Economic inequality is growing in the UK. The government is slashing the welfare state, while parts of the media demonise disabled people, benefit recipients and the working class generally. Since the 1990s, churches in the UK have spoken out strongly about global inequality. Are we now prepared to speak up just as strongly about inequality in the UK, and to make the links with the global situation?
“Even the burial of his body in the Abbey was a species of theft when you come to think of it”. George Orwell's words came into my mind as I watched the ceremonies surrounding today's 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.
“It's aw a muddle, lass. Aw a muddle.” This was the dying lament of Stephen Blackpool, the power-loom operator of Hard Times who was driven to physical and emotional ruin by the ruthless economic and industrial system of his day.
A few weeks ago I had a holiday in India. I used to live there and so I might be one of the few foreigners who actually loves arriving in Delhi, stepping out of the airport into the cruel heat, sooty air and architecture of the perpetually half-built.
Travelling around as a comparatively prosperous person in a country marked by significant poverty and inequality is not easy - unless you are largely insensitive to these things, which sadly, some Westerners seem to be, just reckoning that "this is simply the way things are" and revelling in how much their overvalued dollar can buy.
The health gap between the richest and poorest in Britain is now wider than it was during the great depression, according to researchers from Sheffield and Bristol Universities. The figures reflect a similar growth in economic inequality.