The 1,000 richest people in Britain now have a record total wealth of £724 billion—up 10 percent on last year’s figure.
The Sunday Times Rich List shows that this super-wealthy elite have faced none of the cuts suffered by the vast majority since the 2008 credit crunch.
One big reason that motivated tens of thousands of workers to march in London on Saturday is the grinding attacks on living standards. Real wages are still worth £24 a week less than they were in 2008—and are not expected to return to pre-crash levels until 2025.
But the richest 1,000 have almost trebled their wealth since 2009.
The richest individual in this year’s list is fracking and chemicals billionaire Jim Ratcliffe. He increased his wealth by more than £15 billion last year to take his fortune to £21 billion.
Ineos owner Ratcliffe became famous in 2013 when he threatened to close the Falkirk petrochemical plant unless workers accepted a devastating package of job cuts and worse conditions.
In 2010 Ratcliffe and his team left Britain for Switzerland’s much lower corporate tax rate. He returned in 2016, encouraged by Tory tax cuts for the rich.
Ratcliffe is one of a record 145 billionaires in the list—11 more than in 2017. London is the number one city in the world for billionaires, with some 93 billionaires born, living or with their businesses based in the capital.
Mike Platt, has been named Britain’s richest hedge fund manager with a £3 billion fortune.
Platt, BlueCrest capital management co-founder and chief executive, has increased his wealth by £600 million over the past year.
A Tory party donor, Platt also owns a Bombardier Challenger private jet and homes in London, Switzerland and the US. His first investments, funded by his grandmother, were in Britain’s privatised utilities.
In figures that should shatter ideas of Scotland’s “national unity”, there are an unprecedented 79 Scots on the list with a record combined wealth of £32 billion.
Year after year the Rich List provides inescapable proof that taxing the rich properly could deliver billions desperately needed for the NHS, education and other services.
Seizing control of the economic system from such vultures is necessary to win a world where people come before profit.
New nukes are nothing to celebrate
Tory defence secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed on Monday £2.5 billion in spending on Britian’s submarine programme, including its nuclear fleet.
Williamson announced a £1.6 billion contract with BAE Systems to build the seventh and last of the Astute hunter-killer submarines.
He also confirmed a further £960 million worth of contracts has been signed for the next phase of construction of four Dreadnought submarines.
These are the replacement for the Vanguard submarines that carry the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Disgracefully the GMB union celebrated the move and said it came “after Labour joined GMB’s campaign to keep a crucial £1 billion order for three new military support ships in the UK”.
Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said, “After months of lobbying and pressure from employers and trade unions alike, any announcement that means investment in UK shipbuilding is welcome.”
Trade unions and the Labour Party should not cheer spending on weapons that could destroy the world.
They should instead demand that Trident be scrapped and its workers given socially useful jobs. The money saved should go to schools and hospitals.