TUC 2012: Does inequality matter? New Labour didn't think so.
Everyone remembers Peter Mandelson saying he was intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.
The Tories clearly don't think it is an issue - their policies are designed to cushion the rich while the rest of us are facing severe cuts with the poorest and most disadvantaged bearing the brunt.
A whole generation has been told that inequality doesn't matter - what matters is improving living standards.
But since 2008 this theory has come crashing down.
The aftermath of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930s has seen the wealth divide between the richest and the rest continue to widen, with real wages falling by 7 per cent in the last two years - they're still falling - and personal fortunes at the top continuing to rise.
With a majority of people increasingly worried about jobs, benefits, rents, education and debt, inequality must now take centre-stage.
That's why the trade union-led think tank Class - the Centre for Labour and Social Studies - is launching a new publication, Why Inequality Matters, at a TUC fringe meeting this lunchtime.
Why Inequality Matters is the authorised shortened version of the best-selling book The Spirit Level - Why Equality Is Better For Everyone.
While The Spirit Level delivered ground-breaking research and changed the debate on equality, Class aims to take the findings forward and push inequality to the centre of the political arena.
Class brings together economists, academics and other experts to pull together policies that will chart a different course for Britain.
Through the production of high-quality, intellectually compelling publications and events Class will seek to shape ideas that provide the labour movement with the research, evidence and arguments we need to campaign for changes in policy.
Policies promoting growth, democratic control of the banks, progressive taxation, an industrial strategy, dealing with the housing crisis - all these are among the issues that Class will be tackling.
To pick up your free copy of Why Inequality Matters or to get involved in Class, visit Stand 6 at the TUC conference or attend our fringe meeting tomorrow at 12.45pm on Victoria Terrace in the Grand Hotel, Brighton.
- Class president Tim Roache
- Unite general secretary Len McCluskey
- The Spirit Level author Professor Richard Wilkinson
- The Spirit Level documentary director Katharine Round
- Independent columnist Owen Jones
- Huffington Post political director Mehdi Hassan
- For more information visit www.classthinktank.org.uk
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