Thanks to those of you who attended Progress's third First 100 Days event on Tuesday, More justice, more equality?
The panel comprised James Purnell, Jenny Watson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Kate Green of Child Poverty Action Group, and Sadiq Khan, who we were particularly grateful to for joining the panel at the last minute. Jane Roberts, our patron, did an excellent job chairing the event.
All had excellent, interesting things to say on what is such a broad topic, notably on on family policy and rights at work, but the overriding concern on budget day was certainly economic inequality. All the panelists had something to say about this, as it so often feeds into other forms of equality: Jenny Watson, for example, pointed out that it was the poorest mothers who often took the maternity leave.
There was agreement that a the desire to make Britain a fairer, and yes, an economically more equal place was something that traditionally made Labour distinctive as a party. Kate Green argued for that the government's rhetoric and actions in recent years had not reflected this, despite the real gains made in lifting families and pensioners out of poverty. She pointed out that Labour had rallied the country behind the cause of social justice back in 1997, and called for it to rekindle this mood.
James Purnell agreed. He proposed an ambitious new goal for government, to set itself the long-term target of eliminating the relationship between birth and life chances, to be regularly audited, rather like climate change. Denmark had shown it was possible, he said, and it would provide a real dividing line with the Tories, seriously putting their newfound compassion to the test.
This dividing line, though - has the tax-cutting of Brown's last budget actually 'blurred' it, as Polly Toynbee argues in the Guardian today? This has to be the worry, especially when the Taxpayers' Alliance (of all people) have described Wednesday's budget as 'George Osborne's first' ...