocated to keep the panel going, who will be on it, the great and the good no doubt.

    No Harriet, I am sorry that is action not words, what are you actually going to do. What will happen to this panel when you are thrown out of office. I can only hope that it is consigned to the dustbin, which is where this appallingly bad government should be consigned.

    Trouble is there is only a rubbish collection every five years, although I wouldn't trust this government to even be held to that. A national emergency delaying elections, you read it on Nicks blog first.

  • Comment number 27.

    Who said that the definition of "hope" was the denial of reality?

  • Comment number 28.

    Nick - some of the correspondents on this website have already looked into the great university dumb down and fraud scandal.

    Universities are already forced to take thousands of people who can scarcely read/write/count or even speak English - who then fail in droves. Worse yet they get degrees anyway, even if they can't reach traditional standards, because the university can't afford to loose their fees.

    Presumably the shower in power intend to extend this debacle even further.

    I'd love to see the TV news doing more to expose the great university scandal.

  • Comment number 29.

    Harriet is great, theres never been a lovelier person to make my blood boil, just the sight of her holier than thou approach is enough.

    As ever the nulab bunch have a not unreasonable idea that there should be equality but implement it by discrimination (they like to call it 'positive' of course)

    Animal farm springs to mind - HH and the NuLab clique are 'more equal' than the rest of us.

    This is nothing more than an attempt to turn the people against each other to deflect criticism.

  • Comment number 30.

    She's got a nerve that woman, I'll give her that. Labour to deliver fairness? - excuse me while I chuckle.

    Labour has done nothing to reduce inequality (let's not forget that they brought in tuition fees) and has done very little for the working populace. If anyone at the TUC falls for this after eleven and a half years of declining social mobility then they want their head looking at.

    I think that the academics on the National Equality Panel, when asked what improves "people's life chances", will come back with "not working under a Labour Government". "Not being male when Harman is anywhere near number 10" will also probably be on the list.

  • Comment number 31.

    This is a very tired Labour party. A National Equality Panel - great, another quango to pay for just as the nation starts running out of money.

    I'm not a particular fan of Teresa May but I think she got it mostly right when she said the following:

    "I ... find it surprising that she (Harriet Harman) should raise issues of social equality when she's part of a government that has been in power for over 11 years, presiding over a 900,000 growth in the number of people living in severe poverty and over a country that has the lowest social mobility in the developed world.

    "Labour has made poverty more entrenched and returning to the class warfare rhetoric of 20 years ago is neither helpful nor realistic."

    In my own view, the Labour Party have actually managed in the last eleven years to create, in ascending order of wealth

    (i) a working underclass that is actually poverty-stricken
    (ii) a large benefit-sustained, inactive element that is now economically better off than most of those who work
    (iii) the working middle-classes, who are being hammered into submission by rising taxes and prices and over-regulation
    (iv) the rich who are either exempt from or indifferent to taxation or regulation.

    So yes, in an odd way Labour have helped social mobility - they have helped the economically inactive, benefit-sustained element of society (i) to vault those in the working-classes who actually do work, and (ii) to overtake Labour's much-hated middle classes, in terms of money to spare.

    Labour, please let someone else have a go before it is too late.

  • Comment number 32.

    One TOFF (Harriet Harman) taking umbrage with the TOFFS Party (the Tories) in front of the supposed representatives of the working class. It's a bit early for the pantomime season, isn't it?

  • Comment number 33.

    21. derekbarker

    Welcome Derek,

    We are amused by the irony here

    "She's part of government that has been in power for over 11 years, presiding over a 900,000 growth in the number of people living in severe poverty and over a country that has the lowest social mobility in the developed world.

    Labour has made poverty more entrenched."

    But hey ho not my problem, but youre quite right I am cutting back on the staff.

  • Comment number 34.

    Whats up folks, is the big mortgage and the two cars becoming to much of a burden....

    Thatchers selfish babies are not amused...

