Search Class

New CLASS publication challenges politicians to put inequality back on the agenda


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 7th September 2012

The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) will today launch a new publication placing inequality right at the heart of the political debate. The timely publication argues that with the overwhelming majority of people increasingly worrying about jobs, benefits, rents, education and debt, inequality must now take centre stage.

"Why Inequality matters" presents key findings from the best-selling book "The Spirit-Level - Why Equality is better for everyone" by Professors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, and has been written by Members of My Fair London in association with the Equality Trust and produced by Class in response to requests from politicians, trade unionists and members of the public.

It follows Ed Miliband’s speech to Policy Network earlier this week, in which he paved the way for a new economic and political agenda saying "Just as the pre-war consensus could not solve the problems Britain faced in 1945. Just as the post-war consensus could not solve the problems of the late 1970's. So the last three decades will not solve the central economic challenge we face. Instead we need a new agenda." 

"Why Inequality Matters" will be a key part of the debate in that new agenda. While the "Spirit Level" delivered ground breaking research and put equality back on the map, "Why inequality matters" intends to be a spring board to explore those ideas more deeply and push for concrete policies that will tackle this ingrained issue.

Owen Jones - Writer and Media advisor to Class said:

"The pursuit of equality is not just a moral imperative, not just vital for the poor and for the social cohesion and wellbeing of society, it is also necessary for a stable economy. So just as the Beveridge report, with its attack on the five great evils of society, underpinned the achievements of the 1945 Labour Government, the thinking of The Spirit Level and the pursuit of equality must play a pivotal role in the construction of alternative policies which will replace those of this disastrous Coalition government."

Thousands of copies of "Why Inequality Matters" have been published and will be distributed throughout the Trade Union movement, the Equality Trust, and My Fair London.

Sean Baine - Chair of The Equality Trust said:

"It is important that we get the message out about the terrible effects in society of income inequality and this booklet will allow us to get the message across to an even wider audience - and hopefully get politicians of all parties to act now." 

The policy proposals put forward in "Why Inequality Matters" include radical measures to decrease the wage gap, reform the tax system and develop our public services. It concludes:

"There is a mass of evidence about our society that offers a simple, if not easily accomplished approach to the reduction of many of our present ills through the pursuit of greater equality.

There are different routes: in the Scandinavian countries, there is considerable state intervention; in Japan, much less. Both are far more equal societies than Britain, and suffers less from social problems, showing that the reduction of inequality can be achieved by a variety of approaches. It is not the preserve of one political philosophy."

The full publication can be found here:


Notes to Editors

1. The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established in 2012 by Unite the Union, GMB and the Institute of Employment Rights to act as a centre for left debate and discussion and has the growing support of a number of trade Unions including ASLEF and PCS. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today.

2. The Equality Trust  was founded by Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett and Bill Kerry to promote the ideas in The Spirit Level and to take action to achieve its aims. Thousands of people have formed local groups in support. The website gives details of what the Trust and local groups do and how to join in. More ideas for a fairer and more just society can also be found at

3. The My Fair London Group is associated with The Equality trust and is a group of volunteers who campaign to make London a fairer city with greater income equality.

4. "Why Inequality Matters" was written by members of My Fair London in association with the Equality Trust and produced by Class.

5. Class are holding a fringe meeting at TUC on "Why Inequality Matters" 12:45pm, 10 September, Victoria Terrace, Grand Hotel Brighton. Speakers include Professor Richard Wilkinson - The Spirit Level, Owen Jones – writer and media advisor to Class, Mehdi Hasan - Political Director of the Huffington Post; Len McCluskey - Unite General Secretary; Katharine Round - Director of The Spirit Level Documentary and Chaired by Tim Roache -
President of Class and Regional Secretary of GMB. Details:

6. The quote from Ed Miliband is from the speech he made to the Policy Network on 7 September 2012. Full speech here:,2012-09-06

5. Class was recently the subject of a Guardian article: