The Socialist 5 June 2019 |
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Tories deny dire poverty ...look around you! Boot out the Tories
Tories out, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
Tessa Warrington, Leicester Socialist Party
"I reject the idea that there are vast numbers of people facing dire poverty in this country." Those were the unbelievable words of Tory chancellor Philip Hammond.
In an interview on BBC Newsnight, Hammond discussed a recent UN report which describes poverty in Britain as "systematic" and "deliberate." It references the findings of the Social Metrics Commission that a total of 14.2 million people - a fifth of the UK population - currently live below the poverty line.
The report charts the normalisation of food banks, rising levels of homelessness and child poverty, drastic cuts to benefits, and severe restrictions on legal aid. This 'normalisation' apparently translates to selective blindness for Hammond, who was estimated to himself have a net worth of £8.2 million in 2014.
He continued: "I don't accept the UN rapporteur's report at all. I think that's a nonsense. Look around you, that's not what we see in this country."
Even Newsnight interviewer Emily Maitlis was compelled to disagree. "We're in Downing Street, so if I look around me I'm not going to see a lot of poverty, but if I went to other parts of the country I would."
Most of us don't need a report to know the extreme level of poverty in Britain. Most of us see it every day; at work, on the streets, in the schools and at home. 1.5 million people experienced destitution in 2017, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Hammond, arch-defender of the super-rich elite and his own wealth, is not blind, but has in fact been the author of austerity, of poverty budgets for the working class, throughout his time as chancellor.
Average chief executive pay at 'FTSE 100' top firms has risen to 145 times that of their average workers, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Sir Angus Deaton, author of the review, warned the bosses: "There's a real question about whether democratic capitalism is working, when it's only working for part of the population."
The capitalists see mass anger brewing under the surface of society, and growing disillusionment with the pro-capitalist political establishment. In reality, they only care about lessening inequality to save their system and their wealth.
But under capitalism, there is no solution on offer, as ten years of global economic crisis and austerity have demonstrated. The alternative is the working class getting organised and fighting to build a new society, along the lines of a publicly owned, worker-controlled, democratically planned, socialist economy.
The working class has waited long enough. Jeremy Corbyn and the trade union leaders must call mass mobilisations for a general election to kick out the Tories.
A fight for a Corbyn-led government with a firm socialist programme to end austerity would receive a massive echo, and could be a first step towards building a mass socialist movement to change society.