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Perspectives for Britain 2016

Socialist Party documents

Perspectives for Britain 2016

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Joyless recovery

18. The supposed economic recovery of recent years has been joyless for the overwhelming majority. A study by the London School of Economics has shown that real median wages fell by almost 10% from 2008 to the end of 2014.

The small increase in wages in 2015 is a drop in the ocean compared to what has been lost. Not only are a million families reliant on food banks to survive, clothes banks are also now on the rise, with parents unable to find the money to clothe their children.

The idea that the next generation would be better off than their parents is now dead and buried. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 'millennials' (those born between 1982 and 2004) are 16% less likely to own their own home than their parents, who in turn are 10% less likely to own than the generation before.

Permanent secure work is becoming a thing of the past. One recent report estimated that in Britain there are now five million people - overwhelmingly young - who are paid through online platforms such as Uber and TaskRabbit.

The author of the report commented: "For many, it is a life in which they do not know from one week, day or even hour to the next when or whether they will have work, so they keep their smartphone always to hand, ready to hit 'accept' at a moment's notice.

"They are, in short, permanently logged on." This is a vivid illustration of modern capitalism, where advancing technology is used as a tool to return working conditions to the Victorian age.

19. Nor is it only working class young people who are affected by the character of modern capitalism.

Increasingly, big sections of the middle class are facing their jobs being deskilled and their pay and working conditions severely undermined.

This is happening in both the private sector - as the capitalist class uses new technology as a tool to cut wage costs - and in the public sector as a result of austerity.

The junior doctors strike and also the battle in defence of legal aid are an indication of the militant and determined struggles, using the traditional methods of the working class, that can develop among sections of society traditionally seen as 'middle class'.

These sections of society have played an important role not only in struggle in the recent period but also in the development of new political formations.

They make up much of the membership of Podemos in Spain and are also important to the development of Corbynism.

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