It's "inequality stupid"

Inequality is a multi-layered problem. The norms of inequality have become so embedded in our culture that we often barely notice. The Mayor should talk at every turn about changing the shape of our society, changing the distribution of wealth and power, about how inequality directly distorts and harms human relationships. How can we make London vastly more equal? How can we truly banish racism and sexism? The evidence is clear: narrower income and wealth gaps between people will make us care more, share more, help more, contribute more to our amazing city. To have a social London, a creative London, a just London, we need to change London.

We need a fairer London.

Sign the petition for a fairer London

My Fair London – elections 2021 – London needs a new direction: our agenda for a fair city

The Mayoral elections of 2020 were cancelled because of Covid19. The last time elections were cancelled in London was during the Second World War. Coronavirus and our response to it have shown both how vulnerable we are but also how society can come together. Many things previously said to be impossible have happened: homeless people housed overnight; Government directly supporting every business in the country through the furlough scheme; everyone changing the intimate patterns of our lives to protect each other. Dramatic, rapid change is possible. 

Like so many other diseases Coronavirus has also followed the lines of inequality in our city: the disease has spread faster in poorer communities, among people in poor housing, among BAME communities. The poorest have also seen the most job losses and the largest falls in their income. Shockingly, in the midst of a global pandemic the rich, and particularly the super-rich, have seen their fortunes continue to grow. And the Black Lives Matter movement reminded us how racism remains embedded in British society. London is grossly unequal and unfair. In a pandemic this visibly costs lives. As fairness campaigners we know that inequality costs lives all the time.

Coronavirus arrived in London after ten years of austerity and forty years of an extreme ideological economic experiment. The scale of the pandemic’s impact is without parallel. Year after year we were told that economic laws were fixed and that competition and free markets were natural and best. If you ‘worked hard and played by the rules’ anyone could get on. The virus quickly showed how false this is. If you are rich you are protected from harm, if you are poor your risk of disease and illness is elevated, no matter how hard you work. Governments, even profoundly incompetent ones, can intervene in the whole economy, paying wages and subsidizing nearly every private company in the country. The magic money tree has become a forest. Why not plan major social change rather than stumble into it?

As the vaccines give us hope of the end of lockdowns and social restrictions now is the time to think about what next. After Covid19 we need rapid, radical change. 

Last year we published a manifesto: ‘Five Steps for a Fairer London’. We challenged the candidates for the office of Mayor of London to face up to the gross inequalities that blight our city, and called on them to pledge action to narrow the gap between rich and poor. We asked them to put the creation of a fairer society at the heart of their programme.  The shock of coronavirus makes this more urgent than ever. Now the virus has brutally exposed London’s deep inequalities our collective response must be to build a fairer, more equitable and so more just society. We have seen dramatic change is possible. We need a Mayor who who has radical vision for our city, rooted in a shift towards fairness and equity, toward collective actions and social solidarity, towards a globally just and sustainable relationship with the planet, towards freedom and creativity.

Unequal societies spread distrust between people, raise stress, increase violence, make us sick and damage the economy. With this Agenda for a Fairer City we want to build dialogue, create connections between Londoners and contribute to a shared vision for London’s future. We set out seven priorities for change. We want to talk you, to our fellow citizens, to other campaign groups, businesses, politicians running for office. What would it take to build a Fair London? How can we change, for good, the shape of our society? Can London become an ‘Ultra Low Inequality Zone’.

Watch Professor Kate Pickett describe just how inequality gets under under our skin, how it increases stress, distorts our thinking, and damages our relationships.

Read all the agenda points:

It's "Inequality stupid"

• Fair economy: fair pay, fair taxes, fair incomes, fair rewards

Fair housing, fair space, fair rents

• Climate change and the environment

• Children and young people

• Press and the media

• Power and democracy

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  • Loti Martin