“Go easy on equality”

The UK’s Communities Minister has said that equality isn’t necessarily the best goal. OK, I’m thinking, maybe he’s going to discuss the Difference Principle (Rawls’ principle dictating that inequalities are allowable only if they’re to the benefit of the least well off)- that would be an interesting thing for a political to do! But no…

Basing fairness purely on “society’s response to those in greatest need” risked being unpopular, he said.

Hmm, that actually sounds pretty close to the Difference Principle so that’s definitely not what he’s going for. What, then, is this Labour politician arguing?

He told the Fabian Society: “We must confront the difficult truth: that this form of egalitarianism, the one that defines fairness solely in terms of society’s response to those in greatest need, is badly out of step with popular sentiment.
“A rejection of inequality – both absolute, relative and of opportunity – is absolutely core to who we are. But we will be more successful – not just electorally but in challenging unacceptable inequality – if we adopt and own a different, more nuanced view of fairness and equality.”
Mr Denham said Labour had to relate to the aspirations of people on middle incomes, adding that this group felt excluded by policies and language aimed at ‘the poor’.
He said this group were in fact more concerned about those in higher social classes.

Rejecting inequality is core to who we are, but we need to adopt a *different* view of equality. One not so concerned with, well, equality. What should it do instead? It’s very unclear– but looks like the idea is to focus on the aspirational middle class. So there you go. (Thanks, Mr Jender!)