    That's it. The economy is in the toilet. This government encouraged monster levels of debt on the back of an unsustainable hosue-price boom pump-primed by flooding the economy with hundreds of billions of quid. But the Labour apparatchiks know who to blame.

    Yeah. Thatcher's children. It's all Margaret Thatchers fault.

    That might have cut some ice eighteen years ago but it's eighteen years since Thatch got her P45. Labour has been in power for more than half that time.

    If the economy is in the toilet (it is) and social mobility is the lowest for two generations (lower than under Thatcher) and the gap between rich and poor is the greatest since Victorian times then it's fair to say what we have here is standard Labour Pavlovian claptrap 'It's all Margaret Thatchers fault'.

    'Fraid not old chap. If social mobility is a problem it's eleven years of Nu-Labour Stalinism that have made it so.

    I'm not playing in your comfort zone. I'm not going to defend Thatch. I'm going to keep attacking the present bunch of grade A incompetents.

  • Comment number 35.

    Labour 'talks the talk' but almost never 'walks the walk' and has not done so since 1948 when they created the NHS and nationalised the Railways.

    Where are the policies?

  • Comment number 36.

    I am still unsure why Labour feel that trying a class tactic is the best way to go in defeating the Tories.

    It seems too easy to dismiss. I am reminded of one of the quotes from the film 'Gladiator' when one of the senate is told that he lives better than the people he represents.

    He responds with the phrase 'I never claimed to be one of the people, but I do try to be a servant for the people'.

    Why do Labour believe that where you come from dictates whether you are able to govern for a whole country. Another foolish idea from a Government that needs to be replaced before they do any more damage to this country.

  • Comment number 37.

    Wow! The ultimate panel of tory tripe and theoretical reactionist to the global turn-down.

    OECD reports we are the only country in the G8 in recession.

    Global downturn. You wish.

    Brown's Bust more like. Like the Barber Bust only happening right now on your in your remortgaged house on your 52" plasma TV.

  • Comment number 38.

    After 12 years of screwing up the economy, (no return to boom and bust remember) how much longer must we suffer this sad and insufferable band of incompetants. But wait there is a light of salvation Hero Harriet will bark on about equality and all will be forgiven!......what a silly woman.

  • Comment number 39.

    21. derekbarker

    We are amused by the irony here

    She's part of government that has been in power for over 11 years, presiding over a 900,000 growth in the number of people living in severe poverty and over a country that has the lowest social mobility in the developed world.

    Labour has made poverty more entrenched.

    But hey ho not my problem, but youre quite right though, I am cutting back on the staff.

  • Comment number 40.

    There always have been, and always will be classes in society. People with sufficient initiative and drive can 'climb'.

    Life is not fair. Idiots born to idiot parents surrounded by idiots will be idiots. Smart people born to smart parents sent to good schools and surrounded by smart people are more likely to succeed.

    Labour seem to think that it is FAIR that the middle-classes, who by definition WORK for their money, should pay for the working classes to work LESS.

    Being a highly-skilled above-average earner in my twenties, I cannot wait to get the hell out of this god-forsaken country.

    I'm not sure anyone appreciates how many people in my demographic are leaving. How we were among the first to rack up massive debts to get a worthless university education, how we get absolutely NO tax breaks anywhere while constantly reading about the 'poor working classes' getting more and more hand-outs, the ridiculous housing prices and OUR money being used to bail out a totally predictable housing market bubble that was ENCOURAGED to form by Gordon Brown, MY MONEY.

    Yes I am angry, very angry, and no, I don't read the Daily (hate) Mail. I'm just sick of this government, sick of this country, and want to go somewhere where my skills and income can afford me a respectable house in a respectable place without worrying about anti-social neighbours roaming the streets and be able to actually ENJOY LIFE.

    Rant over.

  • Comment number 41.

    #1 Blogpolice

    No I don't think you or I missed it for a very good reason, there isn't one. The word is a facade worthy of Prince Potemkin himself behind which no substance lurks. A blindfolded cyclops with glaucoma has more vision than Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 42.

