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Tackling social inequality. Will your vote make a difference?
 

Tackling social inequality. Will your vote make a difference?

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Lecture by Danny Dorling first given at the Eila Campbell Lecture, Birkbeck University, London, March 3rd 2010. Slides created by Benjamin Hennig.

Lecture by Danny Dorling first given at the Eila Campbell Lecture, Birkbeck University, London, March 3rd 2010. Slides created by Benjamin Hennig.

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    Tackling social inequality. Will your vote make a difference? Tackling social inequality. Will your vote make a difference? Presentation Transcript

    • Tackling social inequality. Will your vote make a difference? Danny Dorling 3 March 2010 Eila Campbell Lecture Birkbeck University, London A talk in three parts Thanks to Ben Hennig for Slides, John Pritchard for many of the later cartograms and many others For the data see last slide http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/maps/elections/constituencies/dorling_animation.html
    • PART 1 1987 and all that : winners
      • The first general election of my adult life was held in 1987
      • What do you remember of 23 years ago? Were you alive?
      • Are we returning to a picture that looks like this…… ?
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=83
    • What to expect
      • Today I’m talking about a very contemporary event, a general election about to take place, but I want to put it in a geographical and historical context.
      • Partly because this lecture is titled with Eila Campbell’s name I’ll show quite a few maps covering some history, but (unfortunately) no historical cartography (Eila’s specialism).
    • 1987 2 nd placed
      • This map shows who came second. Will the Liberals again excell at this?
      • Will there be a green dot in England for the first time (in first place)?
      • Will any second placed dot need to be drawn in black (for the BNP)?
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=84
    • My central argument
      • In early 2010 we learnt that levels of social inequality were at a 40 year high*. I suggest that looking at the trend in various geographical and social inequalities from around 1918 to the present day it is very hard, initially, to notice when the party of government changed.
      • However, closer inspection of the time series suggests there were key times when the trends changed direction, when the future was much less like the past and when how people voted and acted appeared to matter more than at other times. Now may be such a time.
      • * The John Hills Enquiry (published in January 2010)
    • 1987 vote mix
      • In the era before 1918 two parties had dominated
      • After 1981 three parties mattered most again
      • But how different are they?
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=82
    • Think forward from 1987 to now
      • With all three main parties offering apparently very similar solutions to the issue of reducing inequality it may appear unlikely that voting in 2010 will make much of a difference to future trends – All three say there is no alternative to cuts.
      • However, inequalities are now so extreme that concern has risen. Action has been taken such that some inequality trends, especially in education, have begun to change direction (things did get better but who noticed*?).
      • How divided is the country by political colour?
      • *http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2010/jan/28/labours-great-successes-university-access-danny-dorling
    • 1987 cartogram
      • Are we looking again at a pink inner London, dark blue suburbs, turquoise home counties, jade peninsula, purple north, red metropolises: deep geographical division?
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=81
    • 1987 was no key election
      • The last two times that the direction of trends in geographical inequalities changed there were several general elections held within a relatively short time period (1922/23/24, 1970/74/74).
      • If your vote does not make a difference this time, it may well matter sooner than you think. Inequality is expensive and the United Kingdom is not as well-off as it recently appeared to be.
    • Local votes
      • Are often used today to forecast votes at a general election, but they have been out of sync before
      • Only where local elections are held can votes be counted…
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=86
    • We all have a different memory
      • In 1987 I moved to live for a year in a flat in Benwell in Newcastle upon Tyne. Your geography, the places you have been to, change who you are.
      • In that same year a man twelve years older than me took up a new job, at age 31, having already spent several years in charge of monetary policy at the Treasury and working in Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit: in 1987 David Willets took over running the Centre for Policy Studies.
    • Voting Space
      • Sometimes it helps to take the geography out of the picture
      • Here is how the votes were shared out within each constituency back in 1987 – position in the triangle gives vote share
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=86
    • Here is David’s view of 1906-1974
