On Monday the LibDem leader, Nick Clegg, added his views to the emerging consensus between Labour and the Tories that the problem with British capitalism is not the banks but ‘crony capitalism’.
In a speech last week Cameron unveiled his plans for a ‘fairness agenda’ designed to convince people that he has ‘a vision of a fairer, better economy, where if you work hard and do the right thing you get rewarded.’
Promising a crackdown on ‘fat cat bosses filling their boots’ the Tory leader promised new laws to give shareholders the right to block the soaring pay of company executives.
The thought that shareholders will have either the ability or inclination to vote in huge numbers to curb the massive sums paid out to executives in the form of basic salary, bonuses, share incentives and pension contributions, had them rolling in the aisles in the City of London.
Now Clegg has weighed in with the proposal that the entire British capitalist economy be remodelled along the lines of the retailer, John Lewis.
Harking back to the theories propounded by the Liberal philosopher, John Stuart Mill, back in the 19th century, Clegg is calling for workers to be given the right to ask for shares in their company.
As is well known, John Lewis is a medium-sized retail company whose founder 80 years ago benevolently passed ownership to its employees through a share owning scheme.
The brutal fact of life, however, is that even an employer as ‘benevolent’ as John Lewis operates within a bankrupt capitalist system and that with high street retailers going bust at a spectacular rate it will not be immune from the inevitable crash.
Share ownership by the employees will count for nothing when stores close, and they will have no say whatsoever in the matter.
Clegg knows this full well, the real intention of his populist appeal for a more caring capitalism was revealed in his speech when he said: ‘John Stuart Mill hoped that employee-owned firms could end what he called the “standing feud between capital and labour”.’
Mill believed the class struggle could be abolished in this way and Clegg is desperately hoping that he can convince the working class that this is possible.
As far as the Labour Party leadership are concerned, this phony ‘war on cronyism’ is an example of Cameron stealing their ideas.
Miliband responded to Cameron by claiming that a Labour government would deliver ‘fairness’ while insisting that it would be at no extra cost to capitalism.
All the froth and bubbles being pumped out by Labour and the coalition government about a ‘fairer’ capitalism and war against the ‘fat cats’ has been avidly lapped up by the bourgeois press and media but it cuts no ice with workers, who face another two years of pay cuts in the public sector, the collapse of industry and business in the private sector, and an unrelenting attack on pensions and the Welfare State.
They are acutely aware that Thatcher instituted a positive orgy of share distribution during her privatisation campaign under the slogan of a ‘share owning democracy’ where everyone could be a capitalist.
That the government is forced to fall back on it is a mark of their desperation as they confront a working class that is being revolutionised by this crisis.
As the bankrupt capitalist system seeks to save itself through the pauperisation of the working class, the only way out is through bringing down this rotten coalition and replacing it, not with the traitors of the Labour Party, but with a workers government that will advance to socialism and the expropriation of the banks and industry and the placing of them under real workers control.