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JOHN McDONNELL notes that rising inflation will be “disastrous” for ordinary families.
The typical worker takes home around £800 a year less than they did before the bankers’ crash of 2007-8, an indictment of years of Tory economic mismanagement under the misnomer of “austerity.”
Austerity means cuts — cuts to public services, cuts to council budgets meaning cuts to local services, cuts to pay as public servants are outsourced to disreputable privateers intent on cutting costs, cuts to social security payments such as disability and sickness benefits, cuts to pensions.
But former chancellor George Osborne’s claim that austerity meant “we’re all in it together” was a lie.
Throughout the long years of cuts the fortunes of the richest swelled and swelled.
“Fortunes of the super-rich soar,” cried the Telegraph on the publication of 2011’s Sunday Times Rich List.
“Wealth of richest grows to record levels,” it observed a year later. In 2013 newspapers reported that “Britain’s richest keep getting richer.” By 2014 their wealth was “soaring” again as journalists ran low on new ways of telling the same old story.
The pattern continues.
Back in March the Tories tried to claim credit for pay having grown slightly faster than inflation in the first time for more than a year, with Chancellor Philip Hammond bragging about a “turning point” and people “starting to feel the benefit of more money in their pockets.”
Those who actually have more money in their pockets — the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development finds that FTSE 100 company CEO pay has risen by 11 per cent in the last year — are already loaded with the stuff.
It suited business and the government in the 1970s to blame unions for inflation, saying their wage claims forced up prices.
The Morning Star pointed out then that incomes policies capping wage growth but refusing to touch income from rent or profit would merely immiserate working people while inflation continued.
Now, as then, unions need to fight to ensure working people get a fairer share of the wealth we create by forcing companies to pay more.
The rising cost of living set against the staggering wealth of the lucky few “gives rise to widespread public anger about the fairness of our society,” the McDonnell says.
That anger spurred the revolt against the Establishment that saw Jeremy Corbyn, who alone among British politicians credibly offers an alternative future, win the Labour leadership, swell the party’s ranks to the point where it is the largest political organisation in western Europe and lead it to its biggest vote increase at a general election in seven decades last year.
Corbyn’s appeal is rooted in widespread awareness that British society is grossly and unnecessarily unjust.
His parliamentary critics, comfortable with the status quo, have proved incapable of grasping that fact and so continue to try to sabotage his leadership with confected scandals.
It isn’t working, as we saw at the weekend when 18,000 people at the Boardmasters festival in Cornwall spontaneously burst into the “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” chant or when the Labour leader’s visit to Stoke on a Tuesday afternoon attracted a crush of over 600 to hear him speak.
Polls go up and down — Britain Elects found a slight Labour lead over the Tories on August 14, YouGov a slight Tory lead over Labour a couple of days earlier.
But the hysteria of a mainstream press out to demonise Corbyn should not trick the labour movement into assuming the concerns of the Daily Mail are those of the average worker. The evidence is against that.
Malicious slurs must be refuted and real concerns investigated, but our movement should not let itself be distracted.
Working people cannot afford more years of “austerity.” It’s time for an industrial and political offensive for decent pay, public ownership and a Corbyn-led Labour government.
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