    Throwing tax money at the underclass has made no change to social mobility over the last 11 years.

    They've trebled national debt since 2003. But you can bet what the 'fix' will be for their failure to offer hope to their core vote. Can't you?

    Throw more borrowed money at the problem. That'll work.

    It's watching like Field Marshall Haig.

    Hmmm, so the last full-frontal assault got machine-gunned before they got 50 yards? Jerry must be running out of ammunition soon. Send in another hundred thousand men.

    They really are a one-trick pony aren't they? Got a problem? Throw more money at it.

  • Comment number 43.

    Don't really think I want a lecture on equality from a woman who has been to a private school and from a privileged background and sends her sons to equally priveleged selective schools. Another case of do as I say and as I do. George Orwell had it just about right - all animals are equal, just some more equal than others

    Bad choice of policitian to make that speech

  • Comment number 44.

    To say " investigating how "people's life chances" are impacted by "where they were born, what kind of family they were born into, where they live and their wealth" as well as their gender, race, disability and age"... sounds to me like an attempt to revive a sort of DNA database for everyone (provided they don't lose it).

    Not forgetting of course, our own dear Harriet's own privileged background is closely linked with peers of the Realm. Also, remember that we are in the era of professional politicians who frankly have no idea what the real world is like.

    The Government's behaviour reeks of desperation and is deeply disturbing...

  • Comment number 45.

    So now we know why everything is crashing around our ears: 'Old Labour' are back with the same old left-wing dogma and the age old chip-on-the shoulder aswell.
    How clear it all is now; Economy in trouble, housing market in meltdown... LET it crash they'll think. Makes ot all the more affordable for the 'brothers'. And a little bit more tax? Middle classes can always afford more can't they?.

    Time to realise who and WHAT is givernining us now (if you can call it governing) and it is NOT new labour.

    Let's do everything we can to get rid of them as fast as possible and restore Freedom to Britain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Harperson wishes to reduce everybody to the same low level as herself and the rest of her comrades. - Her slogan - Vive Le Mediocracy!

  • Comment number 47.

    43. lawscottoo

    And she be Squeeler.

  • Comment number 48.

    The more I see of it the more I become convinced we are witnessing some kind of ritual mass suicide by the Labour party. Imagine how the TUC must feel being lectured to about social mobility by this woman. A woman who went to the St Cakiest of St Cakes.

    She probably believes she's so naturally smart that she'd have won a scholarship if she'd been born to a dustman in Shadwell.

    Imagine what any bored journalist is going to do with this.

    Nu-Labour has turned into a suicide cult. It's the only rational explanation.

  • Comment number 49.

    #7: "Why are so many people who respond to this blog so unrelentingly negative? "

    Well, I can't speak for the other unrelentingly negative folk on this blog, but I'm happy to tell you why I'm unrelentigly negative: Harman's words are absolutely nothing but empty rhetoric. Labour have been in power for 11 years now, and in that time inequalities have got worse, not better.

    So why should we believe a single word she says when she tells us she cares about inequality?

  • Comment number 50.

    Oh Ah, the tosh response from the boom an bust thatcherites.

    Spit the dummy and shed your tears elsewhere.

    OECD OPEC CBI do you read all material- related nonsense......Wow!

    O' your vested interest in doubt.

  • Comment number 51.

    Oh dear, I seem to have slipped into a timewarp and am looking at the minutes of a 1970s Monday Club (lower division) meeting. Do the hard right have nothing better to do with their time?

    What Harman is doing is re-adressing core labour values. Equality of opportunity is a worthwhile goal, one that the Tories are paying lip service to at the moment because they think it is a winner electorally. But as any student of history knows, the Tories will say and do anything to gain and hang on to power. Harman is right to point this out.

    She is also right to try to redress the balance which is still in favour of white middle class males, whatever the screaming assumed victmhood of the Daily Mail readers tell you.

