The Voice From The Back Column from the November 2013 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Class Struggle Today (1)
That we live in a modern freedom loving society wherein the owning class and the working class co-operate without nasty out-dated class conflicts has recently been shown as a complete nonsense. Britain’s biggest construction companies finally admitted that they used a secret industry blacklist to vet workers as they announced the creation of a compensation scheme. ‘Unions believe construction companies face paying hundreds of millions of pounds to the 3,213 workers whose details were kept on a database kept by a shadowy organisation called The Consulting Association. The information was used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out trade union activists or those who had raised concerns about health and safety’ (Times, 10 October).
The Class Struggle Today (2)
It is a popular notion, reinforced by politicians, that the police force is completely independent of class interests. Recent disclosures by the Independent Police Commission however show that this is not the case. ‘Police officers across the country supplied information on workers to a blacklist operation run by Britain’s biggest construction companies, the police watchdog has told lawyers representing victims. Independent Police Complaints Commission has informed those affected that a Scotland Yard inquiry into police collusion has identified that it is ‘‘likely that all special branches were involved in providing information’ that kept certain individuals out of work’ (Observer, 13 October). Workers blacklisted for raising issues about health and safety on information from the police should come as no surprise to anyone aware of the present day class struggle.
Hunger In The UK
We all know of charities launching campaigns to feed the hungry in Asia and Africa but here is one aimed at the UK hungry. ‘The Red Cross said it was about to launch a campaign in supermarket foyers asking shoppers to donate food to be distributed to the most needy through the charity FareShare. Rises in basic food prices and soaring utility bills have helped push more than 5m people in the UK into deep poverty. Nearly 500,000 people needed support from food banks last year, according to figures from the Trussel Trust’ (Guardian, 11 October). Half a million relying on food banks in one of the most developed countries in the world – isn’t capitalism wonderful?
How Capitalism Operates
Mr Szymkiowiak is astounded by how capitalism operates. ‘A first-time investor has told BBC News how he is ‘pretty delighted’ after Royal Mail share rose by more than 38 percent after the start of conditional trading. ‘I could potentially make £300 for doing nothing,’ Jamie Szymkiowiak said’’ (BBC News, 11 October). Mr Szymkiowiak may be astounded but that is how capitalism works. His modest little investment is as nothing compared to the billions of pounds that members of the capitalist class make from the exploitation of the working class. The owning class do nothing either except live on the surplus value produced by the working class. Astounded?
This Is Progress?
Supporters of capitalism extol its progressive nature but we wonder what they make of this development. Energy giant SSE announced a price rise of 8.2 percent. It will send gas and electricity bills rocketing by more than £100 and there is expected to be a domino effect in the next few days with other major suppliers also slapping hefty rises on the average dual fuel bill. ‘Pensioner groups said the elderly will be hardest hit, with many forced to decide whether to ‘eat or heat’ as the weather turns colder’ (Daily Express, 11 October). A winter of discontent for many members of the working class seems certain.
No Sympathy For The Unemployed
Many workers foolishly imagine that a future Labour government would be more sympathetic to the unemployed than the present government, but they should pay attention to what the Labour Party’s position really is. ‘Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill, Rachel Reeves, the new shadow work and pensions secretary, has insisted in her first interview since winning promotion in Ed Miliband’s frontbench reshuffle. The 34-year-old Reeves, who is seen by many as a possible future party leader, said that under Labour the long-term unemployed would not be able to ‘linger on benefits’ for long periods but would have to take up a guaranteed job offer or lose their state support’ (Observer, 13 October). The Labour Party want to run British capitalism and there is only one way to do that – as cheaply as possible.