      • “ What if instead of being born in 1956 I had been born fifty years earlier in 1906? Then a mother, depending of course on her social class, might have felt things were looking pretty good for her new born child. Britain was rich and powerful, with social reform on the way as well. She could not have expected that her son’s father would die in the trenches of the First World War..
    • The View continued
      • “… that then this young man would not be able to find work in the Great Depression, be conscripted in the Second World War and endure austerity after it. He would finally have retired in 1971 only to find his modest savings then destroyed by the worst ten years of inflation in our nation’s history. It was an unlucky generation”.
      • According to: The Pinch: How the baby boomers took their children’s future – and why they should give it back. David Willetts, 2010 (Atlantic Books, London, pages xvi-xvii)
    • Voting spacetime
      • Postwar voting swung, from ‘left-right-class-fight’ to sickle shaped battles with a growing vacuum at its centre: created by having three party politics under first past the post elections.
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=126
    • 1987 and all that
      • How you read history depends on your geographies.
      • In 1974 both David and I lived in Oxford. He at Christ Church and me in Cowley – both in that happy pink Oxford face (in a sea of blue).
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=152
    • My view of 1918-1986
      • “ What if instead of being born in 1968 I had been born fifty years earlier in 1918? Then my mother (almost all were of a low social class) would have known there was a good chance her new born child would die before she did. Britain was rich and powerful, but almost none of that benefitted her or her child… it was not the great era David imagines…
    • My view continued
      • “… I would not have known that this young man would be politically galvanised in the Great Depression, have his life defined by the Second World War and celebrate what came after it: the NHS, secondary education for all, work in place of fear. He would spend most of his working life receiving a higher wage than anyone in his family ever had and one more similar to his neighbours than had been experienced for centuries. He would retire in 1983 and watch a country appear to be being ruined by the Tories*”.
      • *See Patrick Wrights’ “A Journey Through the Ruins, Flamingo, New Edition, 1993.
    • Swinging in ‘87
      • Most of Britain agreed with me by the mid 1980s.
      • Arrows pointing down and to the left swung towards Labour.
      • Straight down was away from the Liberal ‘Alliance’.
      • Only a very few then swung to the right.
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=145
    • End of context
      • However, while I was drawing pictures like this in Newcastle – not realising that no one understood them, Mr Willetts was standing to be a member of parliament and then grew a second brain (a tongue in cheek complement he was given by his ‘friends’).
      • Mr Willetts’ thoughts help explain where we are now .
      Image available at: http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/thesis/print_display.php?print=136
    • Part 2 – trends 1918-2010
      • What come next is series of pieces of new evidence brought together in preparation for my forthcoming book; Injustice: why social inequality persists.
      • What would happen today if we chose to either create greater or less inequality; and what is different today that might make the difference as to which way we turn?
    • Consider three time series
      • Geographical Inequalities in Health 1918-2008
      • Social Inequalities in Income and Wealth 1918- 2009
      • Political Inequalities in the segregation of voters 1918-2010
    • Inequality: 1918 to 2008/9/10
    • Inequalities in survival chances to age 65 by area in Britain, 1920-2006 + 2007/8 Graph is figure 12 in “Injustice: why social inequality persists, published April 2010” Lines show excess mortality of the worse off 30% and fewer deaths to the best off 10%
    • Share of all income received by the richest 1% in Britain, 1918–2009 Graph is figure 14 in “Injustice: why social inequality persists, published April 2010” Lines show pre- and post-tax shares (below). Note divergence again by 2009
    • Concentration of Conservative votes, British general elections, 1918–2010 Graph is figure 14 in “Injustice: why social inequality persists, published April 2010” ? Proportion of Conservative voters to move to spread them geographically equally
    • Are times changing?
      • When times are changing it is not evident to those on the ground. You have to look for signs.
      • I will take as a sign the latest publication from a middle of the road highly respectable think tank and see what three of the great and the good now say in “Jobs, industry and opportunity: Growth strategies after the crisis” (published 16/2/2010) and show you what they say below.
      • Policy Network’s president is Peter Mandelson.
    • Are we asking new questions?
      • “ A key issue is the border between the market and the non-market, where that line should be drawn and what are the consequences for drawing it in one place rather than another. After three decades during which the market sphere has expanded into more and more areas, there is an urgent need for a fresh assessment of the ecology of enterprises and organisations it is desirable to promote, and how power is distributed within different sectors of the economy.”