  • Comment number 52.

    National Equality

    The research has been done very thoroughly and very well received when it came out. Author: Ian Duncan-Smith who, last time I looked, is Conservative and the research was not done at the expense of the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 53.

    If the Tories are 'false friends' then what are Labour? 'Rubbish friends', 'unreliable friends', 'incompetent friends'?

    I'm not a natural Tory voter, but from where I'm standing the Tories appear a whole lot more competent than Labour and right now I'm struggling to see how the Tories could do a worse job. Thinking back to the situation in 1997, I cannot believe that I am now saying this of the Tories and Labour.

  • Comment number 54.

    The plain truth is they have run out of Ideas .They have not got a clue what to do next.So its lets run the others down and maybe the public will think we are doing something.

  • Comment number 55.

    Great, does this mean we can all wander round Prescotts place for a game of croquet and a jug of Pimms?

    Seriously though, Labour are as bad, if not worse, than the Tories. This is the party who took full advantage of a meritocratic grammar system, then kicked the ladder down afterwards behind them.

    A party who introduced selection along religious lines, rather than ability.

    A party who have presided over a nation of social exclusions, increasingly alienated youth and destroyed social mobility.

    It's a little late in the day to start trotting out this bilge then.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nu Labour's humbug and hypocrisy notwithstanding, Cameron and his immediate crew undeniably come from the sort of privileged background many of us find ouselves unable to identify with. Davies had true proeletarian street cred. Hague is from a small-business background and the local comp. Cameron, Osborne et al have no such credentials and their background makes Joe Punter deeply suspicious even if he has some sympathy with their policies. This is a scab which will have the top knocked off it time and time again before the next election.

  • Comment number 57.

    This so called MP for womans rights has got this one well and truly wrong.
    11 years of Labour and she (sorry HH) seems to have forgotten that here we are 11 years on and its all the Tories fault.
    I do not know or even care about this one crusade MP. She has done more harm to this country along with the rest of the Labour persons (apparently politically correct) and what do we have to show.
    As a nation the purse is empty and what we do have left (M's HH) you wish to waste on trying to move everybody even closer together. It will not work and perhaps if M's HH wishes to carry on this crusade she can do it somewhere else, preferably not anywhere on this small and overcrowded island.

  • Comment number 58.

    At 12:35pm on 10 Sep 2008, diamondunited9 wrote:

    Why are so many people who respond to this blog so unrelentingly negative? I think promoting fairness in society is to be applauded, and that Labour is far more likely to deliver this than the Tories ever will.

    Equality has WORSENED under 11 years of New Stasi. Why do you think they will do anything now to reverse it?

  • Comment number 59.

    The only way this sham of a Government will ever introduce equality to this country is when they've bankrupted us all.

    The entire cabinet should be put on trial for treason after what they've done to our once-great nation.

  • Comment number 60.

    Oh Ah, the tosh response from the boom an bust thatcherites.

    Boom and bust Brownites old chap. Thatcher was soooo eighteen years ago.

    Pull up a chair while the cleansing tsunami of debt and recession nibbles at the toes of the electorate and they wisen up, as they are, in ever greater numbers to the staggering incompetent mis-management of the UK by Gordon Brown.

    20% behind in the polls and counting.

    Labour are finished.


  • Comment number 61.

    Strange how every opinion from a government supporter on this blog has to contain a personal attack on people who have different opinions to them.

  • Comment number 62.

    I do hope that Labour takes an absolute kicking at the next general elecetion and it would be a brucie bonus if HH lost her seat in parliament...

    What rubbish she talks really. New Labour stole traditional Tory economic policy and tried to bolt on socialist spending plans. That works fine when the economy runs at full tilt but now....witness the grand implosion as the government runs out of money.

    Hardworking taxpayers do not deserve to be punished further in the form of stealth and other taxes in order to 'increase fairness in society'. I see no reason why I should pay for some chavs to lounge about all day watching daytime tv and breed lots of mini-chavs that follow their parents example.

