How Labour has redistributed from rich to poor

New data shows how tax changes have benefited the poorest 10 per cent.

Robin Cook was always fond of hailing Tony Blair's Labour government as the most redistributive since Lloyd George, and now here's the data to prove it.

The graph below, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, shows how New Labour's tax and benefits changes have redistributed wealth from the poorest to the richest since 1997.

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Under Labour, the poorest 10 per cent of households have gained by 13 per cent, while the richest 10 per cent have lost by almost 9 per cent.

With the Tories still committed to their grossly regressive plan to raise the inheritance-tax threshold to £1m and the Lib Dems' tax plans likely to widen income inequality, it's clear that only Labour can be trusted to combine redistribution with growth.

The party's deficit reduction plan, based on a ratio of 67 per cent spending cuts to 33 per cent tax rises, is also the most progressive.

The Tories plan to reduce the deficit through an 80:20 mix of cuts and taxes, while the Lib Dems, as Nick Clegg boasted to the Spectator, plan to do so through spending cuts alone.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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