The UK is one of the most unequal countries in Europe, second only to Bulgaria. 

Not that this was always the case.

Back in the 1970s, the UK was one of the most equal places, with the gap between rich and poor at its lowest point. Life expectancy was on the increase but now,  whilst most European countries have seen life expectancy increase, it is in reverse her now.

The burgeoning inequality of the past 40 years has brought the UK to the point where it is a shattered nation – things just don’t work.

Academic Professor Danny Dorling has produced a devastating critique of how the UK got into the state it is today, with education increasingly the preserve of the wealthy, a health system that is falling apart and homelessness and hunger on the increase.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan is concerned about the differences between England and other European countriesPaul Donovan is concerned about the differences between England and other European countries

In Shattered Nation, Prof Dorling highlights how according to the census figures there are 66 million rooms available in the UK, with 22 million empty. 

There needs to be adjustments made, penalising those with second homes and bringing in rent controls. 

It used to be possible for anyone to go to university for free. Grants were provided to see students through. Today, fees of £9,000 are charged for the course, with most students now having work to pay their way. Few leave university without a huge debt burden round their necks.

The health service has been cut so the UK was more badly hit by Covid than other countries with fully funded services

Indeed, other countries are all moving towards a more equal, harmonious status. 

The home country closest to the European model is Scotland, where university education is free. Water and railways reside in public ownership and child benefit support is not restricted to the first two children.

The ongoing shattering of the UK is likely to see Scotland get independence, with the other home nations not far behind.

Professor Dorling offers a devastating critique as to how a few grow ever richer, whilst the mass of people struggle. It is not a model of development that can sustain much longer.

The next government needs to start moving the levers to make the UK a genuine, more equal, egalitarian place to live. Failure to do so will see the divisions grow ever deeper.

Professor Dorling will discuss his book at the Wanstead Tap in October.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and blogger (