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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 February 2008

Rich get richer - We pay the bills

RMT protest against the fat-cats, photo Paul Mattsson

RMT protest against the fat-cats, photo Paul Mattsson

THE GROWING chasm in wealth between the super-rich and the rest of us is causing seething anger amongst workers who struggle with rising fuel bills, huge mortgages and additional charges. A recent Guardian/ICM poll shows that a staggering 75% of those polled say that the gap between the highest and lowest incomes is too wide in Britain.

Rob Windsor, Coventry Socialist Party councillor

The anger is not surprising. Last year even the Daily Mail reported that: "The super-rich are using loopholes to avoid paying 2 billion a year in income tax. Only one in six of those earning more than 10 million a year is paying tax on their earnings - with the rest using loopholes to dodge the burden.

"The revelation will fuel anger over the private equity tycoons who are making vast fortunes while the gap between rich and poor widens."

Significantly, in the Guardian poll, a majority of those polled would support increased spending on public services. Gordon Brown's government, however, proposes cutting public spending budgets by 3% every year. These are actual cash cuts meaning job losses and poorer public services, including councils.

Meanwhile, the legion of bloated 'consultants' sent in to size up services for cuts are slavering, like jackals let loose on a sheep farm. In Coventry recently, it was revealed that consultants sent to "restructure" (ie cut) health services were charging 100 an hour.

Last December a poll revealed that 55% of voters were "fairly optimistic" about their economic prospects. Now, 51% are listed as being "pessimistic" about the future.

Working people are caught in a vice of increasing worry and poverty. Recently a housing consultation in Coventry revealed that the "entry level" price of a new home in the city is just over 100,000 and that 56% of the city's population can't afford it. Even fewer will be able to afford this after recent economic events.

Coventry is only one city where housing costs have soared. For workers in London, the south generally, and the North West the situation is dire with young people being worst affected.

Brown's response was to shamelessly cut corporation tax for the rich last year. He has failed miserably to deal with the issue of super-rich capitalists paying no tax at all. His ministers, like the appropriately named Caroline Flint, attack and blame the very poorest rather than tackle the fat cats who are laughing all the way to their offshore banks.

The latest poll reveals discontent but it can't be left at this. We need action to defend public services. We need a new workers' party to attack the real causes of the economic crisis, the arrogant super-rich and their system.

We need socialism, to ensure that the working people who make the wealth also own it and control where it goes. That change is needed to build a better world where basic things like a decent home that doesn't cost the earth and a cheap, publicly controlled fuel and utility supply are a right and not something to constantly worry about.

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In The Socialist 27 February 2008:

Rich get richer - We pay the bills

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Trade union activist fights intimidation

Members protest at Unison witch-hunt

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Campaign for a New Workers Party

Building the Campaign for a New Workers' Party

Workplace news

Shelter staff vote to strike

Acas staff ballot for strike

Journalists battle for union rights

Workplace News in brief

International socialist news and analysis

Scotland - Vendetta against Tommy Sheridan condemned

Feature: Fidel Castro's resignation opens up new chapter

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