Thursday, 18 April 2013

Thatcher is gone...but Thatcherism remains

The power and control of the British establishment was there for everyone to see last Wednesday (April 17), as the state went into overdrove for the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

The woman who destroyed thousands of lives and turned entire communities into wastelands of poverty and deprivation was afforded a send-off befitting a national hero.  It was entirely inappropriate and completely over the top, not to mention obscenely expensive, costing the public purse around £10m.

What we saw last Wednesday was nothing more than propaganda for a British state to which very few of us has any real connection.  The pomp and pageantry, the military personnel in dress uniforms, the silencing of Big Ben, the reverential coverage across the media – all to illustrate how the establishment can put on a show for one of its own.

The closest broadcasters came to recognising the real Thatcher and her toxic legacy were references to her having been, and remaining in death, a “divisive” figure, which represents a classic piece of understatement.

Thatcher is gone...but Thatcherism lives on.  The ideology of naked greed and class warfare remains the cornerstone of today’s Tory-Lib Dem government policies, as it was under the New Labour administrations of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.  It’s said that Thatcher considered her greatest achievement was the creation of New Labour, a political party that abandoned every principle ever held dear by an organisation that had originally been created to give a parliamentary voice to the working class.  In that assertion, she was probably correct.

Today, the Labour Party shares the beliefs on which Thatcher built her ‘greed is good’ philosophy.  Her Tory Government smashed working class representation and strength by introducing some of the most draconian anti-trade union laws anywhere in the free world, and New Labour retained them. 

Today’s Labour Party is now as much a pro-capitalist organisation as the Tories, fully embracing the free-market economy that virtually bankrupted the country in 2008.  The party led by Ed Miliband backs Tory-Lib Dem policies to slash benefits paid to the most vulnerable people in society and has refused to commit itself to repealing the grossly unfair Bedroom Tax.

Tory, Lib Dem and Labour all now stand on the side of the bosses against the workers, while vilifying the ‘undeserving scroungers and skivers’ on the dole.

The Labour Party also now supports a new generation of nuclear missiles of mass destruction, at a total cost estimated in the region of £120bn.

Margaret Thatcher was very proud of what the Labour Party had become.

The Thatcherite agenda drove-down wages and conditions for workers, while slashing the rate of tax paid by the richest people in the country and removing regulations that had restrained boardroom greed.  The current Tory-Lib Dem UK Government, and the loyal Labour opposition, fully embraces the same philosophy.

Since Thatcher, through Blair, Brown and now Cameron the rich have got richer while the poor have got poorer, resulting in Britain having one of the most unequal societies in the world.

In the same week of Thatcher’s hugely expensive and inappropriate ‘state’ funeral, an increase to the national minimum wage was announced.  Workers over the age of 21 will receive an extra 12p an hour.  Let’s hope there is no massed stampede to spend the new largesse in the same shop.

From October, with the extra 12p, workers will be paid a minimum wage of £6.31 an hour.  Those aged between 18 and 21 will see their rate increase by 5p an hour, to £5.03. Workers aged 16 and 17 are to get an additional 4p an hour, taking their rate to £3.72.  The increase for Modern Apprentices is 3p, meaning they can legally be paid just £2.68 an hour.

As all of the increases listed above are below the rate of inflation, they actually represent pay-cuts for the poorest workers in the country.  Despite this, representatives of Britain’s bosses queued up to condemn them as unaffordable.

Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said, “The increase in the national minimum wage is unwelcome in today’s economic climate.  There will be businesses that operate on thin margins, who will struggle with any increase to the minimum wage.”

The British Chambers of Commerce’s Director of Policy, Adam Marshall, added, “While the pressures of inflation are affecting many people, including the lowest-paid, the scale of this rise adds significantly to business costs, most of all by contributing to broader pay inflation. It will also make some employers less inclined to hire additional members of staff.”

Meanwhile, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said any rise to the minimum wage was “illogical”.

Contrast the real-terms pay-cut for the poorest workers with the rewards received by those who say even an extra 12p an hour is unaffordable.  In 2011 the pay for the directors of the UK's top businesses rose by 50%, taking the average pay for a director of a FTSE 100 company to just short of £2.7m.

In 2012 the total median earnings of 100 chief executives worked out at £3.2m, while the average was £4m.

This is the situation Thatcher created and which remains in place today. 

No-one who destroyed so many lives and who created such an unfair and unequal society should have been afforded the praise, reverence, hero-worship and lavish publicly-funded funeral she received.

Thatcher is gone....but Thatcherism remains and the fight against the evil ideology continues. 

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