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by Rory MacKinnon
TRADE unionists, Labour MPs and social justice campaigners voiced renewed anger at Con-Dem coddling of billionaires yesterday following the Sunday Times’s release of the annual Rich List — a fawning who’s who of the wealthiest people in Britain.
The list’s author Philip Beresford declared a “phenomenal” year for the plutocrats’ personal wealth in 2013, with their combined fortunes soaring by 15.4 per cent since the Times’s last edition.
Its 1,000 entrants now cling to a total of £519 billion between them: up £69bn on the year before and more than double the amount held when the financial crisis struck in 2009.
Yet for ordinary households 2013 spelled more of the same, with inflation continuing to crush any hopes of a broader economic recovery.
Figures released just this week from the Office of National Statistics show the average worker in 2013 saw their income dwindle still further in real terms. Average weekly earnings including bonuses rose by just 1.7 per cent, not even enough to cover the inflation rate of 2.5 per cent.
Oxfam’s Rachael Orr said it was time for politicians to “grasp the nettle.” She said the rich had to be made to pay their taxes with a crackdown on legislative loopholes.
“It cannot be right that in Britain today a small elite are getting richer and richer while hundreds of thousands rely on foodbanks to feed their families,” she said.
Labour’s shadow treasury secretary Chris Leslie said it was “no wonder” the super-rich had seen a bumper year in light of Tory tax cuts.
“Labour is determined to ensure all working people feel the benefits of economic growth, not just a few at the top,” he said.
Meanwhile trade unionists were scathing, with rail union RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash railing against an “unprecedented” wealth gap.
“Britain is on the fast track to a total breakdown in social cohesion with millionaires piling up the cash while millions of working-class people are condemned to lives of insecurity and poverty,” he said.
It was now down to trade unions to channel public anger into action, he said.
Wirral Trades Union Council’s general secretary Alec McFadden told the Morning Star that the Rich List’s celebrity spivs had made their fortunes on the backs of those now sobbing in his local unemployed workers’ centre.
“Our case workers here, we’ve had to put them on suicide awareness courses for the first time ever because so many people are contemplating it,” he said.
Austerity rhetoric was an “excuse” for destroying the public sector and social services, he said: “If it was a financial crisis, how come people are making so much money out of it?”
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