    The impoverished can be more socially mobile if they get into the workplace and earn money. Or alternatively improve their earning potential by learning new skills. Paying them more money to sit at home and do nothing is NOT an option.

    Education+Jobs+Hard Work= Social Mobility.

    From the second generation son of an immigrant

  • Comment number 63.

    Just listened to Harriet at the TUC conference.

    If that's the best they can throw out then they have no chance at the coming election.

    How many equality policies did the tories come up with in eighteen years? None. Precisely Harriet, because we lived in a free country then and didn't beed your rights.

    If NewLiebore hadn't spent eleven years turning us inot the most snooped upon people in the world people wouldn't need your rights.

    She must feel awfully comfortable surrounded by big banners with noble words saying, 'respect' 'dignity' 'rights' 'decency' but this is just all chip on both shoulders socialist dogma that has landed in one dreadful state.

    As for her put downs of tories 'lurking' around womens' organisation and 'fawning' over TUC members...what planet are you on Harriet? Do you not remember Tony and Gordon 'lurking' around the City of London and 'fawning' over big business? It's called politics and you don't seem to be very good at it. Or is this just the same game the newLabour bloggers play... they disappear form the post when you play them at their own game?

    They really are a bunch of lightweights heading for a crushing defeat crying to mummy that someone else has grabbed their policies.

    We don't want your policies. They suck.

  • Comment number 64.

    50. derekbarker

    Hi Derek.

    Good to see you back so soon.

    Can I just point out that shes been superseded by boom and bust Brown now so we dont need to hanker after her.

  • Comment number 65.

    Oh dear, I seem to have slipped into a timewarp and am looking at the minutes of a 1970s Monday Club (lower division) meeting. Do the hard right have nothing better to do with their time?

    That's it. Insult the messenger. Discredit the messenger. Obliterate the message.

    Soooo Alastair Campbell. Discredit Kelly, drive hime to his death. Discredit Gilligan, force him to be sacked. Discredit the BBC, force out their Chairman. Bury the message.

    It's not working.

    Labour is finished. The electorate have woken up, the media have turned.


    Get over it.

  • Comment number 66.


    Can I just add the Thatcher argument doesn’t really work any longer, if you shoot that old gun, then my Wilson and Callahan howitzers are at the ready.

  • Comment number 67.

    Am I missing something or hasn't she been in power for the last 11 years?

  • Comment number 68.

    Watch out, derekbarker is a troll from the other blogs.

  • Comment number 69.

    51 The Notting Hill Hammer:

    Re-adressing core labour values? What values? Didn't they throw those away when they got into power? Look, it must be nice to see one or two catchy words thrown around, sort of makes you feel gooey inside I suppose. You know what I mean, as if something is actually going to happen. Don't be deluded my friend it's just another new labour scam.

  • Comment number 70.

    If ever one needed to have an out of touch politician here she is !!!

    Has privilege played no part in her life, its written all over her CV, this is silver spoon territory and she sits at the top.

    If this is supposed to win votes or change peoples opinions then its wishful thinking,your days are numbered Harrie get a new kitchen before its too late.....

  • Comment number 71.

    All a bit rich coming from the daughter of a Harley Street doctor and a solicitor. As she went to a private school and has never had a "proper" working class job in her life she is no doubt new labour's best person for the job when it comes to equality.

    I wouldn't call being a lawyer for the National Council for Civil Liberties with Patricia Hewitt a proper job and from there to parliament. Oh and where did she send her children to be educated?

    Class war? It might have some bite if it came from someone else.

    No doubt an opportunity for her cronies and old mates to have a great old time at our expense and no doubt all on first class train tickets and air flights. I can't imagine they will be staying overnight in a travelodge either!

    The gall of the woman! Just how stupid do they really think we are?

  • Comment number 72.


    You ask "what is the motivation for all this?"

