Socialist Worker

Turn the anger onto the rich

Issue No. 1693

What we think

Turn the anger onto the rich

Under New Labour the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer. The poorest people in society now have just a 6 percent share of income-which is LESS than under John Major's hated Tory government. This is down from 10 percent in 1978. The filthy rich in the top fifth, however, have seen their wealth increase to a whopping 45 percent.

This scandal has been ignored by most of the media who pump out the idea that asylum seekers are to blame for the problems people face in Britain today. The growing gap between rich and poor, not refugees, is at the root of people's bitterness and frustration. Yet the rich, who have gained most under New Labour, are leading the witch-hunt against refugees.

They include:

  • Sun owner and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who has a personal wealth of 4 billion spread around the globe. He has dodged 1.4 billion in corporation tax since 1988.
  • Tory treasurer Michael Ashcroft, who was recently made a lord by Tony Blair, made his billions in the City and then evaded tax in Britain by setting up in Belize.
  • The Rothermere family, who own the Daily Mail, and are worth 1.2 billion. The late Lord Rothermere dodged paying taxes by spending only 80 days a year in Britain. Instead he enjoyed the high life at his homes in Paris and New York.
  • Conrad Black, who runs the Daily Telegraph, came to Britain from Canada to build up his 250 million media empire.

Bosses, businessmen and newspaper chiefs don't give a damn about borders and immigration controls when it comes to making money.

Yet they want to deny any freedom of movement to those fleeing repression, poverty and war. The rich, with their luxury homes across the world, don't give a damn about rotten housing or poverty wages. Those leading the witch-hunt want the poorest to turn on each other, rather than pointing the finger of blame at the fat cats' obscene wealth.

Despite the atmosphere whipped up daily by the press and politicians, many people are disgusted by the attacks on refugees. A poll in the London Evening Standard last week found that 35 percent of people wanted the London mayor to "encourage London boroughs to give more help to people seeking asylum in Britain".

The more people who speak out against the witch-hunt, the more we can begin to turn the tide against the racist scapegoating. That is why trade union leader Bill Morris's statement attacking New Labour's asylum policies for giving life to the racists was so welcome. And it is why we urge all our readers to make a stand to defend refugees.

Open door for dictators

TONY BLAIR welcomed a man responsible for creating hundreds of thousands of refugees into Downing Street this week.

New Russian leader Vladimir Putin has waged a brutal war against the Chechen people, which has seen countless civilians murdered and tortured. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes, families and possessions, and have been forced into camps on the Chechen border. If any of the victims of the Chechen war asked for refuge in Britain, they would be hounded and forced to live on a pittance. Yet Putin, the man responsible for their plight, met with Blair for three hours, had tea with the queen and spoke to business leaders at the bosses' club, the CBI.

Putin urged British businessmen to invest in Russia. Blair said that he and Putin "talked the same language" when it came to "economic reform". In Russia such "reform" has meant privatisation which has seen a few enrich themselves while the mass of the population have become impoverished. Putin's visit exposes the hypocrisy of Blair's claims for a "new humanitarianism". Blair will wine and dine any leader, no matter what their crimes, as long as he thinks it is "good for business".

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Article information

Fri 21 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1693
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