Simon Carr: No wonder Deputy Clegg hates inequality

The Sketch: As Dave was in Davos with the billionaires, Nick was struggling to make ends meet

Simon Carr
Friday 27 January 2012 01:00

Of course they have their differences, Clegg said – and he might have gone on: "His father was a stockbroker, mine was a banker. He went to Oxford, I went to Cambridge. He has a blue tie, I have a yellow. He looks like Pinky and I look like Perky." You could try and explain the difference between Cameron and Clegg to a Japanese tourist but he'd surely say: "They look the same to me, mate."

One difference yesterday, the senior partner was in the company of billionaires and national leaders in Davos and Deputy Clegg was giving a pep talk to the Foundation for the Squeezed Middle. You can see why inequality ticks him off.

Anyway, the foundation has done research, analysed trends and produced a report to show that poor people struggle to make ends meet. It's that modern phenomenon, paying experts to spend 18 months coming up with the bleeding obvious. Only 63 per cent of people living on benefits expect never to own their own home. Lots of people on low incomes won't be going away on holiday this year. Oh, and everyone's struggling.

There he was, the DPM, speaking to this theme. We were told of the importance of "hitting the reset button on the economy". That's a big button. Our old friend "alarm clock Britain" appeared for a moment. I hit the snooze button but awoke to hear him declare earnestly: "The system should reward effort." And yet it swipes 40 per cent of the income of our most successful workers to give to people who pay no tax at all, is that FAIR? No, I'd dozed off again.

He said he'd delivered fairness to the bottom and was now preparing fairness for the middle and us in the audience. Shouldn't there be financial lessons in primary school, a man asked? I was scoffing until I remembered being seven at St Dominic's learning compound interest. Therein lies everything you need to know about thrift.

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