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U.K Still One of World's Most Unequal

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By Ben Cohen

I was recently back in London (where I'm from originally), and did a lot of driving around the city. It's a remarkable place, with some astonishing architecture that I never really appreciated while growing up. However, one thing struck me more this time around. The huge disparity between rich and poor was extremely visible, and more pronounced than I can ever remember. As I drove around, I saw raw housing projects (or 'estates' as we call them) interspersed with grand Victorian houses, upper middle class children driving to their posh private schools while inner city kids bus to dilapidated, overcrowded state schools, and areas devoid of decent shopping, parks and open spaces. I'm from a fairly nice part of London (Clapham), but that too has pockets of poverty where housing project have over 80% unemployment and awful crime rates. According to a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development, the gap between rich and poor in Britain narrowed "remarkably" between
2000 and 2005 but the country remained one of the 'most unequal in the
developed world'.

The Labour Government should be congratulated for its achievements in
reducing the gap, but when the richest 10% of the population earn 9
times the amount of the poorest 10%, it doesn't look too good for the
economic ideology the government has subscribed to. The Conservatives
have made much of New Labour's failures, but are only offering more
market driven solutions to a problem created by the same philosophy. It
is clearly time for a change, not necessarily in party, but in ideology.