Socialist Worker

The class war is far from over

Issue No. 1700

The class war is far from over

"TALK OF class war is complete rubbish," declared Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair's official spokesman, this week. He was trying to dampen down the talk of class raised by the government's rhetoric against elitism in education.

In reality the government has done nothing to challenge entrenched privilege. Blair has made more people from privileged backgrounds into judges than even the Tories did. Of the 85 top judges appointed or promoted since 1997, more than ever went to a public school and to Oxford or Cambridge University ("Oxbridge").

Some 79 percent of the new judges had been to public schools and 73 percent went to Oxbridge. Yet just 8 percent of the population goes to public school. Since Labour got into government Eton college has spawned two Court of Appeal judges, six High Court judges and 12 circuit judges.

Eton's fees are �13,410 a year. That is nearly double the yearly pay of someone on the minimum wage. Some eight High Court judges, one Court of Appeal judge and five circuit judges went to Winchester. Its fees are �13,544 a year. All 12 law lords are male and only 42 out of 534 judges in Britain are women. There are no Asian or black high court judges.

Some doing very nicely

BT FAT cat Iain Vallance got a 7 percent pay rise and a 53 percent rise in his pension, despite a 32 percent fall in the company's profits last year. The part time chairman of the company raked in �1.08 million in pay, bonuses and pension contributions.

Upstairs, downstairs

MOST PEOPLE in Britain consider themselves working class. That is what the government's own Office for National Statistics has revealed. Far from disappearing, the old style "upstairs, downstairs" class divide is coming back.

The fastest growing area of work is for people cleaning, shopping, childminding and generally skivvying for the "cash-rich" minority. Multinational company Unilever has set up an subsidiary, called Myhome, to employ regiments of servants to hire out to the rich.

Even the pro New Labour Guardian noted that for most workers, "Talk of family friendly employment policies or parental leave is a mirage. For those on rock bottom wages, both parents need to work all the hours they can to keep the family afloat financially. Karl Marx would recognise their situations." Indeed he would.

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Sat 10 Jun 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1700
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