At the last two General Elections we heard much about the wonderful affluent conditions in which we were living.
“You’ve never had it so good” was a Mac Wonder phrase
much in the air. We have also distinct memories of “doubling our standard of living within twenty-five years”. The air was as, Hamlet said “promise-crammed” but as he himself tartly added “you cannot feed capons so”.
These promises have now come home to roost. All the other old and well-worn phrases and threats have now been dusted and polished and taken out of storage. The air is now full of them, as threatening. For example, Selwyn Lloyd
I will simply point out that no one in the world owes us a living and if we don’t earn it by hard work in this field, the standard of living in this country will go down. It’s goodbye to dreams of expansion and social progress.
Translated this means—“Work harder. Don’t ask for higher wages or else … ”
And another pearl from Mr. Lloyd, “The whole emphasis should be on saving labour, or increasing efficiency and on being competitive”. Then as if to sugar the pill—“Far from that being a threat to full employment it is the only way to maintain it ”.
It would be interesting to hear the comments of the recently sacked motor workers (and those put on short time) on that last bit.
The facts of the matter are that in present-day competitive capitalist society goods can be sold only if, in terms of quality and price, they match up to, or improve upon similar or identical products from elsewhere: the ultimate purpose being to provide a profit for the owners. If this purpose of profit-making is threatened, production eases off, and workers are put on short-time or sacked. Of course, you may rest assured that no capitalist politician is ever going to make this plain to you.’