Socialist Worker

Chances for all or old school tie?

Issue No. 1801

NEW LABOUR leaders have a clear message about how to succeed in their 'enterprising Britain'. It is that if you pass your exams, work hard and 'fit in' with your employer you are on the way up.

A new study released last week shattered that dream. It showed that class is still as powerful as ever in Britain-and that in fact things are getting worse. It underlined what we can see all around us-most rich people are rich because they have family and connections which smooth their path from birth. It found that almost three quarters of rich people's income comes more or less directly from their background.

The study by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University has found that people from working class backgrounds are virtually stuck there. Moving between classes- 'social mobility'-is seizing up. The generation born around 1970 are more likely to take jobs similar to their parents than the generation born in 1958.

Researchers found that people with parents in high earning jobs are far more likely to get well paid jobs themselves. Another study found that even when working class people get to top universities they earn on average 16 percent less than graduates from wealthy families. The rich come out of college to gilded jobs, with their debts paid by their parents. Working class people struggle to find any sort of decent job and have debts of £10,000 or more weighing them down.

Your class position dominates everything. People are increasingly marrying others from the same social background. Yet another study just published shows that success at school is firmly linked to parents' income.

Inequality has grown massively over the last 25 years under successive Tory and New Labour governments which have put the needs of big business over working people. Blair claims to rule 'for the many, not the few'. But he defends the wealth and power of the rich, and therefore bolsters the power of an elite.


The bankers still grab millions while millions starve in Africa

AROUND 20 million people in Africa are on the verge of starvation. Yet the big banks, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank continue to suck those countries dry. They are murdering children as surely as if they put a gun to their head and pulled the trigger.

In Malawi two million out of the population of 11 million suffer from malnutrition. Over the past five years Malawi has been forced to pay around $100 million a year to the bankers.

The IMF and World Bank insisted last year that Malawi must cut its health and education spending by 15 percent. Disease rocketed, adding to the crisis. Millions are also under threat in Zambia. It paid out $172 million last year in debt.

The 'debt relief' plans for Zambia and Malawi will actually see them paying out more in debt in five years time than they are now. The chancellor, Gordon Brown, a key figure in the IMF, makes speeches about debt reduction and then implements the IMF's killing stance.

All the debt should be cancelled now, and a massive aid package sent to the affected countries. If it was the 'war on terrorism' money would be no object. Do Bush and Blair believe 20 million African lives matter at all?


Solidarity with Palestinians

TENS OF thousands of people marched through the streets of central London last Saturday in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The loud, angry and vibrant march heard speeches from Egyptian writer and campaigner Nawal El Saadawi, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and general secretary of the Natfhe lecturers' union Paul Mackney.

'Tony Blair says Yasser Arafat is letting down the Palestinian people,' said George Galloway MP. 'Mr Blair, it's you who is letting down the Palestinian people by selling weapons to Israel and supporting Sharon.'

Writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen said, 'The media say Israel does this or Israel does that. They should say the US and Israel do this or that. Behind Israel stands US imperialism. The US sees the Middle East and its oil as vital to its interests. I am a British-born Jew here to express my solidarity with the Palestinians. Israel is not my homeland-I renounce my right of return. Support the Palestinian fight for justice and freedom. Support the fight for all the people in the Middle East to own and control the resources of the region.'

There were over 20 trade union banners on the march, including eight from Unison, three from the TGWU, and others from the RMT, TSSA, Ucatt and NUT.


Marxism 2002

A week debating all the key issues on the left, 5-12 July, central London.

Marxism 2002 will be one of the biggest left wing events in Europe this year. You can join in discussions with anti-capitalists like Haidi Giuliani, mother of the demonstrator killed in Genoa last July, Susan George, and Vittorio Agnoletto, who is from the World Social Forum.

There will be speakers from the anti-war movement like Tariq Ali, Lindsey German, Tony Benn and George Galloway, and popular Marxist writers and activists like Mike Davis and Alex Callinicos.

Phone 020 7538 2707, visit www.swp.org.uk/marxism or e-mail marxism@swp.org.uk


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What We Think
Sat 25 May 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1801
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