Voice From the Back
The Day To Day Struggle
Politicians are always claiming that because of their endeavours we are all better off financially than we have ever been, but the facts disprove this fantasy. ‘More than half of UK adults are struggling to keep up with bills and debt repayments, a major survey of people’s finances has suggested. Some 52% of the 5,000 people questioned said they were struggling, compared with just 35% in a similar study in 2006, the Money Advice Service said. In Northern Ireland, some 66% said they were struggling’ (BBC News, 2 August).
No Old Bangers Here
The present economic crisis in the UK has been so severe that many workers face unemployment, wage freezes and in some severe cases repossession of their houses. No such problems exist for the owning class. ‘Wealthy Britons have spent £91 million buying new Ferraris this year, making Great Britain the biggest European market for the Italian car company. According to Ferrari’s global sales figures for the first six months, 415 models have been sold in the UK, an increase of 6 percent, with the average purchase price standing at £220,000’ (Times, 2 August).
If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It
At a time when many workers are desperately trying to get together enough money for the deposit on a house the owning class are continuing in their usual spendthrift fashion. ‘Britain’s most expensive parking place has gone on the market for £300,000, almost twice the price of the average home. The open-air spot is 11ft by 21ft and is in Hyde Park Gardens, London, where many houses cost millions of pounds’ (Times, 8 August). If you think that was unusually expensive the same report mentions an underground parking space near Harrods that was priced at £200,000 in 2011.
Politics And Poverty
Despite the Coalition government’s claim to be a family-orientated organisation families are suffering at their hands. Food banks across Britain are being inundated with requests for emergency meals as families struggle to feed their children through the school holidays. The Trussell Trust, which runs the country’s largest network of food banks, says this is the busiest summer it has ever experienced, with some of its branches seeing double the number of requests for emergency parcels since the start of the holidays. ‘Parents whose children ordinarily receive free school lunches are among those struggling the most, as they now have to find an extra meal every day. The trust says the situation is worse than last summer because of rising food prices – which despite falling slightly in the latest Government figures are more than 4 per cent higher than last year – and the impact of the Coalition’s welfare changes that were launched in April’ (Independent, 9 August).
Morality And Money
The British government likes to portray itself as an organisation of the highest moral principles and absolutely opposed to brutality. Except of course when it threatens their master’s profits. ‘Britain is in talks to sell 12 Typhoon fighter jets to Bahrain, despite the Gulf state’s controversial human rights record. The proposed deal with the Gulf monarchy rocked by protests in 2011 is thought to be worth more than £1 billion and is part of a concerted effort by Gulf countries to strengthen military ties with Britain. ……….. Amnesty International claimed the arms negotiations showed human rights worries were once again playing second fiddle to British business deals’ (Daily Telegraph, 10 August). The deal was one of the main agenda items in a recent Downing Street meeting between David Cameron and King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa. Bahrain’s government faced condemnation and accusations of brutality for its repression of protests led by the island’s Shia majority in early 2011.
The ideas of nationalism are repugnant to socialists. Which country you are born in is an accident, in fact your birth itself was probably an accident. Despite this many workers sing national anthems, wave flags and identify themselves with ‘their country’. Britain like every other country is owned by a tiny handful of the population and recent figures have shown the British working class are becoming even poorer. ‘British workers have suffered one of the biggest falls in real wages among European countries over the past three years, with only crisis-hit Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands doing worse. New figures collated by the House of Commons Library show a 5.5 per cent drop in wages after inflation since 2010’ (Independent, 11 August).