Inequality Economist Thomas Piketty Backs Labour in UK Election


The UK government would be better off under a Labour government than a Conservative one, according to French economist, Thomas Piketty, who was recently named one of Time magazine's top 100 most influential people in the world.

Speaking at a meeting of the Anglo American Press Association of Paris last night, on the eve of one of the closest and unpredictable elections for generations, Piketty advised voters to pick Labour, saying that another five years under the Conservatives would only boost inequality.

Asked whether inequality had risen in Britain under the Tories, Piketty said: "Overall, yes, I would say so."

The economist's award-winning book Capital in the 21st Century became a best-seller in the United States last year and led to an invitation to the White House to talk with top economic advisors to President Barack Obama.

According to French media he told reporters: "The Labour party is in a better position than the Conservatives to promote growth, equitable growth and more investment in education and public services and keep Britain in the EU."

"The Conservative party's policies with respect to the European Union strike me as very populist and very dangerous," he added, in relation to a question on the Conservative party's leader David Cameron's pledge to hold a referendum on leaving the EU in 2017 if he is re-elected.

"Speaking from France I can see that when you don't manage to solve your domestic social problems it's always tempting to blame others," he said. "So you can blame foreign workers, you can blame Brussels, you can blame Germany, you can blame China, there's always lots of people to blame for your problems, but that's not going to solve them."

Piketty's book, translated into English last year, put an international focus on income and wealth inequality, and has been described as "The most influential published by an economist in a generation." In it he argued that wealth is becoming ever more concentrated at the top of society.

The economist also took the opportunity to attack the French socialist government of François Hollande, a man he had previously supported. "It's as if the Socialist party has been in opposition for 10 years between 2002 and 2012 and that they never really thought what they would do when in power," said Piketty.

He also expressed concern over a possible Grexit, telling a Forbes reporter: "It would be a catastrophe for the Eurozone if Greece were pushed out. It would be the beginning of the end of the single currency."

"People every morning would be asking 'Who will be the next to leave?'" he warned. "And the governments of France and Germany have not prepared public opinion for such an eventuality; they would have to do that very quickly."