    It is policy making on the hoof - the agenda "political survival of the Labour party"

    In only takes two or three Unions to realise that Labour will be out of office for the next few years and that they may as well save the millions of pounds they spend supporting Labour and instead engage in positive dialogue with the Conservatives 'for free'.

    If the Unions engaged with the Conservatives now - it is a win / win for both the Unions and Conservatives. The Unions - if they engaged prior to a general election would have some value to the Conservatives and a good negotiating position.

    I think it would be in the Conservatives interest in making sure they could build a pragmatic long term working relationship with the unions.

    Of course - if an alliance of this nature happened - then there would be no longer any need for a "Labour Party".

    Harriet Harman has thrown up some fodder to apease the Unions today and to try and keep them on side.

    Labour, however, are a Dead Duck. If the Unions and Conservatives collaborated - then Labour would be demoted from Duck to Dead Parrot. Deceased.

  • Comment number 73.

    This is a scab which will have the top knocked off it time and time again before the next election.

    I don't doubt it. This is now just a final desperate effort to cling to the core vote though. I think it's an admission that they've lost the key 'swing' voter. The aspirational middle class who were wooed by Nu-Labour. The difference between 18 years in opposition and 13 years in government.

    I think with one eye on the upcoming Scottish by-election they're trying to bolster up their 'downtrodden heros of the proletariate' credentials to try and limit the humiliation whenever it comes. Losing by 1000 votes is better than losing by 10,000 votes.

    It's just an admission of eleven years of failure. No surprise there then.

  • Comment number 74.

    When I hear the word "equality" I reach for my revolver...

    The trouble with all this chattering from Harman and her drippy fellow travellers is that they never explain what they *mean*. What is "justice"? What is "fair"? I wrote about this a while back - - and all the discussion proved was that left and right fundamentally disagree about the meaning of the terms. For most people "fair" means getting just rewards for the efforts you pu tin. For Harman, it means getting something for nothing - and getting the same outcome as someone who has put effort in.

    Why do poorer people have poor health? cus they drink and smoke more than average. Why do they have poor school results? 'cus they skive, and don't put in the effort.

    Why should those who *do* work be penalised to pay for those who refuse to?

    BBC - why not get into the nuances of what politicians mean when they say "fair", "just", "equal" - these things matter.

  • Comment number 75.

    Strange how every opinion from a government supporter on this blog has to contain a personal attack on people who have different opinions to them.

    Tried and tested tactic from the old days old chap. Abuse the messenger, drag them into a slanging contest, run to the moderator and get your complaint in first, Anti-government message supressed. Job done.

    Ignore them. It drives them nuts.

  • Comment number 76.

    A National Equality Panel - you just could not make this up. The Gold has gone, the public finances are in tatters, the Government is in the throes of a monumental bout of self denial and it looks as though our collective sense of irony has gone too.

  • Comment number 77.

    I dont believe it.....Victor Meldrew,.,

    Blow the cob webs from your hidden agenda.

    The cons have nothing to offer to the "GREAT BRITISH PEOPLE"

    Streamlining, efficiency....your missed your bus stop in 1997......

  • Comment number 78.

    Frank Castle wrote:

    Great, does this mean we can all wander round Prescotts place for a game of croquet and a jug of Pimms?

    Seriously though, Labour are as bad, if not worse, than the Tories. This is the party who took full advantage of a meritocratic grammar system, then kicked the ladder down afterwards behind them.

    A lttle knowledge of history can be quite useful. It was MacMillan's government that started the move to comprehensive schools, and this move continued when the Tories were in power in the 70s as well. The education minister from 1970 to 1974 enthusiatically supported comprehensive education. Her name? Margaret Thatcher.

  • Comment number 79.

    RobinJD 63;

    Good stuff.

  • Comment number 80.

    You can all stop moaning about personal attacks. The immoderate hysterical accusations against anyone who does not agree with the hard right line on "dole scroungers" immigrants etc justifies a similar response

  • Comment number 81.

