Socialist Worker

Divided Britain

The 1,000 richest people’s wealth went up by £77 billion last year – 21-year old Vicky Harrison committed suicide after rejection for 200 jobs

Issue No. 2199

SW front page

SW front page


Mainstream politicians have refused to talk about the deep inequality in Britain during the election campaign.

But sometimes reality breaks through. Vicky Harrison, 21, took her own life recently by overdosing on drugs a day after receiving yet another rejection letter for a job application.

She could no longer cope after two years on the dole.

Vicky’s parents said their daughter sometimes applied for a dozen jobs in a week, including shop work, waitressing and stacking shelves.

Her father Tony said, “It was really hard seeing her confidence suffer after each rejection.

“You expect to leave school, college, or university, and get a job quite easily but it doesn’t happen as there are so many people going for the same job.”

The reality for millions of people is that the economic crisis already means misery—even before the public spending cuts start in earnest.

In contrast there is a select group of people who are not just surviving but enjoying a massive increase in their wealth.

The top 1,000 richest people in Britain saw their wealth shoot up by £77 billion last year.

The Sunday Times Rich List 2010, published last week, opens a window into their world of luxury.

Britain’s super-rich have seen their wealth increase by an average of 30 percent to a total of £336 billion—a record in the Rich List’s 22-year history.

And behind that figure are some obscene examples of billionaires who, in just one year, have seen their wealth double, triple—or increase even more.

This month one merchant bank advertised for a salesperson to peddle loans, offering the chance to “earn crazy money in an aggressively-growing ­boutique bank”.

And they aren’t kidding—City bonuses are expected to reach £7 billion this year.

The politicians simply don’t care about the real divide in British society.

They protect the rich while attacking the poor.

Lord Digby Jones, once a minister in Gordon Brown’s government, said this week that the unemployed should be “starved back to work”.

The Tories are proposing to slash benefits for people who “fail” to get jobs, and Labour has a similar plan.

The next time a politician whinges about scroungers on benefits, remember Vicky Harrison.

It is too late for her but it is not too late to take on the scroungers at the top and their incredible wealth.


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Tue 27 Apr 2010, 18:51 BST
Issue No. 2199
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