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UN’s Poverty Guru, Philip Alston, Has No Clue At All

It’s entirely true that modern Britain isn’t perfect, similarly that there are a number of things that can be done to make it a better place. But it is necessary, when devising such plans, to have a clue or two about what the UK is like currently. This being the test entirely failed by Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on poverty.

We’ve taken issue with him before, several times. We’ve even corresponded with him to no avail in correcting his errors.

At which point, the latest:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Speaking before a speech at a Guardian Live event in central London on Tuesday, Alston said that since he came to study the UK after an invitation from the British government, “the extent of the social problems and their trajectory indicates things are going badly”. He and his team have been tracking developments in Britain, including the government’s own data that shows absolute poverty among children is rising, inequality has jumped, food bank usage has reached record highs, including a 19% rise in 2018, and knife crime is widespread. [/perfectpullquote]

Just to pick one of those claims, a jump in inequality. Our normal measure is the Gini Index and here is that for the past few years.

This is evidence of rising inequality, is it?

You see a jump in that? Us neither.

As to the others, Britain has no absolute poverty, it simply doesn’t exist. There’s no one in the country at all trying to live on $1.90 a day. Prisoners in jail cells do better than that. Food bank usage is up? Doesn’t that mean that more people are gaining the food they need?

But to the specific point being made here. Alston is telling us that inequality has jumped. It hasn’t, over recent years it has fallen. So, we can and should dismiss his entire thesis as the colei* it is, shouldn’t we?


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5 years ago

Oh he has a clue alright. A clue as to how to feather his own nest.

Andrew Carey
Andrew Carey
5 years ago

If Alstom looked at freedom for those on low incomes he would be onto something. Freedom from high taxes relative to income such as council tax, the unaccountable BBC, and the VED for the sorts of cars people on low incomes buy. Freedom from green taxes which drive up energy bills. Freedom to trade in recreational drugs or sex from shared premises – prohibited by law in the UK. Etc.
Why oh why did he overlook these things.
It’s almost as if he wants to criticise governments he dislikes rather than connect with people living in a crappy life.

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