    Harman's comment is a bit like having a long conversation with a garage to work out the best way to adjust your wing-mirror when the whole car has just been written off in a massive car accident.

    There's not much point making grandiose plans about how to deal with equality when the entire economy is in the toilet.

    Get your priorities right labour; you can't spend money helping with equality when you're already bankrupt.

  • Comment number 82.


    "I see no reason why I should pay for some chavs to lounge about all day watching daytime tv and breed lots of mini-chavs that follow their parents example."

    What annoys me the most is that work is clearly there. Hundreds of thousands of economic migrants have had no trouble finding work in recent years.

    Yet we still have millions who choose not to work, millions of NEETS, millions on disability allowance, etc.

    Of course all their free housing, free school meals, etc, will be removed if they get a job so in effect they are trapped in poverty by the very welfare state that claims to help them.

  • Comment number 83.

    Posters here all seem to have short memories. The unpopular Major government won the 1992 general election by saying, in effect, "Yes, we're rubbish, but Labour are scary bogeymen."

    Now that the boot is on the other foot, it should scarcely be a surprise if the trick is repeated.

    If it works, we'll get a similar 5 years of corruption, self-interest and stagnation from Labour as happened under Major. If it fails, we'll be governed by David Cameron, who is the very embodiment of the triumph of style over substance. Bereft of ideas before even taking office, the Tories will most likely form the first one-term government for 30 years.

    All in all, a lose-lose situation for the people of this country.

  • Comment number 84.


    Can citizen Smith.....stop glossing everyone with his blue berry.......

    would this cat trap party of conservatives care to share their greedy attitude with real debates.........

    o' do they have policies????????

  • Comment number 85.

    Stick grandantidotes head on her shoulders and try and spot the difference.

    Need a clue or two?
    Brief mention of a crap Labour initiative and quite a lot more piffle having a pop at the Conservatives.

    Answer - a brown blouse!!

  • Comment number 86.

    The irony is if there was true equality in this country, then HH would be sacked.

  • Comment number 87.

    So this is like us sending our kids to the local comprehensive, and you sending yours to a grant-maintained school is it then Harriet?

    Or is it like the rest of us plebs driving at 70mph on the motorway whilst you thunder past at 99?

    Or perhaps it's like the other time when you got a £60 fine for ignoring a 40mph limit and then paid it late?

    Or is it like how you get to wear body armour on the streets of London whilst the rest of us have to take our chances?

    I'm hoping that some of your New Labour underlings read this. In case they do let me explain what life is like down here on planet Earth...

    Petrol prices up.
    Food prices up.
    Electricity prices up.
    Heating gas prices up.
    Taxes up.
    Crime up.
    Stock prices down.
    House prices down.
    Credit hard to come by.

    The only thing staying the same is wages.

    And you really think we care about equality at the moment?

    Even if we do, I doubt we want to hear about it from someone as hypocritical as Harriet Harman.

  • Comment number 88.

    1) Are Labour now so desperate they need to incite class warfare?

    2) Harmon should be tried for reviving class hatred.

  • Comment number 89.

  • Comment number 90.


    it can't be true, it's not happening. I'm losing my neutrons. We are all doomed.

    It's a cert, the national equality panel will come up with the answer, it's number 42.

    My neutrons, aaaggghhh Shut it down , please shut it down, before it is too late.

  • Comment number 91.


    I agree with your point on health. If you smoke, if you drink to excess, you're not doing yourself any favours.

    But I thik your education point is unfair. I think it is unreasonable to expect a child to battle against the "anti-learning" atmosphere that seems to exist in some schools. If two children of roughly equal intelligence are sent to two different school - then it is pretty reasonable to expect that that ethos and atmosphere in each school is going to have a significant impact on the child.

    This is shameful failure of successive governments. It is not about the curriculum, it is the fact that they have not been able to create environments which give different children the chance to find their niche.

  • Comment number 92.


