Vote Equality

How to make this the equality election

This election is a chance to change the direction of the UK and take real action on our entrenched inequality. Everyone knows our system is failing, with massive profits for the richest as our public services crumble and crises of health, housing, climate, and living costs go unchecked. 

Candidates will be happy to condemn the record of other parties when they ask for your vote – but are they prepared to take the action we need? 

That’s why we need you to ask the difficult questions – why are billionaires able to enrich themselves? Why do our systems impoverish people? What do our politicians plan to do about it?

By writing to local papers, phoning radio call-in shows, going to hustings, or even just asking questions to the people who knock on your door asking for your vote, there’s lots you can do to raise the pressure on politicians. This guide will give you the key information and some questions to get you started.

Stats About Our Inequality Crisis:

The UK’s severe levels of inequality enable the super rich to amass enormous resources, which harms us all. Our research shows that everyone in the UK could lead a better life if wealth and income were shared more equitably because more equal societies work better. 

  • Since 1990, billionaires in the UK have increased their wealth by over 1160% to over £697.2 billion, and the richest 50 families in the UK held more wealth than half of the UK population, comprising 33.5 million people. But child poverty and food bank use have reached new heights in the UK, hitting record levels this year. Clearly, this wealth increase for the richest is not benefiting us.
  • Compared to other developed countries the UK has a very unequal distribution of income, with a Gini coefficient of 0.351. The UK has one of the highest levels of income inequality in Europe, although it is less unequal than the United States.
  • The UK’s democracy and economy favours the rich and powerful, with decisions made benefiting them, increasing their influence, and harming the rest of us. Privatised utilities like our water companies have extracted £72bn in dividends while dumping record amounts of raw sewage. Profits at gas companies like British Gas rose 900% in 2023. Banks made nearly £30bn in profits from interest rate hikes in the first six months of 2023. Oil and gas companies paid huge dividends while slashing investment in renewables. 
  • Our research found that compared to the average for developed OECD countries, the consequences of the UK’s greater inequality cost us £106.2 billion yearly. Compared to the top five most equal countries, the UK’s inequality cost us £128.4 billion yearly.
  • The UK’s inequality is lowering everyone’s quality of life, from higher crime, worse health and mental health, and poorer educational outcomes to less trust in democracy – with this general election predicted to be our most unequal for decades. These poor outcomes make it difficult for our economy to grow or our communities to thrive.

Five key questions for every candidate:

Whether you’re at a hustings or someone’s knocking at your door asking for your vote, every candidate should be able to answer these questions. You don’t even need to wait for them to come to you – find your local candidates using this tool and email them the below questions.

The wealth of the richest has been growing unsustainably at our expense. Wealth taxes are crucial to get this under control. Polls indicate 78% of the UK public supports a wealth tax on those with over £10m, and wealth taxes like this could raise over £50bn a year. 

If they don’t back a wealth tax, they should at least recognise the unfairness of taxing income from work much more than the passive, unearned income from wealth – will they commit to raising taxes like Capital Gains Tax? Will they tax the rich at all?

The socio-economic duty is part of The Equality Act (2010) which was never brought into force. It would require public bodies to adopt transparent and effective measures to address the inequalities that result from differences in occupation, education, place of residence, or social class. Trade union bodies like the GFTU believe it would help make austerity unlawful in future, and it would provide an crucial tool for governments to begin treating inequality like a crisis.

Austerity, the cost of living crisis, and our structurally unequal system has hurt many people, and that hurt has been distributed very unequally. It means that many people can’t fully participate in society, holding back our economy and hurting communities. Getting the economy growing or any real change requires that the government invests in people: a social security system that at the very least covers the cost of essentials; universal access to basic services; a care system that works for everyone; and universal access to safe, affordable homes.

Privatised utilities have hiked our bills to create shareholder profits while the utilities fail. Sewage dumping, gas shortages, leaking pipes, an inefficient electricity grid, expensive and crowded transport: no wonder people overwhelmingly want to see water, gas, electricity, rail, healthcare, buses, mail and more nationalised. This would save the public billions, wipe thousands off our bills, and give us democratic control over the future of our essential services.

People have no trust in politicians and faith in democracy is falling. We need to adopt a fair voting system with proportional representation, introduce strict lobbying and donation regulations, and devolve real power to the people. As well as funding and empowering local government, we need to let people participate in government by introducing peoples’ assemblies and co-production on a local level. 

How to Do A Radio Call In

A lot of radio stations, particularly LBC, like to have members of the public call in to discuss their views or ask questions of public figures. This is a great way to get politicians talking about the problems of inequality and can potentially reach a lot of listeners.

