Parties for the rich and foodbanks for us

Parties for the rich and foodbanks for us   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Heather Rawling, Leicester Socialist Party

The bosses of the UK’s biggest companies will have big ugly smiles on their greedy faces.

The FTSE100 chief executives made more money by breakfast time on Friday 7 January than the average UK worker will earn in the entire year. The richest 1% of households were getting richer even before the pandemic, taking their average wealth to £3.66 million. The wealth gap has widened further since.

Yet who kept the country going during the lockdowns? Key workers in health, social care and public services looked after our friends and relatives. Transport workers risked their lives getting people to work. Lorry drivers brought food and other essential supplies to shops where shop workers filled the shelves and served us on the checkouts.

Our pay packets are under attack. Food prices are rising and Universal Credit has been cut. Gas and electricity prices are due to rise by around 50%. Rents are rising at the fastest rate for 13 years. We work hard, often juggling more than one job, to put food on the table and shoes on the feet of our children.

Unless there is a concerted, coordinated fightback by the unions and other organisations, more people will have to choose between heating and food.

Rich get richer

The big business bosses won’t be worrying about their bills. The pandemic has been good news for them.

The total wealth of billionaires worldwide rose by $5 trillion to $13 trillion in 12 months to April 2021 – the most dramatic surge ever registered on the Forbes magazine rich list.

The Tory government has awarded thousands of Covid contracts to private companies, spending billions of pounds of our hard-earned money. Johnson’s cronies have done very well out of the crisis.

And it hasn’t exactly been good value. One private testing lab issued 43,000 false negative PCR tests before tests were stopped, just one example on a long list of failed private PPE and test and trace.

Every government move shows it has one overwhelming priority: to protect big business profits. That means hitting working-class households with price rises and tax increases.

The trade union-led fightback has started, with workers’ strikes winning pay rises. But it has only just begun and would be strengthened by a new mass party of the working class to fight in our interests.

Fight for:

  • Above inflation pay rises
  • Decent pensions and benefits, rising with the cost of living
  • A £15-an-hour minimum wage with no youth exemptions
  • Make big business pay. Take energy, housing, supermarkets and privatised health and care into public *ownership under democratic workers’ control to be run for people’s needs, not profit
  • A new mass workers’ party to fight in our interests