Hopkin, Jonathan and Alexander Shaw, Kate
Organized combat or structural advantage? The politics of inequality and the winner-take-all economy in the United Kingdom.
Politics & Society, 44
Since 1970 the United Kingdom, like the United States, has developed a “winner-take-all” political economy characterized by widening inequality and spectacular income growth at the top of the distribution. However, Britain’s centralized executive branch and relatively insulated policymaking process are less amenable to the kind of “organized combat” that Hacker and Pierson describe for the United States. Britain’s winner-take-all politics is better explained by the rise of political ideas favoring unfettered markets that, over time, produce a self-perpetuating structural advantage for the richest. That advantage is, in turn, justified and sustained by reference to the same ideas. Inequality growth in the United Kingdom has been primarily driven by the financialization of the economy that began under the Thatcher government and continued under New Labour. The survival of pro-finance policies through the financial crisis provides further evidence that lobbying by a weakened City of London was less decisive in shaping policy than the financial sector’s continuing structural advantage and the tenacity of its supporting political consensus.
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