    I'm sorry I fell asleep and woke up listening to a BBC Radio 4 play.

    We are still doomed though, all doomed.

  • Comment number 93.

    I am all for this National Equality, we can all become equal to Brown and co and have access to the John Lewis list, free TV licence fat pensions and free polltax, bring it on I say!!
    I am also in favour of social mobility and cannot wait to see Labour get mobilised and bugger off!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    84. derekbarker

    Derek whats a cat trap and where can I get one. well about 4 actually.

  • Comment number 95.

    89 Carrots........

    I am genuinely shocked! I knew they were appalling managers - but they are more inept than I could possible imagine!

    81 Getridofgordon

    Great analogy - I was laughing to myself until I read the article posted by Carrots.

  • Comment number 96.

    There's actually little in life that I despise as much as rank hypocrisy, and yet this governement has been mired in it since 1997. They and their supporters love to throw abuse at those on the opposition benches who attended expensive public schools, yet never said a word about Tony Blair who had the good fortune to be edcuated at Fettes, often called the "Eton of Scotland". No sense of a silver spoon in mouth there then. No quibble either about those in government like Ms Harman who went to good public schools, or those like Ms Abbott who send their own children to expensive fee-paying schools rather than the local "bog standard comprehensive", made even more bog standard thanks to the education policies of their government and its constant meddling with education (but only for those unfortunate enough to be suffering education in England rather than elsewhere in the UK- where's the equality there?).

    I am the classic swing voter, owing allegiance to no political party, just the sort that this government needs to vote for them if they hope to cling on to office. For their information, I want the people running my country to have received a sound education; that invariably means they won't have been students at the said bog standard state school, particularly after Ed Balls has finished playing again with them. I don't see those from Eton (or Fettes) as selfish ogres, but just the sort of people that may be capable of stringing a sentence together that I can understand, unlike our recently departed and not much missed Deputy Prime Minister whose utterings on the world stage were an acute embarrasment.

    We have seen the efforts of New Labour to enhance "fairness and equality" over the last 11 years, and we don't much like what we see. A greater wealth gap between rich and poor than at any time in my lifetime, the disgrace of the NHS post code lottery, the destruction of final salary pensions unless you work for the state, the imbalance of the flawed devolution arrangements between the various home nations . . . . the list is endless. My advice to Ms Harman is: take your failed social engineering policies and put them in the bin where they belong. Those in a hole should always stop digging!

  • Comment number 97.

    Duke Jake

    Well said. Shouldn't we be incentivising people to work in the form of benefits (such as free childcare or mortgage support/part buy part rent), not to stay at home. Once they earn enough to break the cycle then that's when the benefits should go.

    Creating/sustaining a system where people cannot afford not to be in the benefits system makes no sense at all.

  • Comment number 98.

    What they want to do is to take money from whomever has worked hard and acheived much and hand it over to those who can't be arsed!

  • Comment number 99.

    I know that this may be more to do with the business page but sometimes people need to know about things which they may not find interesting.

    So, when the BBC report about financial problems and the credit crisis they then refer to the Dow Jones index rising or falling by a number of points or a percentage.

    The problem is that the Dow Jones is hardly representative of the United States economy. It only represents 30 companies, yes 30. Lehman Brothers for example is not part of the index.

    So, I think even when the F.T. 100 Index is referred to, people ought to understand that again it represents many companies which really do not represent the UK economy as such, they are mining companies, and banks. The situation I think is much much worse than anybody think.

    Listen to what the farmers are saying about their yields, the banks will not carry the farmers during this economic crisis. This is getting so close to a repeat of the 1928 crisis which laid the foundation for 1929.

  • Comment number 100.

    Derek Barker

    You aren't by any chance sat at 39 Victoria Street SW1 being paid by your party memebers to write your biased views? Otherwise you seem to have a lot of time on your hands....

    Or perhaps you too would be a beneficiary of HH's equality vision - lots more money for nothing.


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