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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 July 2012

TV Review: Britain on the brink - back to the '70s

Paul Callanan

This Panorama documentary (9 July) looked at what effect the economic crisis had on ordinary people. It asked whether we would see the same response as at the end of the 1970s when falling living standards led to huge industrial unrest.

The programme first looked at Clapham, south London, which in the 70s was home to what they called the "ordinary man".

Nowadays Clapham is out of reach for "ordinary" families. Bankers have now moved into the area and house prices sky-rocketed from three times average income in the 1970s to five times today.

Even the previously well to do are being squeezed. Justin and Rosanne Pilditch were forced to move their family away from the area as a result of property prices. They were used as an example of the "squeezed middle".

Nancy Kelly of the Rowntree Foundation said their research showed that the poor are hit hardest. As costs go up it is not 'luxuries' that become most out of reach to working class people but basic necessities.

Gas prices rose 16% in a year, while childcare went up 6%. Food prices too - in the last four years the cost of white fish went up by four times the rate of inflation.

The programme looked at the desperate situation for young people, taking us to Stainforth near Doncaster.

In the 1970s the community was based around the town's coal mine. That all disappeared as a result of Thatcher's attacks on working class rights and living standards.

A quarter of all young people in Stainforth are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

But instead of talking about how people are fighting back (no representatives of the trade union movement were featured) the programme raised the spectre of rioting.

It discussed how the rich are getting richer. The presenter said the "rich had never had it so good", the top 1% saw their share of the wealth (already large) grow by a quarter since 1970.

A survey carried out by the programme has found that two-thirds of all people have no faith in the government to solve the crisis.

Haley Gay, a single mother and a school admin assistant, felt "that the government who make decisions on behalf of the people are out of touch with the people".

Crispin Oday, a banker who took home £36 million in 2010, said we need to "forgive the bankers" and that the untrammelled free market is the only way.

He claimed that when we have a crisis like this there's a danger that "people in second class start looking at those in first class and say let's storm first class".

And the super rich should be very worried about that danger, the programme pointed out that we now have a unifying hate figure in the bankers.

Join the Socialist Party and help build and unite a movement of workers and young people around a real socialist alternative to the crisis and this rotten capitalist system.

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In The Socialist 11 July 2012:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

LOOTED! PFI empties NHS coffers

Fight Profit From Illness

Save Worcestershire A&E services

Socialist Party editorial

Libor scandal exposes rotten racketeering system

Lords reform - Abolish the House of privilege!

Save our server!

Youth Fight for Jobs and Education feature

Fight for a future for the 99%

The politics of fighting the racist EDL

Pride should be about protest, not profits!


Workplace news and analysis

London bus workers discuss new offer: "militant strike action pays"

Build the fightback against the Con-Dems: Join the lobby of the TUC on 9 September

Single status appeal: Victory for Vine workers

Sheffield recycling workers win victory against sackings

Vote no to the local government pension offer

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

Egypt: Will Mursi's presidential election victory bring real change?

Socialist Party reviews and comments

TV Review: Britain on the brink - back to the '70s

The Shard: As useless as a hole in the ground

Ringing bells in the GMB

Minimum wage, minimum security

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TUSC continues to build support in Liverpool

Leeds protest at prison privatisation rally

Help boost sales of the Socialist

Socialist Party Summer Camp


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