Blair and Brown's "booming" inequality gap

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
20 February 2007

This week British banks posted record profits. Last week Unicef reported that 16.2% of British children live below the poverty line.

These facts are connected. Because Unicef's figures for the those under the poverty line are measured by the number of children in homes where earnings are under the median income. And for Britain, this median is higher because of the exorbitant incomes of the "super-rich". Moreover, since British bosses get away with paying the lowest wages, so that there are millions of workers in temporary and casual jobs, paid on the minimum or even less, a much greater number of families will also fall below the median income.

In other words. what Unicef's report really reflects is the huge (and growing) inequality gap between rich and poor in Britain.

In fact this is why Britain and the USA are both at the bottom of the league for the well-being of children. And of course, if that many kids are living in poverty here, there are at least as many, if not more, adults in poverty too, especially if you take into account the over one million elderly poor.

Blair and Brown have done everything they could to keep wages down for the bosses. From setting a 3-tier, totally inadequate minimum wage, from subsiding low pay through tax credits (a subsidy to Scrooge bosses), to contracting out every bit of central and local government and the NHS which they could - where casualisation and poverty pay prevails, with their blessing

New, super profitable companies have sprung up which are totally parasitic on public funds, supposedly providing services for the population, but allowed to charge for care which used to be free, like home helps, care for the elderly, etc., etc. The unemployed and disabled are coerced into low-paid jobs by private agencies under "government contract". The scandal of PPP and PFI continues, so that many hospitals and local councils are firing workers and cutting services due to budget deficits. Social housing is placed in private hands, as the number of affordable homes reaches an all-time low.

Yet did Blair and Brown not boast that they would be taking one million children out of poverty in 10 years and that their policies would have "conquered poverty" completely within 20 years? They have missed all of their targets. Which does not stop them from crowing on about Britain's "booming economy"! Yes, it is booming like never before for the rich. And it is driving more and more of the working class into poverty, while the so-called "welfare state" is rolled back more and more!

But why should anyone be surprised? When you turn the state into a milchcow for the rich, how can it be otherwise?