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From: The Socialist issue 527, 2 April 2008: End Labour's 'them and us' society

Search site for keywords: Northern Rock - Labour - MPs - Applegarth - Wealth gap

End Labour's 'them and us' society

Build a socialist alternative

The feast is over, but the pigs are still at the trough. Cartoon by Suz. From Socialism Today, May 2007

The feast is over, but the pigs are still at the trough. Cartoon by Suz. From Socialism Today, May 2007

You could not make it up. Disgraced former Northern Rock chief executive Adam Applegarth will get a payout of 760,000! We're told that this will be paid monthly and will cease if he finds another job.

Greg Maughan

Hang on a second, Northern Rock's been nationalised. So that is our cash he's getting. Applegarth has been paid almost 10 million over the last five years, but to all intents and purposes he's now claiming jobseeker's allowance!

What about the 2,000 Northern Rock workers, mostly in the north east, whose jobs are being cut? Will they get as handsome a sum as Applegarth?

Or will they be expected to queue at the job centre and subsist on basic jobseeker's allowance? As usual, it is one rule for the disgraced-but-minted former-chief executive and another rule for the rest of us!

Everywhere you look today, it's the same. The wealth gap is a gaping chasm and different rules apply depending on what side of it you're on.

Tax? 'Non-doms' don't have to worry about it. Rich tax exiles in Monaco fork out 878 for a taxi to Nice airport to fly in and out of London to avoid paying their share.

Lord Sainsbury, New Labour's biggest donor, has transferred 340 million worth of shares to a firm he controls in order to dodge more than 27 million of tax. But for us, taxes go up.

Those on low incomes, who previously benefited from the 10% tax band, will now suffer an increase in their tax bills, as from April 2008 the band has been abolished.

The establishment politicians can't be trusted to reduce the wealth gap - they aspire to scrounge like the fat cats they represent!

The 'John Lewis list' of expenses exposed this. MPs can claim 270 for a DVD player. You can get one from Tesco for 14.97. Every little helps, but in the MPs' case a little more's alright!

Why should we pay for their DVD players anyway? So they can put their feet up with a mug of coffee from their 100 coffee-maker and watch the Shameless box-set to find out how the working-classes live? MPs should get the same wages as us and know what real working people's lives are like.

In the Guardian last week, Polly Toynbee wrote that things used to be different: "Above all, parties stood for different class and economic interests. Them-and-us was spelled out loud and clear: whose side are you on, who stands up for people like us?"

That 'them-and-us' divide is clearer than ever in our daily lives, but it is not given a mass political expression. We need a new party on a national scale that stands against scrounging millionaires and sleaze-ridden MPs.

In the coming council elections Socialist Party and other anti-cuts, anti-privatisation candidates will be standing, including socialist councillor Dave Nellist, defending his seat in St Michael's, Coventry. In these areas workers are given an 'us' to vote for.

When this alternative is offered on a national scale in the form of a new mass workers' party we will begin to seriously challenge the rule of big business and the misery it brings.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 2 April 2008

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Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo by Dave Murray

Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo Dave Murray

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