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We Must Learn the Lessons of Our History

images“The business of petty inconvenience and indignity,being kept waiting about, of having to do everything at other people convenience, is inherent in working class life”

“The central fact about housing is simply that there are not enough houses to go round”.

“There are a great number of people who are in work, but who, from a financial point of view may equally well be unemployed because they are not drawing what anyone can describe as a Living Wage”

The Government is refusing, in the face of every scrap of evidence to run a deficit budget to stimulate a moribund and flat lining economy. The right wing of the Labour Party have accepted lock, stock and two smoking barrels the concept of austerity as being the only means of progress and is as relevant to the needs of the working class as back street money lenders.

The UK 2013? Yes, absolutely. All these factors are at play.
But the quotes that start this piece were written by Eric Blair, better known as the greatest English writer of the 20th century George Orwell. The Old Etonian had been commissioned to write an audit of the working classes for the New Statesman (when it had teeth and wasn’t the mouthpiece of the wet, middle class so called liberal left) and “The Road to Wigan Pier” was published in 1936.

The only difference between now and the above is that a section of the Labour Party, led by James Ramsay MacDonald had actually gone, mad as it seems, into coalition with the Tories. They were kicked out of the Party leaving Labour bitter and divided as the so called National Government, formed after the 1931 election held a huge majority with Labour, Liberals and Tories sitting in Cabinet.

These days the Labour leadership across the UK have accepted the lie of the deficit and refuse to countenance an alternative to austerity. This was the basic and disastrous error made by Labour Chancellor Philip Snowden in the wake of the 1929 Wall Street Crash. He refused to invest and run a short term deficit budget to protect UK exports such as coal and steel. Exports fell by a massive 50% in two years up until 1931. Unemployment soared to three million and instead of help, Snowden listened to the Civil Service rather than to his conscience, or the evidence and CUT benefits by 10%. This meant that Local Authorities (who were responsible for benefits) were unable to manage. Thus central Government took over and introduced the hated humiliation of the Public Assistance Committees (PAC) which subjected millions of working class people to having their whole lives put under the micro scope.

The Means Test was a hideous process and is reflected in the modern era by the evils of ATOS and other outsourced companies deliberately intimidating working class people. The more vulnerable they are, the more these companies seem to like it.

Glasgow’s ATOS Office, along with many nationwide, is known as “Lourdes”. The simple fact is that chronically ill people on the verge of death come out off benefits and are declared, “Fit For Work”. Result! Everyone’s a winner. Of course the only winner is ATOS who scrape every penny from the public purse as a reward for kicking people off benefits, into the arms of Wonga, and eventually to driving them to take their own lives. ATOS and their henchmen were introduced to the Welfare system by….. (cue drum roll) Yvette Cooper!

Labour are tanking in the polls. New Labour has nothing to offer the UK public and is paying the price.

Ed Miliband was elected by us, the members to promise and deliver a Living Wage, promote the Trade Union link and stimulate the economy by reform of the tax system. I know this because I heard him say these things at a UNITE hustings event in Leeds, at a meeting in Scunthorpe in August 2010, and in Hull (December 2011) he told us that Cameron had, “declared class war, and we must fight back”. It’s there in black (well blue actually) in my nerdy notebook in which I record meetings.

Early 20th Century philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”, and this is the cycle we are currently locked in to.

There is an answer. It’s called Socialism. It involves transferring taxing of income to taxing of £800 billion in assets as proposed by the renown lefty nut-case Prof. Danny Blanchflower, formerly a member of Mervyn King’s Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee. With said revenue you abolish VAT, lift millions out of income tax, build two million houses, create millions of well paid jobs and give hope to everyone, especially our young people.
The right always accuse us on the Left as being impractical, or lacking in pragmatism. What’s practical about wrecking the economy, choking demand and forcing Humberside police to say about a spike in sex workers on the streets of Hull, “”these girls are desperate to feed and clothe their children and they are going out to do that”?


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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