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Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), a man who was on two occasions the prime minister of Great Britain, once said, "There are three types of lies - lies, damned lies and statistics". One of the implications of his remark is that statistics are not only frequently untrue, but are often deliberately used falsely. And yet, statistics can be very revealing because they can quantify, and therefore clarify, that which may be hidden or obscured. When they do this the revelation that they uncover can be startling.
Yesterday my newspaper reported a statistic that not only brought me up short, but made me feel extremely uncomfortable: in fact, made me feel ashamed to be part of our society. The charity, Oxfam*, has calculated that the total wealth of the five richest British families exceeds that of the poorest 20% of the population. In other words this, handful of rich people have more money and assets than the least well-off 12.6 million Britons. Could the starkness of that contrast, the iniquity of that inequality, the shame that it brings to every politician and law maker, and to every individual voter, be made without the force of that statistic? I would encourage anyone who reads that statistic and is as appalled by it as I am, to at the very least, remember it when elections come along; to cast their vote for the party that pledges to reduce inequality; to vote for those who will ensure the rich pay a greater share of their wealth to achieve that goal; and only endorse those determined that the poor and less well-off will receive a larger share of the national income.
I was recently in Canary Wharf. Along with the City of London (the financial district not the greater metropolitan area) this is one of the two centres of finance in the UK. It exudes wealth. From the up-market eateries to the private security guards, manicured gardens and spotless streets it speaks of money. What better to represent today's post than the gleaming steel and glistening glass of two of the many banks to be found there.
* In January 2014 Oxfam also reported that the 85 richest people in the world had more wealth and assets than the poorest half of the world's population!
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/400 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On