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50 Years Ago:“You’ve never had it so good”

“You’ve never had it so good”

What is really astounding about Macmillan's boast is that, at least on average, it contains an element of truth, remembering however that the rich too are in the average figures. The state of most British workers really is a little better than it has ever been before. Of course there are large numbers of clerical workers (including most of the civil service, bank clerks and others) who are worse off than they were before the war, and some industrial workers, including London busmen, are also worse off. But with fewer unemployed and several million married women enjoying the dubious advantage of doing two jobs, home and away, working class purchasing power has gone up. But what a commentary on capitalism that this small advance can be hailed as a social revolution and set the church worrying about the corrupting influence of working class "riches"!

Just about the turn of the year agricultural workers advanced to £8 a week for 46 hours toil. Hundreds of thousands of other men in industry and transport are on much the same level. The average earnings of women of 18 and over in manufacturing industry is £6 17 0 a week —hardly a corrupting level of affluence. And there are over 2 million people who in the course of a year are poor enough to qualify for National Assistance—with wives and children the number is much larger.

(from article by H, Socialist Standard, February 1960)