The New Labour Record On Income Growth

I feel like I constantly read references to the failures of the Blair/Brown “New Labour” regime in the U.K. from British lefties, but I rarely see specific data. Lane Kenworthy seems to me to have made a pretty compelling case for New Labour back in June 2009, and until I see a rebuttal of it, I’m inclined to believe that rather than undermining the case for progressive neoliberalism, the New Labour experience bolsters it:

This is hardly to say that Blair and Brown are above criticism or that every decision (Iraq, e.g.) they made was correct. But the basic story here is of broad-based income growth, with the incomes of below-median households growing faster than those of above-median households and of a radical change in the distributional trajectory of growth vis-a-vis where it had been during the Thatcher years. In Blair’s Britain as in Lula’s Brazil, we see examples of growth-oriented policies plus taxation and redistribution working to make it be the case that the tide rises and lifts all the boats. Obviously, one can’t really say the same for Obama’s America. But that’s because of a failure to deliver economic growth, not because the concept of growth + redistribution is some kind of unworkable chimera.