This will be live on the radio, so it’s not for everyone – you’ll need to feel confident that you can give your opinion and back it up strongly with a couple of key bits of evidence, such as the stats above. Politicians are often quite good at reshaping a question to talk about what they want to talk about, so you’ll need to be quite strong willed to keep the focus on your question!

We’ve all got stories about the impact of the last few years that have stuck with us, and these can very effectively make points about the impact of austerity. For example, this caller into LBC talking about their experience as a pharmacist seeing patients who can’t afford medicine. What we need to do is show how these stories are the consequence of structural inequality, and make a clear demand for change.

If it’s a question and answer format, try asking a question based on your local experiences. For example:

  • Where I live, I’ve seen a big increase in the number of people relying on foodbanks. I’ve also heard that billionaire wealth has increased by 1100% since 1990. Why isn’t that being taxed and used to help people get through the cost of living crisis?
  • I work at a school, and so many pupils have come to school hungry. We do what we can, but it’s very clear that the biggest cause of the child poverty I’m seeing right now is the two-child limit on child benefits. I want to know why politicians won’t tax the rich to stop children going hungry?
  • I’ve seen the rivers in my area get more and more sewage dumped in them, and it infuriates me that water companies are getting away with it. No other country in the world privatised their water system like England and Wales did, and what do we have to show for it? Record pollution because hedge funds took £72bn of dividends instead of fixing pipe. Why can’t we do what every other country did and put them back under public control?

Listen to LBC; they’ll let you know at the start of the show which subjects they’re interested in talking about and when they’ll start taking calls. You can also check their social media feed, where they sometimes announce what the calls should be on.

Then, call 0345 60 60 973. They’ll take your information, what you want to talk about, and whether you’re a candidate in the election. Then, if they accept you, you’re on air!

  • Make sure you’re somewhere you can talk with little background noise, strong signal, and enough battery.
  • It’s particularly effective if the topic is something that you have personal experience with, such as talking about services closing in your area or talking about your experience working as a doctor.
  • It’s helpful to write down a few bullet points of the key points you want to make on a bit of scrap paper and keep that in front of you – it’s easy to get flustered and forgot to say your key fact.
  • It’s tempting to try and say everything, but you can’t! Focus on one clear problem and a key demand to fix it.

Writing to Local Papers

Many local papers feature online and print letters sections, where you can write in to make points or ask questions. Often local MPs and candidates are doing the same thing, as well as checking what their constituents are saying, so it’s a good way to get an issue into their head.

Here’s a good example that Drs Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson sent to the Guardian in 2019 – they related the letter to a specific article, which makes it more likely that a paper will print it.

  • Keep it short: They won’t print an essay, no matter how good. Check your local paper, but a good guideline is 150 words or less. Try to focus on one issue and one simple demand. A good tip is to make sure your most important point is in the first sentence.
  • Keep it local: If you’re only talking about national politics, it might be more difficult to get printed. Talk about issues that affect your local communities, or talk about a national issue by describing how it affects people in the area.
  • Keep it relatable: Starting from a simple point that a lot of people already agree with, or an experience a lot of people have had, makes it much easier for people to agree with your points.
  • If it’s printed, post it on social media: Double your audience – and make sure you tag us in the post!

Find a Hustings

A hustings is debate organised for political candidates in your constituency. They might be organised by a local non-partisan body like a residents association or religious organisation, or designed to address a particular topic and hosted by a related charity or campaign group.

The easiest way to find a hustings near you is to search the internet, check local papers, libraries, community centres or by contacting the candidates directly.

We know that a lot of candidates don’t understand the issues around inequality, and many others simply prefer not to discuss it, so this is a great way to raise awareness in front of a crowd.

Check if your hustings is setting the questions in advance or taking them from the floor. Some will want you to send in questions ahead of time, while others while need to you raise your hand faster than everyone else. Here are some key tips.

  • Keep it short and simple: You can’t cover everything, so stick to a simple point with a clear question at the end. For example: “The UK is one of the most unequal countries in Europe, and the cost of living crisis and pandemic made some people very rich while the rest of us struggled. How do you plan to fix that inequality?”
  • Be polite and respectful: Don’t let them write off your question because they don’t like how you asked it!
  • Appeal to the others in the audience: Although you’re asking questions to the panel, everyone else is the room is deciding whether they agree with you or not. Frame your question in a way everyone else can understand and relate to, and you’ll win over the room even if the candidates disagree with you.
  • Get on social media: Many hustings are filmed or put on social media by journalists. Get a video clip or photo of you asking the question and put it onto social media – and tag us too!

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