The quest for greater equality is a central mission in Labour politics, but the party needs a new egalitarian agenda to broaden and deepen its attack on inequality. The goal should be a Britain of powerful people in a reciprocal society – rooted in an understanding of shared fate and the ways a more equal society benefits us all.
This means challenging concentrations of power and structural injustice – harnessing the state, markets and society where possible, and curbing each where necessary. In government Labour has sometimes been too hands off with the market and too hands on with the state; too unwilling to challenge market outcomes, then overly reliant on the state as a corrective force. Both the state and markets can empower, but both can overpower too.
Labour should combine government’s essential role in redistributing resources with the pursuit of ‘active equality’. This means ensuring the rules of the game are democratic and egalitarian, so people have the real power to shape the outcomes they seek, alongside others. It lights the way towards a richer policy agenda and a more powerful case for equality consistent with Labour’s core traditions and values.
Foreword by James Purnell MP, director of the Open left project.