MPs and Workers: a tale of two classes


VENDETTA TOGETHER: Tories fear a revolt growing against poverty pay

by Richie Venton, SSP national workplace organiser A tale of two classes; or two planets, more like! All that is rotten and unequal about the capitalist economic system is reflected in the accompanying political system and the capitalist politicians, regardless of whether Tory or Labour.

Tory MP Malcolm Rifkind shamelessly asserted “it’s quite unrealistic to believe MPs will go through their parliamentary career being able to simply accept a salary of £60,000 a year”, as he told us mere mortals that he is “entitled” to earn “far, far more than that”.

With unfortunate timing for those who want working class people to put up with what we get and shut up from complaining, the annual Low Pay Commission’s report recommended a whopping 20 pence an hour rise on the national minimum wage next October! That’s £6.70 an hour if you’re 21 or over; apprentices should be suitably thankful for the 7 pence rise the LPC has proposed for them, to a giddy £2.80!

The bosses’ CBI has no hesitation in telling the working class to shut up and count their blessings. Spokesperson for the engorged rich, Katja Hall, said the CBI “welcomes this balanced approach”, adding: “Any artificial increase due to political expediency will help no one and ultimately damage one of the most successful government policies of recent years.”

Artificial increase?! If the national minimum wage had increased by the 243 per cent rise enjoyed by company executives in the 15 years since it was introduced, it wouldn’t be £6.50, or £6.70, but £18.89 a hour—now! These creatures at the heart of big business buy politicians to do their bidding, shaping the tax laws, employment legislation and rampant privatisation that fattens their profits with obscene success.

Systematically driving down workers’ wages as a share of national wealth has been a central mission of successive Tory and Labour governments for the past 40 years. Otherwise, if wages as a percentage of GDP were at the same level today as they were in 1975, a worker currently on £12,000 would be earning £21,300; one on £20,000 would instead enjoy £31,300; and a worker on the current average wage of £27,200 would instead be on £35,931!

Two former government Ministers who played their part in hampering workers’ trade unions, hammering workers’ wages and helping boost capitalists’ rent, interest and profit are the disgraced reprobates Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw.

Rifkind obviously takes the ‘far, far more than £60,000’ that he believes he’s ‘entitled to’. In fact he’s on £81,936 as an MP and chairman of a Westminster Select Committee. Not to mention the £800,000 he’s grabbed in the last five years from the five jobs outside parliament that he actually declared.

Labour’s Jack Straw admits he earns—in one day—nearly as much as the annual wage of a worker on the £6.50 minimum on a 20 hour contract: “Normally if I’m doing a speech or something it’s £5,000 a day, that’s what I charge”.

Up until he was caught on tape boasting about the price he can be bought for, Straw subscribed to Labour’s promise of an £8 minimum wage…but not until 2020, making it barely any more than today’s pathetic £6.50.

When Tory millionaire David Cameron told the assembled business fat cats of the British Chambers of Commerce that “Britain needs a pay rise”, you know there’s something happening in the real world.

First and foremost, there’s a general election in two months’ time. Secondly, the ruthless ruling class Cameron is part of are increasingly scared a revolt is growing against the outrageous system of poverty pay these exploiters rely on to make record profits, directors’ bonuses and dividends to the big parasitic shareholders.

That’s how the three richest families in Scotland own more wealth than the poorest 20 per cent of people, and how Britain’s richest family has more in their pocket than 12.5 million people in the UK!

These capitalist bloodsuckers have drained workers dry, leaving one in five workers below the breadline; creating the longest, deepest fall in real wages since 1856; making the average Scottish worker £1,900 a year worse off than in 2010.

One of the central issues in the general election is poverty pay and galloping inequality. People face stark choices in those seats where the SSP has been able to afford to stand candidates.

Vote for Labour to continue their obnoxious track record of suppressing workers’ wages with the help of the Thatcherite anti-union laws they retained in government.

Vote for their bogus headline of an £8 minimum wage, ignoring the stark reality they are only promising this figure five years from now, 2020, with inflation meantime wiping out any meaningful increase this figure would mean.

Vote SNP, with their welcome but extremely limited support for the £7.85 Living Wage. Limited, because the level is still far below what is required to match the mounting cost of living, and limited because it’s entirely voluntary, not legally enforceable, left to the whims and fancies of employers.

Or people disgusted by corrupt politicians can vote for the SSP, and our relentless, determined campaign for a £10 minimum living wage for all over 16—now, not in 2020 or some other distant date. MPs are so divorced from the struggles of everyday life faced by the rest of us that they have no interest in combating poverty pay.

Their current basic salary is £67,060. That’s set to rise to £74,000 after the elections. But even that is not enough for many of them. When the body that sets MPs’ salaries—the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority—surveyed MPs’ views on what they thought they should be paid, back in 2013, the AVERAGE response was £86,250!

Of course MPs from all the ‘mainstream’ pro-capitalist parties will gladly pocket the full ‘rate for the job’—and on top, many of them grab hundreds of thousands more on jobs outside parliament, treating being an MP as their ‘day job’.

In contrast, any SSP MP or MSP will only take the average skilled worker’s wage, to stay in touch with the working class we seek to represent and help fight for a sweeping redistribution of wealth through socialist measures.

Two classes; two planets! The SSP knows which class we fight for. And the despicable Malcolm Rifkind once said “The future is not what it used to be”! Let’s make sure of that by organising for a socialist future than banishes poverty, inequality and corruption.

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