Britain is now the most unequal country in the Western world, an authoritative new United Nations report reveals. The gap between rich and poor is as great as in Nigeria.
Detailed statistics in the Human Development Report published last week also demonstrate that inequality has grown sharply during Conservative rule and that the poor in Britain now have to live on much the same incomes as their equivalents in Hungary and Korea.
While growing inequality might once have been a cause for congratulation - Margaret Thatcher called on us to "glory" in it - the consensus among experts in such bodies as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the rich nations' club, and even the World Bank is now moving against.
Lady Thatcher, like Ronald Reagan, believed that if the rich got richer, everybody would benefit. Now many economists believe that inequality hinders growth. In an unpublished paper Michael Bruno, chief economist of the World Bank, says: "Reducing inequality not only benefits the poor immediately but will benefit all through higher growth."
The same report also revealed that the wealth of 348 billionaires equaled that of 45 percent of the world's total population.