IN the last 12 months the working class and the vast majority of the middle class have desperately struggled under a huge and growing dead weight of petrol, gas, electricity, transport, Council Tax, mortgage interest rate, and banking and tuition fee price rises.
The millions of people who make up the ranks of the working poor, working class and middle class, are positioned just above the destitute at the bottom of British capitalist society, but more and more find themselves under the threat of being thrust into the abyss of the growing army of the unemployed and those that capitalism has made unemployable.
The vast mass of workers and the middle class at the centre of society are up to their necks in over £1.4 trillion of household debt, and with no prospect of working their way out of the hole that has been dug for them by the crisis of capitalism.
With even the government’s rigged rate of inflation at 4.8 per cent, these millions have been told that they are to pay the price for the crisis. They are to have their wages frozen and cut by either no wage rises or below inflation wage rises.
Meanwhile, the cost of living escalates.
However, on the same island there loiters a class of plutocrats who saw their amazing wealth increase by 20 per cent in the same 12 months. These are the special friends of the Blair-Brown government.
Their combined wealth amounts to £360 billion. Among their ranks are 68 billionaires, three times as many as there were in the year 2003.
Under Brown and Blair’s Labour they have never had it so good.
The top three are made up by an Indian steel baron, a Russian oligarch, and a surviving relic of the feudal aristocracy.
Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal is Britain’s richest person with £19.8bn. Roman Abramovich who helped pillage the Russian nationalised economy in 1993 aided by Boris Yeltsin was ranked second with £10.8 billion and the Duke of Westminster was ranked third, with £7 billion.
The Duke is the only one in the list’s top five born in the UK.
Brown and Blair, both fervent advocates of capitalist globalisation so lightly tax the rich that billionaires and millionaires are flocking to Britain, as the new paradise of the rich – at the same time as the working class and the middle class are being pounded by inflationary price rises and taxed into oblivion.
The Sunday Times says that so helpful to the rich is Brown’s light touch taxation that the richest have seen their fortunes grow much faster than their equivalents in Europe and worldwide.
The 20 per cent rise in the wealth of the UK’s rich compares to 14.8 per cent rise in the wealth of Europe’s top 50 and an 8.3 per cent increase in wealth of the world’s richest people over the past 12 months.
There are now 68 billionaires, born, living or making their money in the UK, 14 more than in 2006 and treble the number four years ago.
Meanwhile, the numbers of the super-rich attracted into the UK by Brown’s light-touch tax regulation are growing. As well as from Russia and India, the wealthy from Scandinavia and France are also looking to base themselves in the UK.
The banks fawn on them while they continue to cane the middle class and the working class, as the capitalist crisis deepens.
In this situation it is not just the vast majority of the working class that is losing any confidence that it had in the capitalist system as the growing strike movement in the public sector makes clear – the very hard pressed middle class is losing its confidence in the capitalist order as well, and at a rapid rate.
In his book Left Wing Communism, Lenin makes a revealing remark about the unique relation of class forces in Britain.
He quotes a speech by Lloyd George approvingly.
The Liberal leader says: ‘Four fifths of this country is industrial and commercial; hardly one fifth is agricultural, it is one of the things I have constantly in mind when I think of the dangers of the future here. . . This country is more top heavy than any country in the world, and if it begins to rock, the crash here will be greater than in any land’.
It has begun to rock here. The further collapse of the US economy will bring on a big fall of house prices and an inflationary leap that will see the working class and middle class in this ‘top heavy’ country crash to the left against capitalism, isolating the ruling class and its state apparatus.
The revolutionary party must urgently prepare for this crash when it will be called upon to lead a socialist revolution.