By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
“Thatcher, Thatcher life snatcher” might have been a more apt rhyme for the Iron Lady after research from Durham University revealed that Mrs T’s policies caused “unjust premature death”.
Just to clear things up, she didn’t wield her own weapons against the general population (she had the police for that) but due to unnecessary unemployment, welfare cuts and damaging housing policy she forced people into early graves.
The research shows that there was a massive increase in income inequality under Mrs Thatcher – the richest 0.01 per cent of society had 28 times the mean national average income in 1978 but 70 times the average in 1990, and UK poverty rates went up from 6.7 per cent in 1975 to 12 per cent in 1985.
Fast forward three decades and it appears we are in back in the 80’s. We have a hit film about bankers greed, mobile phones are huge again and Status Quo are still “Rocking all over the World”, well Wolverhampton Civic Hall, April 3rd – be there!
So at the same time that fire fighters, tube workers and council workers are losing their jobs, the Wolf of Wall street has been a box office hit with DiCaprio making Gordon Gekko look like a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
Greed isn’t good, and if the success with cinema goers is anything to go by, people now idolise and emulate greed. The screenings aren’t full of lefties shaking their heads at the crass materialism of Scorsese’s feature film, on my visit it was full of young men who seemed to also want to have coked-up sex with models while sniffing cocaine from their backsides.
I guess even socialists like to get their rocks off once in a while, but I doubt many Labour Party meetings in draughty church halls end up in group coitus and mind altering substances. Or maybe they do, when I was a young boy my parents always came back from these meetings with a smile on their faces. I just thought they had finished stitching another CND banner. Maybe I was missing a trick.
But with the news that Barclay’s investment banking profits are down 37 per cent and rewards for its bankers up 13 per cent, while cutting 12,000 jobs, I guess there will be a lot more drug-fuelled romps in Canary Wharf penthouses coming up.
The right’s argument is that the super-rich are paying more in taxes, but that’s because they are making more money; don’t pity them. If you pay an extra million in tax this year it is because you have pocketed a good couple of million yourself, regardless of the top rate of tax.
If the government are going to let bankers make huge bonuses again, encourage a housing bubble-fuelled recovery while cutting the deficit (which effectively means cutting essential services, which doesn’t affect a banker or overseas property tycoon) then the gap between rich and poor will be become cavernous, not just wide. Perhaps so far apart that it could never converge again.
The worry is that next time there is a crash (and there will be) there will be no safety net, just a chasm of poverty to fall into. The 1950’s consensus is well and truly over and the public sector has had its day in the sun.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the leader of Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, recently condemned Government’s austerity programme as a ‘disgrace’ for leaving the poor facing ‘destitution’.
If Osborne and Cameron continue to cut away at essential services and the welfare state they too will drive people to their early graves, just like their hero Thatcher did in the “glory” days of the 80’s.