Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/300/13843
Wealth Gap Widens Under Blair:
Make The Rich Pay!
THERE IS now the biggest wealth gap between the filthy rich and the poorest in society for 13 years. What's more, poverty levels under Tony Blair are worse even than they were under arch-Tory Margaret Thatcher.
The differences in disposable post-tax income between the top and bottom of society have gone back to levels not seen since 1990. Inequality has got far sharper under New Labour, made worse by the fat cats' incomes which have been zooming ahead.
The solution seems obvious. Low-paid workers need a decent national minimum wage. Setting that minimum at £320 a week would at least start to bring working poverty down.
Benefits and public-sector pensions should also be increased to a decent level - in recent years they have been cut deeply and that process should be reversed.
The snag is that New Labour just loves the rich! It gets many donations from big business and every policy is aimed at pleasing the super-rich, not the low-paid.
Since New Labour came to office, taxes on big business have gone down. Many rich individuals - even companies such as Murdoch's News Corporation - pay little or no taxes.
We support making the rich pay through more progressive taxation (i.e. where the rich pay more than the workers and middle class) and a wealth tax. Even a top tax rate of 60% as in Thatcher's early years would help reduce inequality.
However, the rich can use tax experts to stop the Inland Revenue getting more than a sniff of their wealth.
In any case, by themselves these measures can't lift millions of people out of poverty as well as providing increased funding for public services and a decent level of benefits. To achieve this, we need a socialist plan of economic production.
This would start by taking the top companies in Britain into public ownership under the democratic control and management of the working class.
We could then use the huge wealth that big business has accumulated to fund a massive programme of public investment to ensure jobs and decent living conditions for ordinary people in Britain, including a greatly increased minimum wage and decent benefits.
Poverty amidst wealth is a dire consequence of a wasteful and unjust capitalist system. Join us in the fight for a socialist alternative.
In The Socialist 17 May 2003: