Influential thinker shares his vision of a better politics for Britain
9 January 2017 - Carrie Braithwaite
Influential human geographer, Danny Dorling, will discuss his latest book, ‘A Better Politics’, at a public talk at Leeds Beckett University on Thursday 12 January.
Danny’s talk will take place at Leeds Beckett’s city centre Rose Bowl building from 6 – 7.30pm. It is free to attend and can be booked here.
Drawing on the subject of his latest, highly-acclaimed, book, Danny will present his vision of a better politics as one that will enable future generations to be happier. He will argue that there are many policies that we could adopt if we really want to be collectively happier and healthier, and that we could have a government that makes our lives happier, if we win the argument for it.
Danny explained: “I am always surprised that more people in the UK do not know that we now have the greatest economic inequality of any large country in Europe; if the take of the best-off 10 per cent or one per cent is used to define that place. I am surprised that many people do not know that we have chosen to tax and spend far less than almost any other country in Europe apart from Ireland. I am surprised people do not know that we fund our national health service at half the rate that the Swiss fund their public health services per head, or that their one per cent take half as much as our one per cent.”
Danny Dorling is Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography and Fellow of St Peter's College at the University of Oxford. With a group of colleagues, he helped create the Worldmapper website which shows who has most and least in the world. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education, wealth and poverty.
Danny added: “Changes are already beginning. Disastrous government polices such as ‘help to buy’ were scrapped in December 2016. The ‘pay to stay’ in social housing policy was abandoned in November 2016. And this is just in housing. However, we have a huge way to go if we are to even try to emulate the living standards of an average Western European country. And first we need to know how much worse we do in education, health and housing than most other Europeans do, and that none of these problems are a result of immigration.
“In fact without continued immigration, it will become much harder to staff our schools, hospitals and care homes and to build those homes that we do need. A great deal needs to change. It will most probably change slowly, one policy and election at a time, many things will get worse; but when it comes to economic inequality they can only get better - because it is not possible to do worse than be the most economically unequal country in Europe.”
Dr Paul Wetherly, Reader in Politics at Leeds Beckett, said: “It’s great that Danny is coming to speak at the University again. He is one of Britain’s most influential thinkers, at the forefront of political debate, and is an engaging and inspiring speaker. Danny’s theme of ‘A Better Politics’, based on his recent book, is really important when there seems to be no end in sight to the social and economic harms caused by the politics of austerity, felt acutely by those who are ‘left behind’ or ‘just about managing’, and when trust in politics has declined.
“Danny argues that a better politics that increases happiness is not a utopian goal but can be achieved through a range of realistic policies based on evidence about what matters most to people. It is political choices that can make a much greater difference to our happiness than anything we can do as individuals. The lecture is a public event and will be of interest to anyone who is interested in our current political problems and wants to hear an optimistic view of the possibility of something better.”
Danny’s talk is Leeds Beckett University’s 2017 Annual Politics Lecture, organised by the University’s Politics and International Relations Group.