MONTHLY figures released yesterday reported that inflation in Britain had fallen from 2.8% in July to 2.7% in August, leading some bourgeois economists to claim that the ‘recovery’ of British capitalism is well under way.
These statistics, which are used to bombard the working class in order to prove that capitalism can be made to work, fall apart under examination.
As every worker and their families know painfully well, there is only one direction in which the price of essentials, like food, housing and travel, is heading and that is skywards.
When economists talk of a decline in the rate of inflation from 2.8% to 2.7% in one month, what they are referring to is not that prices have actually fallen but that they have increased at a smaller amount than the same period as last year.
The fall of 0.1% is accounted for by the fact that the price of petrol, clothing and airplane travel rose less than in August 2012.
These inflation figures anyway only relate to the government’s preferred yardstick for measuring inflation – the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as opposed to the other index of inflation, the Retail Price Index (RPI).
Both use the method of taking a ‘basketful of goods’ and comparing the cost of the same goods month-on-month.
CPI leaves out of the basket housing costs, mortgage repayments, rent increases and council tax – which eat up the great majority of workers’ incomes.
When the RPI (which does include these items) is considered, the picture of inflation is completely different – RPI actually increased to 3.3% in August from 3.1% in July.
Plane tickets may not have increased at a rate more than last year but the cost of essentials, like food and shelter, went up at an even higher rate.
All these statistics are anyway totally meaningless when set against the grim reality faced day in and day out by workers and their families of soaring costs in everything from rail fares, rents and food at the same time that wages have been held down for years through the government’s 1% wage freeze, and benefit cuts that have driven millions to rely on food banks just to survive.
Commentating on these figures the leader of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, said: ‘By whatever measure you use, inflation is at least 2.5 times greater than wage “increases” which are currently running at an average of 1.1% a year.’
McCluskey went on: ‘Recent research we carried out showed that the amount of money that hard pressed Unite members have to borrow each month to make ends meet has tripled since 2012 to £660.’
He added that this was ‘the longest squeeze on wages since the 1870s’.
McCluskey’s hand wringing over the plight of workers avoids the fact that he and the rest of the trade union leadership have sat back and done absolutely nothing to fight the wage cutting carried out by the government in the name of saving the banks.
They have steadfastly refused to mobilise the strength of the trade union movement to bring down the government and put a halt to the drive to force workers into the gutter of abject poverty.
Under pressure from the working class the leadership of the TUC have been forced to consider calling a one-day general strike in protest against this war on workers.
The time for protest is long over. What is needed is not just a one-day protest but an all-out general strike that has as its aim bringing down this hated government and replacing it with a workers government that will advance to socialism.
If McCluskey and the rest of the TUC are not prepared to lead this fight then they must be removed and replaced with a new revolutionary leadership.
Only the WRP is building this leadership, join us today.