So David ‘Diddy’ Cameron tentatively acknowledges the significance of relative poverty. Mmmm. I suppose we should be pleased, but for some reason all it does for me is trigger a residual bitterness from the Thatcher years.
The Black Report, published in 1980, was a monumental piece of research that proved - in as much as a piece of research ever proves anything - the link between social inequality and ill health. I am no expert on this (and I trust that there will be someone out there who will correct me if I am wrong), but my understanding of this research is that it showed conclusively that it is the gap between rich and poor that is the most significant indicator of ill health, not the absolute conditions in which poor people live (ie poor diet, poor housing etc). As the gap increases in modern capitalist societies, the health of the poor correspondingly decreases. The Black report argued that once a basic standard of living is achieved by a society, the health of the nation will only be improved by reducing inequalities.
Thatcher, unsurprisingly, sought to repress the report. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – that well known hot-bed of socialist radicalism – suggests that ‘the 1980 Black Report on inequalities in health has attained almost iconic status as the textbook example of a Government 'cover up'.’ Heady stuff indeed.
So I suppose I should be grateful, Mr Cameron, that you are bringing a long awaited touch of humanity to the Tory party. But somehow, I’m not.