IN THE wake of Tory Chancellor Hammond’s budget – a budget in which he declared war on the working class, war on pensioners, war on the NHS and war on students and youth – the working class was hit again, just a day later, with another bombshell.
After analysing the earnings and economic growth forecast, the Institute for Fiscal Studies made the following declaration: Wages will not grow for another 20 years! As far as workers are concerned, this is the final straw. To be told that the abject poverty working families are now facing is not temporary but permanent is the sort of statement which ignites revolution.
The Resolution Foundation, in their budget analysis ‘Freshly Squeezed’, said that ‘families are now projected to be in the early stages of the longest period of continuous falls in disposable incomes in over 60 years – longer even than that following the financial crisis.’
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the IFS analysis ‘exposed the appalling failure of seven years of this government’s austerity economics and its grim consequences for working people’.
The consequences for working people have been grim indeed, with reports of nurses and teachers so badly paid that they are forced to visit foodbanks to survive. When Universal Credit is rolled-out nationwide, it will result in mass evictions and entire families will be dumped out onto the streets.
There has been a steep rise in people being admitted to hospital with malnutrition and a resurgence of Victorian childhood diseases like rickets and scurvy. These are diseases that children suffer because of a lack of calcium and vitamins in their diets. Diseases previously eradicated, spread through poverty and overcrowded slum conditions, like tuberculosis are on the rise. Capitalism is driving society backwards!
The reality of ‘modern’ Tory Britain is a country where the worst elements of Victorian times are raising their ugly heads again: child poverty, slave labour and disease. In 1844 Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx’s revolutionary comrade, wrote about the slum conditions in England in his book ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844’. Then in 1903, Jack London wrote ‘The People of the Abyss’ about life in the East End of London in 1902. He wrote his first-hand account of living in the East End (including Whitechapel and Bethnal Green) for several months, sometimes staying in workhouses or sleeping on the streets.
The conditions he experienced and wrote about are the same as those endured by hundreds of thousands of working families in ‘modern’ Britain today. And it is the Victorian mentality of ‘the deserving poor, and the undeserving poor’ which the Tories enforce with a vengeance.
With Universal Credit, you do not get a penny for five weeks. In other words, starve the poor into accepting a job, any job, no matter how few hours, or how badly paid. This is why the Tories say that unemployment will become a thing of the past. They champion the ‘Gig Economy’ where the servant/master relationship of feudal times is re-enacted with the poor doing the bidding of the rich, picking up their dirty laundry, walking their dogs, looking after their children. Paid job by job, hour by hour, with no wage, no rights and no future.
However, the Tories are trying to foist this modern day version of the Victorian workhouse on a working class which is undefeated, which rose up and fought and won the NHS, council housing, the welfare state, pensions, sick pay, holiday pay and basic rights.
All that was won by the working class over the last two hundred years can now only be defended by a socialist revolution to bring this government down and the capitalist ruling class with it. This is why the issue of the day is building a revolutionary leadership in the struggle for a general strike to bring the government down, overthrow the ruling class and organise the taking of power by the working class.
It is capitalism that is driving society backwards. Only a workers government carrying out socialist policies, nationalising the land, industries, the banks and all services, and bringing in a planned socialist economy, can take society forward and put an end to capitalist barbarism.