On Tuesday 7th March 2017, Blueprint hosted a screening of feature-length documentary The Divide at Amnesty International. The event was well attended, with over 130 tickets bought by people of all ages, and from a range of backgrounds and professions.

Following the showing of the film, which was described by one attendee as “fantastic and terrifying”, there was a panel discussion between:

  • Jane Corbett (Chair). Jane is a Liverpool councillor and has the specific responsibility of leading the council’s work in making Liverpool a fairer city and standing up for those citizens who need the most help. Jane is also a member of the Blueprint Advisory Council.
  • Christopher Hird. Christo is the Executive Producer of The Divide, former chair of the Sheffield International Documentary Foundation and founding chair of the Channel Four Britdoc Foundation.
  • Rochelle Monte. Featured in the documentary, Rochelle has worked in the care industry for the majority of her adult life and saw The Divide as an opportunity to raise the issues of poor terms and conditions of care staff and to highlight the impact this causes on quality of care.
  • Alan Budd. A commentator in the documentary, Alan is a prominent economist, whose roles have included Chairman of the Interim Office for Budget Responsibility, founding member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, and Chief Economic Adviser at the Treasury.

After some initial questions from Jane, members of the audience asked the panellists about a diverse range of topics from: how AI will affect inequality and how the gender component of inequality can be addressed, to how pay ratios and the living wage enter into the debate. On more general terms, participants also asked what businesses, governments and individuals can and should be doing about this issue.

Alan made a poignant point that economics is not like physics, in that it’s laws can be changed. However, most economists don’t question the fundamental assumptions which underlie the system. Following this, he reflected on the role of economists in creating inequality, and concluded that whilst the economy as a whole is better off than 30 years ago, many individuals and communities have not been adequately compensated for the losses they experienced.

Rochelle commented on the role of businesses in addressing inequality, and called on them to respect people and better value their employees.

Christopher talked about what individuals could do after watching the film, asking people to join, campaign, support or boycott. “Change comes from social movements, take interest in this issue and make decisions based on it.”

Jane concluded the panel discussion with the idea that we can take positive steps forward by being transparent, purposeful and creating long-term relationships which recognise the integral value in each individual.

The evening provided thought-provoking discussion but there is much more to be done if inequality is going to be lessened. If you’d like to learn more or take action, please visit The Divide website to support one of the many organisations which are campaigning for a fairer economy.

See summaries of other Blueprint events here, or find out about upcoming events here.