Workers' anger has not been heard yet, but it soon will be!

7 March 2011

"The price of this financial crisis is being borne by people who absolutely did not cause it."

This is what most of us have been thinking ever since the crisis started to bite, more than three years ago. Except that, this time, these words came straight out of the mouth of a representative of big business - in fact, from no less than the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, during a Commons committee hearing, last week.

So, Britain's top financial regulator, the man who presided over the build-up of the massive financial bubble whose implosion caused the present crisis, is now shedding tears over the fate of the victims of his own financial bingo system? How far can hypocrisy go?

The fat cats get fatter than ever

The truth is that, while Mervyn King sheds tears over the fate of the working class majority, banks, bosses and shareholders are making a killing under his watch.

So, for instance, last month, Barclays had to admit that although its 2009 profits reached a record £11.6bn, it had only paid £113m in corporation tax - or less than 1%. Why? First, because a significant amount of profits are channelled through over 200 subsidiaries based in British-controlled tax havens, like Jersey and the Cayman Islands. And second, because, in addition to benefiting from the cash facilities provided by the Bank of England, the bank was allowed to deduct its previous year's losses from its corporation tax.

All of this is "legal", of course. It is even "regulated" by Mervyn King and his kind - high-flying government appointees whose role it is to help big business maximise profits, whatever the cost to the rest of us and to the economy as a whole.

But it is not this blatant profiteering that Mervyn King is complaining about. Nor is he really worried about the fate of working class families caught under the sledge-hammer of the crisis.

No, King's problem is simply the credibility of his bankrupt system. Especially when bankers keep arrogantly awarding themselves enormous salaries and bonuses (like Barclay's CEO, Bob Diamond with his £6.5m bonus), when they should have, at least, enough sense to keep a low profile while the screw is being turned on the working class!

But no, in this profit-driven world, the ruling fat cats are far too addicted to their profiteering to refrain from putting their parasitism on show!

Let March 26th be a beginning

Hence the veiled warning added by Mervyn King, in his testimony to the Commons committee: "Now is the period when the cost is being paid, I'm surprised that the degree of public anger has not been greater than it has."

In fact, many others must have been sharing the same surprise (and relief, actually!) over the past years - in particular the politicians of all stripe who organised and supported the financial bailout, the big shareholders who benefited from it, but also the bosses who used the crisis as a pretext to cut workers' jobs, wages and conditions.

Indeed, had "public anger" really expressed itself, especially the anger of the working class majority which is being made to pay for this bailout - not once but several times over - the bankers and their politicians would have been out of a job long ago, and the bosses would have been confronted with striking workers determined to regain the ground lost.

But this does not mean that it won't happen. The more the profiteers and their politicians push their luck with new attacks, the more jobs and benefits are being cut, the more wages and pensions are pushed downwards... the more they are piling up accounts that will have to be settled at some point.

If they are "surprised" today that our anger has not been heard, they will be even more "surprised" tomorrow - and worried - when it floods the streets.

For once, the national protest called by the TUC, on March 26th, in London, will give us an opportunity to make our voices heard. The more of us who decide to join this protest, the more our opposition to the bosses' attacks and politicians' austerity will ring loud and clear.

But once the TUC march gets the ball rolling, the real objective has to be that we get the capitalists to pay for their crisis, by making sure that the anger of the working class continues to be heard, after the evening of March 26th. Above all, this day will have to mark the return of the working class to the political scene and the beginning of the fight back that the profiteers are so worried about and which is so long overdue!