Socialist Worker

Poverty pay: The growing inequality Labour can’t hide

Issue No. 1924

THERE’S A myth that, while there’s trouble in Iraq, the government is doing well over poverty and equality at home. So what do people in Britain earn?

Figures collated in the Financial Times on Monday painted a very different picture to the one we are normally given. They show the average post-tax income is £12,700 a year. That’s a low enough figure, and far lower than the ones that are often bandied around.

But even that is massively inflated by the incomes of the very richest. The median income (the income of the person in the middle of the income range) is just £9,800 after tax.

And median household income (the combined income of all the people in a household) is only £21,700 after tax. Remember, these figures mean that half the people in Britain earn less than this—some a great deal less.

Meanwhile the income of the top 1 percent has grown much faster than any other group under Labour. Today the income of the richest 10 percent is 15 times that of the bottom 20 percent.

At the same time as being a government of war criminals, this government wallows in sharpening class inequality.

tale of two cities

Thank you London— next stop Athens

Gordon Brown will make a well trailed speech on Saturday. He will be speaking to a select audience of government ministers, journalists and academics.

The meeting is organised by one of the many think-tanks whispering into the ear of the New Labour administration.

Few, if any, of the worthies speaking alongside Brown will have set foot in Alexandra Palace last weekend for the European Social Forum (ESF). Brown’s audience will be smaller, whiter and richer—and it will receive widespread press coverage.

The ESF barely registered in the mainstream news. Yet it was the biggest political gathering in Britain for years. And it represented a great spirit, energy and depth of collective knowledge.

The ESF finished with a march which reinvigorated the anti-war movement across Britain. Now on to the next ESF in Athens.

Nuclear power

We need to invest in renewable energy

THE GENERAL secretary of the Amicus union, Derek Simpson, is to meet Gordon Brown to demand greater investment in the energy industry to create jobs. A press release from Amicus also called on the government to extend the lives of Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations.

Nuclear power is the least safe, least environmentally sound and most expensive way of generating electricity. It would have no place in any rational energy plan.

Instead of calling for the government to pour more money down this radioactive drain, Amicus should call for investment, and job creation, in renewable energy sources.

Britain has the best untapped offshore wind resources in Europe—enough to meet its energy needs three times over. And if Britain produced just 10 percent of its energy this way it would create 30,000 new jobs.

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Sat 23 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1924
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