There could be many more Inequality Moments this week
Posted on 20 March 2012 | 9:03am
I am due to be sitting on the This Week sofa with Michael Portillo on Thursday, when doubtless post-Budget discussion will dominate.
As regular viewers will know, the show kicks off with Andrew Neil asking Michael and his fellow close-up sofa-occupant for their ‘moment of the week’.
This week’s will probably emerge from tomorrow, but as I ran round Hampstead Heath this morning, I ruminated on a few possibilities from the week so far.
– the collapse of Fabrice Muamba, and the football world immediately showing a unity and a humanity it does not always manage to display.
– still on the sporting front, the announcement of the carriers of the Olympic Torch and the meeting between the youngest and oldest people on the list, 99 year old Dinah Gould, an 11 year old Dominic MacGowan.
In Budget week however it will be hard not to be political.
I enjoyed the body language between George Osborne and Ed Balls when they briefly shared another BBC sofa on Sunday. I sense George doesn’t like Ed much and that the feeling is mutual.
Then there was the moment David Cameron made his speech about the need to expand airport expansion in the South East, and I wondered if he regretted his short-term opportunism in opposing a third Heathrow runway at the last election, as some of us warned he would.
But narrowly edging it for now is the speech by the general secretary of the OECD, Angel Gurria, to a conference in China yesterday, urging the Chinese in their rapid economic development NOT to follow the US-UK route to the kind of wage inequality we have today.
It is a point emphasised by the near news blackout on the announcement yesterday of a freeze in the youth rate of the national minimum wage. Compare and contrast the frenzied focus on tax cuts for people who don’t need them with the dearth of interest in a further living standards squeeze on people at the bottom end. The Tories always hated the minimum wage, and given what they have done to the NHS, do not be surprised if the NMW is next in their sights.
Angel Gurria’s point will be emphasised further when Osborne delivers a Budget which, for all the pre-event sofa rhetoric, is clearly going to benefit the wealthy more than low and middle income families.
– Feel free to share YOUR moment of the week between now and Thursday night.