Below is the text of Mr Major’s statement on The Growing Divide Book. The text was issued by Conservative Central Office, news release 543/87 on Tuesday 9 June 1987.
The authors [of The Growing Divide] have not compared like with like. Their figures for real disposable income in 1979 include housing benefit, but their figures for 1985 do not include it. This is either incompetence or a shameless distortion. But in either event it totally destroys their conclusion. It reduces their tract to a political essay which manipulates the statistical evidence to reach a false conclusion.
Moreover, the authors’ conclusions do not square with those of the Central Statistical Office’s published income distribution figures. The fact is that the average income of the poorest fifth of the population has risen since 1979 – in sharp contrast to what could be expected under a Labour government which was already pledged to raise taxes and cut allowances even for the poorest.