Ultra-loyal fans will remember how infuriating I found Cameron’s assertion last autumn about poverty, and how bad for poverty reduction Brown et al have been.
Brown did not increase this gap. The gap increased. There is a difference. Brown took steps to try to reduce it, as the non-partisan IFS made clear in a presentation this week, which has this slide:
The Opposition on both sides – and you get this from the Left such as Polly Toynbee too – shamelessly ignore the counterfactual. How much worse would inequality be without Brown? I blame some of the attitudes taken on the Left, who were so wound up by Mandelson saying he was intensely relaxed by the rich so long as they paid their taxes that they have ignored or failed to notice how many good redistributive things have happened with those taxes.
The Oppositon claim that Brown made inequality worse would have the same logical validity as claiming a Green Government ruled by Porrit and staffed by NEF had made the world hotter, if by cratering the world economy they somehow managed to restrict temperature increases to just 1 degrees celsius. Grrr!
(Irrelevant update: CS Clark’s comment here is brilliant. I just wanted to say that.)