Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/756/16297
Them & Us
The Royal Bank of Bank of Scotland is 83% owned by the government. That means that we're paying for the bank's £390 million fine for rigging interest rates. Meanwhile, 95 RBS bankers took home at least £1 million in 2012. Glad to see they're feeling the pinch.
Though RBS is at the lower end of bankers' rewards. HSBC paid 204 bankers £1 million or more.
At Barclays, 428 people were paid at least £1 million in 2012, more than its £290 million fine for rate rigging. 1,338 were paid over £500,000. But these aren't the bank employees you meet at the counter - most Barclays workers are paid less than £25,000.
So, instead of letting the same few crooks manage the vaults, the banks should be fully nationalised under democratic workers' control and management, with compensation only paid out on the basis of proven need.
Not poor enough
The government's stinginess has been revealed in recent figures that show that many children who live in poverty still aren't poor enough to be afforded free school meals. In 57 of England's parliamentary constituencies, more than 60% of those living in poverty have a family income that is too high to qualify. This is despite a number of surveys and teachers organisations raising concerns about the number of children hungry at school.
Giving free school meals to all children whose family receives welfare benefits would cost £500 million a year - a drop in the ocean compared to annual tax avoidance by the super-rich alone.
Childcare costs are rising at nearly twice the rate of inflation. In 2012 the average weekly cost of childcare went up by 6% while inflation was officially 2.7%. As wages stagnate, jobs are shed and increases in benefits are capped, more and more families are struggling with childcare costs which, for many, amount to more than rent or mortgage payments.
A full-time place at nursery for an under-two now costs £11,000 a year while the fastest rising costs was for after school clubs for older children, which increased by 9% last year.
Ukip might find it difficult to be seen as the 'radical opposition' it would like to be if it carries on as it's going. After all, you have to fit into a certain mould to be invited round for tea with Rupert Murdoch as leader Nigel Farage was recently.
Farage said: "He's a remarkable bloke. I enjoyed meeting him enormously but the political content I am going to choose to keep private." But the Telegraph reported that Farage told Murdoch he would consider a coalition with the Tories if Cameron stepped down as leader. So his only problem with the Tories is Cameron. Not so new and different then.
We're all in it together
The 'myth of the week' on the PCS website is "we're all in it together". The union points out:
The top 10% of households are a staggering 850 times wealthier than the bottom 10%
Half of UK households have just £400 in net cash at hand, compared to the £123,200 held by this top 10%
The ONS found that while the top 10% had pension savings averaging £742,000, the bottom 50% of households have just £4,000
To add insult to injury, increases in how much MPs pay towards their own pension scheme have been suspended this year despite rises for nearly all public sector workers
Two thirds of the cabinet are millionaires. Prime Minister David Cameron is estimated to be worth at least £3.8 million, Chancellor George Osborne £4.5 million, defence secretary Philip Hammond £8.2 million, and many more
What we heard
Disgraced former Tory defence secretary Liam Fox claimed recently that: "The great socialist coup of the last decade was making wealth an embarrassment. It is not. It is the prize for aspiration and hard work, and its side effects are higher tax revenues, more jobs and more investment."
Hmm...among other problems with this, there's plenty of wealth around (the latest Forbes Rich list showed that there are now 1,426 billionaires with a net worth of $5.4tn) but we're still waiting for the jobs and investment bit...
In The Socialist 13 March 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party review