Policy Press

Publishing with a purpose

The Richer, The Poorer

How Britain Enriched the Few and Failed the Poor. A 200-Year History

By Stewart Lansley

Published

Nov 25, 2021

Page count

304 pages

ISBN

978-1447363217

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Policy Press

Published

Nov 25, 2021

Page count

304 pages

ISBN

978-1447363200

Dimensions

234 x 156 mm

Imprint

Policy Press

Published

Nov 25, 2021

Page count

304 pages

ISBN

978-1447363224

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Policy Press
The Richer, The Poorer

The Richer, The Poorer charts the rollercoaster history of both rich and poor and the mechanisms that link wealth and impoverishment. This landmark book shows how, for 200 years, Britain’s most powerful elites have enriched themselves at the expense of surging inequality, mass poverty and weakened social resilience.

Stewart Lansley reveals how Britain’s model of ‘extractive capitalism’ – with a small elite securing an excessive slice of the economic cake – has created a two-century-long ‘high-inequality, high-poverty’ cycle, one broken for only a brief period after the Second World War. Why, he asks, are rich and poor citizens judged by very different standards? Why has social progress been so narrowly shared? With growing calls for a fairer post-COVID-19 society, what needs to be done to break Britain’s destructive poverty/inequality cycle?

"Lansley is a master of the telling anecdote and has produced a wonderfully readable and insightful history of how the rich have impoverished the poor." Jonathan Bradshaw, University of York

“A readable and illuminating context to our present day extreme inequalities, exposing the narratives that justify these persistent conditions and the folly of ignoring them.” Chuck Collins, Institute for Policy Studies

“An important and illuminating book, an essential antidote to the outdated and iniquitous idea that some people are worth more than others.” Kate Pickett, University of York

“Scrupulous, impressive and irrefutable. No one can read this damning historical portrait without wondering why we allow such grotesque gaps – seldom related to merit or social worth – to continue. An utterly necessary book.” David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain

"A remarkably informed and readable history with a powerful message: skyrocketing inequality is not just an economic drain; it is a moral stain.” Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University

Stewart Lansley is a visiting fellow in the School of Policy Studies, the University of Bristol, a Council member of the Progressive Economy Forum and a Research Associate at the Compass think-tank. He is a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and has written widely on poverty, wealth and inequality. His recent books include A Sharing Economy (2016), Breadline Britain, The Rise of Mass Poverty (with Joanna Mack, 2015) and The Cost of Inequality (2011).

Introduction: Knighthoods for the rich, penalties for the poor

Part 1: 1800-1939

1. Hierarchical discipline

2. Britain’s gilded age

3. Public penury and private ostentation

4. A roller-coaster ride

Part 2: 1940-59

5. The future belongs to us

6. Britain’s ‘New Deal'

7. Brave new world

8. A shallow consensus

Part 3: 1960-79

9. The rediscovery of poverty

10. Poorer under Labour

11. Consolidation or advance?

12. Peak equality

Part 4: 1980-96

13. Don’t mention the 'p' word

14. Zapping Labour

15. The dark shadow of the Poor Law

16. The great widening

17. Money worship

Part 5: 1997-2010

18. The elephant in the room

19. Still born to rule

20. "I'm not Mother Teresa"

21. The house of cards

22. The good, the bad and the ugly

Part 6: 2011-20

23. Divide and rule: playing politics with 'the poor'

24. A leaner state

25. Burning injustice

26. Growing rich in their sleep

27. The high-inequality, high-poverty cycle

Afterword: COVID-19 and the polo season