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Bruce Hornsby and the Range. “The Way It Is”, A Song For Our Times?

Bruce Hornsby’s aching lament for 1980’s America with it’s lilting piano and vocals came through my iPod headphones. I haven’t heard it for years but the echoes of that depressing era are real and present for us here in the UK as 2013 sees the working class under the hammer of capitalism like never before….

Standing in line marking time—
Waiting for the welfare dime
‘Cause they can’t buy a job

In June 2011 as the economy continued to lurch into intensive care, unemployment rose by an eye watering 114,000 to reach 2.65 million. Just the way the Tories like it. A low wage/ high profit economy is rooted in their DNA and the use of the dole queue to achieve it was the plan of the 1980’s breed of Tory. Thatcher’s view was actually the unemployment was, “a price worth paying” to re align the economy in favour of the rich. Chilling stuff.

The man in the silk suit hurries by
As he catches the poor old ladies’ eyes
Just for fun he says “Get a job”

Norman Tebbit’s infamous 1981 speech where he exhorted the unemployed to “get on your bike”, made public the contempt that the Tories have for the rest of us, and especially those who are forced onto benefits through no fault of their own. Bless ‘em they do try to hide it but every now and again they can’t help themselves. Tory MP Phillip Davies came out with this corker in the summer. “Disabled people should take jobs below the minimum wage to give themselves a chance”.

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is

There is a real anger out there in Society at the arrogance of the Bankers, the hubris of companies such a Vodaphone who got away with £6 billion in unpaid tax, and the scandal of public sector pensions which smash the aspirations of women in particular. We have noticed a sea change on the streets and through our post bag in the Labour Party, and it’s not from just our so called “core vote”, it’s coming from all sections of Society. A pensioner who lives in Kirk Ella showed us his utility bill, which had risen by 34.5%. A Tory voter who revealed he could afford it, said he would never vote for them again, “if they are prepared to let that happen”, to his contemporaries who “most certainly can’t afford it”.

For too long we in the Labour Party have preached pragmatism, with the feeling that there is nothing we can do about really correcting gross and obscene inequality. “Big business won’t like it”. “What about the right wing press?” And the most stupid excuse, “the rich will just hide their money”. Guess what? We tried the free market, naked capitalist way where we were, “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”, (Peter Mandleson) and it doesn’t work! Our wrecked Banks and an economy in intensive care are living proof.

They say hey little boy you can’t go
Where the others go

£9,000 a year tuition fees, the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the ending of Labour’s Future Jobs Fund allied to soaring living costs, flat lined wages and a trashed public sector pensions system means a crunching into reverse gear of social mobility and the only real opportunities will be reserved for kids with wealthy parents. Ones whose degree courses will be parentally backed, and kids who can work for free to get their foot in the door of the professions will trample (through no fault of their own) on their peers to grab those vital openings and breaks everyone needs to enhance their life chances.

We don’t need Plan A, Plan B or even Plan C. We just need Plan S, Plan Socialism!


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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