Those at the top keep telling us that “we’re all in it together”.
Yet this week Gordon Brown showed that he can simply reach into his pocket and pull out more than many people earn in a year.
He was forced to repay £12,415 in expense claims after an independent audit that is set to cost MPs tens of thousands of pounds.
They can afford it. But ordinary people can’t.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne adopted “We’re all in it together” as his slogan at the Tory conference earlier this month.
It is a message that is echoing all over the political spectrum – the idea that everyone has to make sacrifices during the recession.
Yet Osborne’s expense claims included charging for a chauffeur to drive him from Cheshire to London.
The real scandal of MPs’ expense claims was that they were able to take such outrageous amounts and say it was “within the rules”.
Much of Brown’s repayment is for claims he made for cleaning and gardening, which, bizarrely, there was no limit on at all.
MPs are paid £65,000 a year. Cabinet ministers get over £140,000 a year and the prime minister £195,000.
Why should they be allowed to claim anything for gardening and cleaning?
The auditor’s report into expenses has now capped expense claims at £1,000 a year for gardening and £2,000 a year for cleaning – still a huge amount.
Some claims even included over-claiming for council tax and avoiding capital gains tax.
MPs now say it’s a sacrifice to pay us back.
But working class people would face jail if they didn’t pay their council tax or avoided other taxes.
The same hypocrisy was on show when it came to the ruling class’s response to the post strike vote this week.
When workers fight to defend their jobs, pay and conditions they are always told that they could destabilise their company or even the entire economy.
So the Daily Mail newspaper ran a screaming headline that read, “Suicide of the Royal Mail” on Friday of last week.
It argued that the post workers’ vote for national strike action would destroy the service.
But it’s not workers who are destabilising public services and the economy – it’s the rich, and the New Labour government that backs them up.
We’re not “all in it together”. It is workers who are expected to swallow cuts and attacks while for those at the top it’s business as usual.
For all the anti-banker rhetoric, the bankers are still raking in the bonuses and the MPs have still got their noses in the trough.
It is the bosses, the Tories and New Labour who are really “in it together”.
They are united in their determination to make us pay for their crisis – so backing the post fight is the best way to make sure we don’t.