1970s >> 1979 >> no-896-april-1979

“There’s no more in the Kitty” (James Callaghan)

So ran the boring refrain of Prime Minister Callaghan’s speeches about this year’s wave of strikes. Apart from the obvious inconsistency (he said there was ‘‘no more money for wage increases of 5 per cent then 8.8 per cent, now 10 per cent” is it true that ‘‘the country” is going broke; that there is “no money” to pay people a living wage?

 

First, one point must be made clear. The “public” does not pay anybody’s wages. The “public” is mainly the working class, 95 per cent of the population who do not pay wages. They work for wages themselves, and have nothing to pay anybody else with. Ninety nine per cent of all industrial Company shares are held by wealthy investors, 1 per cent of the population, who are the real wage-payers.

 

Is it true that this small handful of the population, the owners of wealth, are going broke or doing badly? On the contrary, they never did better.

 

The country’s top economic researchers all agree that the greatest single concentration of wealth in the world, including the United States, is right here, in Great Britain,

 

  The fortunes of the Rockefellers, the DuPonts, the Mellons, and Howard Hughes, are no match for the steady accumulation of the wealth of centuries by the wealthy families of Britain. The Economics of Inequality (A. B. Atkinson).

 

On Sunday morning. February 11, the Chairman of the Stock Exchange informed the LBC reporter that about £700 million change hands a day there. Seeing that 99 workers out of a hundred have never even seen a Company share, let alone owned one. it is obvious that this is the capitalist class (or the stockbrokers they employ) shuffling the pack for a bit more lolly.

 

Estimates of the total wealth of the capitalist class are only guesstimates because reliable information is extremely hard to come by.

 

Most investigators A. B. Atkinson (Sussex) R. Miliband (Leeds) John Westergaard (London) Jack Kencaid (Leeds) are agreed that it is practically impossible to get at the truth. Richard Titmuss (London School of Economics) has produced a book, Income Distribution and Social Change, proving that much of the Government’s “statistics” mainly based on Income Tax returns, are largely rubbish.

 

The reason for this, as Professor Colin Harbury (The Economics of Inheritance) has reported; it is impossible to catch up with the tricks and fiddles of the slick accountants to under-estimate their clients’ real wealth.

 

We know that less than ten thousand people own £868 million of Company shares, but the value of land, property, rare wines, Old Masters, furniture, jewellery, yachts, buildings, vintage cars are anybody’s guess, and the economists argue about whether such assets should be assessed at “saleable” or “investment” values.

 

Wealthy people regularly evade tax by “gifts” and presentations, Trust Funds and Foundations like Nuffield Foundation and Ford Foundation. Also by “Generation Skipping” — bequeathing shares and investments to grandchildren seven years before decease, which is tax exempt.

 

Various attempts have been made to “guesstimate” the real wealth of the British capitalist class; one is £92 billion—£92,000,000,000—£92 thousand million (A. B. Atkinson) but however near the truth this may be, we can establish what some capitalists own, and how much they spend—on nonsense.

 

Harry Hyams (Property) £27 millions, John Sainsbury (Retail Trade) £30 millions, Sir John Ellerman (Ships) £150 millions.

 

Professor Atkinson has pointed out that Ellerman’s pittance would pay British Rail’s total wage bill for four months.
Henry Ford is being sued by his fellow-directors for £25 millions misappropriated.

 

Eric Miller, before committing suicide, had spent over £3,000 on champagne for Harold Wilson and £2,000,000 on a private plane.

 

Olga Deterding, the Shell Oil millionairess, left £47 millions.

 

The reason Callaghan refuses to pay hospital porters and cleaners more than £42 a week is to maintain these blood-suckers in ridiculous luxury.

 

The P. & O. Line reports their £58,000 world cruises are overbooked. When Claridges hotel kitchen staff were on strike the manageress was asked “whether the lunch service was impeded”. “Oh No! she replied, we are full every day.” The “lunch is £33-00, without wine or service

 

Estate agents in Hampstead report a shortage of “desirable properties of £1 million or over. One changed hands recently for £8½ million.

 

Each week the News of the World reports the Wills of the Week—the money they left. Here is one week in February:

 

Mr. A. Wallace … £1.641.169
Mr. A. Wood       £ 514.263
Mr. M. Greg       £ 514,263

 

Not very big capitalists these—small fry, compared to the Duke of Westminster’s one and a quarter million a year in rent.

 

Finally, one has only to watch the displays of vulgar opulence on TV like Callaghan at the Lord Mayor’s banquet at the City Guildhall, where more food is thrown into the pig-bin than would meet the City dustmen’s modest demands.

 

Callaghan, with his £23,000 a year, has the impudence to tell Trade Unionists that “there is no more money available”.

 

The Trade Unions should now see the folly of pouring money into Labour Party funds, to support a Labour Government intent on breaking their strikes.

 

There’s money in the kitty all right;—as Karl Marx pointed out years ago, “it’s not the smallness of the bowl but the workers’ spoons” which prevent them gaining a decent livelihood.

 

Horatio