David Cameron made an embarrassing slip up on Prime Minister’s Question Time, proudly stating that pay inequality has gone up under the Tories when grilled by Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams last night.
The Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth asked Mr Cameron if he supported the idea that businesses should publish data about the pay gap between their top and average salaries.
It would seem in the spirit of ‘transparency’, Mr Cameron made it very clear that ‘income equality has actually fallen’ since he became Prime Minister.
He said: “I am a great supporter of transparency in these things, as we have proved in the government.
“But let’s be clear since I have become Prime Minister income equality has actually fallen whereas it went up under Labour. Those are the facts.”
The gaffe could be forgiven in the heat of the moment but then his press office tweeted it out word for word.
Needless to say the tweet has been deleted but not before the Labour Press Team could seize upon the opportunity to retweet it and MM could get a sneaky screenshot of it.
While keen to see the funny side, Ms Abrahams warned that this slip up by Mr Cameron suggests a not-so-amusing untrustworthy side to the PM.
She said: “I can’t quite decide if this is a moment of refreshing honesty or an example of a Freudian slip from the Prime Minister!
“Amusing as it is we shouldn’t be distracted from the fact that, once again, David Cameron has shown he can’t be trusted to give a straight-forward answer to a straight-forward question at PMQs.
“By dodging the question Mr Cameron is simply demonstrating how he’s prepared to turn a blind eye to the widening inequalities between the rich and poor in the UK and the damaging effect that has on society.”
Ms Abrahams’ question to the PM comes after analysis from the High Pay Centre showed that in the UK FTSE 100 bosses earn more in two day’s work than the average full-time employee does in a year.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that the median yearly salary for full-time workers is £27,645.
But FTSE 100 chiefs earn a mean salary of £4,964,000 per annum, according to the High Pay Centre’s analysis – this works out as £1,260 every hour.
So, based on a 12-hour day with hardly any breaks, in just two days a FTSE 100 boss will make £30,240 – that’s £2,595 more than the average yearly income.
These figures compare two different types of average – mean with median – and on a like-for-like basis the gap does narrow.
But even then the High Pay Centre’s stats also show that the average FTSE 100 chief executive earns 140-150 times more than the average worker.
Ms Abrahams said: “Last year the International Monetary Fund warned income inequalities is ‘the most defining challenge of our time; is getting worse and slows economic growth’.
“By last night FTSE 100 chief executives will have been paid more for five days’ work than the average UK worker will be paid for the whole of 2016, getting a pay rise of nearly 50% last year, while the average worker had a pay rise of less than 2%.”
The average income of the UK’s richest 10% is almost 10 times as large as that of the poorest, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
This means the UK’s level of income inequality is the fifth highest among other OECD countries topped only by Israel, the United States of America, Turkey and Mexico.
It may be bad but there is nothing to suggest it’s to do with the Tories being in power as the ONS describes the recent trend for the wage gap as ‘broadly flat’.
Under Labour income inequality went up in the years before 2009 and then dropped in the following year – again leaving the in/out figures roughly the same overall.
Whether income inequality is up or down or even the same it is probably something the Prime Minister should know.
And in light of this recent blunder, let’s remember when Mr Cameron declared that he ‘resented’ poor people at the 2014 Conservative Party Conference.
He meant to say ‘represented’.
Main image courtesy of Channel 4 News, via YouTube, with thanks.