It is not possible to tackle poverty without tackling vast wealth inequality. This is one area in which the New Labour project deliberately failed itself and its followers. The party showed ambivalence to inequality as they attempted to move away from accusations of fearing ambition and success, in the retention of their re-found electability. But any party that is serious about tackling poverty, inequalities in opportunity and social injustice has to remember one thing. Poverty is relative.
In a society of abundance poverty is the result of mass inequality and the author of systematic disadvantage. To remove one without the other is a mere contradiction – an impossibility. Tackling vast material inequality and opportunity inequalities is not the politics of envy, but the politics of caring and the politics of fairness.
‘What the thoughtful rich people call the problem of poverty, thoughtful poor people call with equal justice a problem of the riches’ (Tawney, 1913:10).