      • Andrew Gamble: professor and head of the politics department at the University of Cambridge in “Jobs, industry and opportunity: Growth strategies after the crisis”
    • Are we suggesting new possibilities?
      • “… the UK must at least work towards:
      • The immediate development of a publicly-owned industrial bank, charged with facilitating balanced regional growth by small and medium sized companies.
      • The rapid and extensive public provision of social housing, to ease rental and mortgage burdens on working and middle class families.
      • An active extension of individual and collective worker rights, to build a rising wage floor and a new social contract underneath industrial growth”
      • David Coates: Professor of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University in “Jobs, industry and opportunity: Growth strategies after the crisis”
    • And, as before, are allegations of direct self-interest being made?
      • “ The Fed’s loose monetary policy almost certainly was designed to help get Alan Greenspan reappointed in May 2004, and to help get George W. Bush reelected in November 2004; interest rates began rising within weeks of the election. The regulatory laxity of the nation’s ostensible financial guardians was enabled and encouraged by the undue influence of banks and other financial institutions on the agencies that were supposed to be regulating them.”
      • Jeffry Frieden: professor of government at Harvard University in “Jobs, industry and opportunity: Growth strategies after the crisis”
    • Part 3 – what about your vote?
      • So, will your vote count?
      • Try to think about more than just the next election
      • You get to vote in about 18 general elections if you live a long life
      http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/maps/elections/elections.htm
    • Local and General Elections
      • http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/maps/elections/local/hex_control_74to08_variable.html
      http://sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/maps/elections/elections.htm
    • Conclusion: I would say
      • Voting is not an end in itself. But it makes it possible to achieve other important objectives of individuals and societies. It can spare people en masse from poverty and drudgery. Nothing else but cooperation ever has. Democracy also creates the resources to support health care, education…We do not know if limits to democracy exist, or how generous those limits will be. The answer will depend on our ingenuity and technology, on finding new ways to work together in ways we value on an uncertain foundation of mutual respect. This is likely to be the ultimate challenge of the coming century. Democracy and inequality reduction in the future will depend on our ability to meet it…
      • But I stole over half these words from others...
    • Others obsessed with growth
      • “ Growth is not an end in itself. But it makes it possible to achieve other important objectives of individuals and societies. It can spare people en masse from poverty and drudgery. Nothing else ever has. It also creates the resources to support health care, education…We do not know if limits to growth exist, or how generous those limits will be. The answer will depend on our ingenuity and technology, on finding new ways to create goods and services that people value on a finite foundation of natural resources. This is likely to be the ultimate challenge of the coming century. Growth and poverty reduction in the future will depend on our ability to meet it…” CGD (2008).
      • The Growth Report 2008: Strategies for Sustained Growth and Inclusive Development. Washington D.C., The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development , and The World Bank, on behalf of the Commission on Growth and Development (CGD).
    • Could we come to think that?:
      • Worldwide it has been the very opposite of what World Bankers say that has spared people from poverty and drudgery. It has been through curtailing growth and greed that most people who have been spared from poverty have mostly seen their parents brought out of it. Trade unions curtailed profiteering by bosses and argued wages up. Governments nationalized health services and freed their citizens from fear by curtailing the greed of private physicians. Americans had a revolution to overcome the greed of the English; the English reduced poverty at home by exploiting others abroad, but also partly by occasionally voting down the power of the aristocracy, most obviously between 1906 and 1974 to distribute wealth better across Britain.
      How many brains do you need to understand this?
    • Final thanks to:
      • Local election data supplied by Michael Thrasher, Colin Rallings and their team at the Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre at the University of Plymouth
      • General election data by of Bruce Tether and James Cornford (when at Newcastle) Kevin Holohan, David Cutts, and Ron Johnston (at Bristol), Heather Eyre (at Leeds), John Pritchard (at Sheffield), William Field (who supplied the raw 1885-1951 data), Ron Johnston (who found the source for the data from 1832-1885), and Michael Thrasher
      • Cartogram algorithms by Bethan Thomas, Mark Newman and Michael Gastner.
      • Votes in the IMF (2006)
      • http://www.worldmapper.org /images/largepng/365.png
      Tackling social inequality. Who’s vote makes the most difference? The fully animated version of this slideshow is available as a PowerPoint document on http://sheffield.ac.uk/geography/staff/dorling_danny/lectures.html