Friday 28 July 2017

How the Tories used "divide and conquer" tactics to trash all of our wages

Since the Tories were enabled back into power in 2010 workers in the United Kingdom have suffered an unprecedented attack on the value of their wages.

The wage collapse

George Osborne's imposition of hard-right austerity dogma and wage repression resulted in the longest sustained fall in the real value of workers' wages since records began.

In fact the only country in the entire developed world to have suffered a post-crisis collapse in wages as bad as Britain's was crisis-stricken Greece, and they were forced into imposing austerity dogma and wage repression by the Troika, the Tories imposed the same toxic hard-right economic snake oil on Britain simply because they wanted to.

The dreadful outcome of these fanatically right-wing economic policies put UK workers in a uniquely bad position. The UK is the only developed nation in the world where the economy has been growing, but the share of the wealth going to workers has been in decline, which leaves the obvious question of where all that extra wealth has been going if not to working people.

Another obvious question that arises is how on earth the Tories have managed to get away with such a prolonged ideological attack on the wages of hard-working people without triggering a furious backlash.


One of the obvious reasons the Tories have got away with this sustained ideological assault on ordinary working people is the fact that the complicit mainstream media barely ever covers the issue.

The facts that British workers have suffered the worst wage collapse since records began should be the narrative that underpins pretty much every newspaper article about politics or the economy, but somehow the ideologically driven Tory "war on wages" is a story that only ever pops up intermittently, with much greater prominence given to absolute drivel like Diane Abbott's bouts of innumeracy, fake stories about Jeremy Corbyn breaking a student debt promise he never made, and endless hate-mongering attacks against any public figure who dares argue for anything but the most extreme-right anti-democratic interpretation of Brexit.

Not only have the mainstream media been complicit with the Tory "war on wages" by omission, they've also desperately failed to ridicule the ridiculous Orwellian propaganda narrative from the Tories that they're the party for "hardworking people".

The Tories have orchestrated the worst collapse in workers' wages on record, repeatedly slashed in-work social security (Tax Credits, sick pay, the child welfare system, maternity & paternity pay, Employment Support Allowance ...), attacked workers' rights (like the right of low-income workers to take bad bosses to Employment Tribunals without paying £1,200 in unlawful Tory tribunal fees), and created a system where a shocking 55% of all families living in poverty are working families.

It's absolutely extraordinary that the mainstream media have allowed an anti-worker party like this to dress themselves up as friends of "hardworking people" without repeatedly calling them out on their completely backwards "black is white" propaganda.

Divide and conquer

One of the classic right-wing political tactics is to drive divisions within sectors of society in order to get them hating each other, rather than fighting back against the government that is actually to blame for most of their problems.

The division the Tories have created in order to drive down all of our wages is between public sector and private sector workers.

The right-wing press have been particularly helpful to the Tories in helping spread this social division with their continual attacks on public sector employees, especially teachers and NHS staff.

The idea is to stoke jealousy amongst private sector employees about the supposedly brilliant wages and fantastic pensions enjoyed by public sector workers in order to justify imposing real terms pay cuts on public sector workers year after year, whilst simultaneously increasing their workloads too.

The economy is interconnected

Dim-witted private sector employees buy into the crude envy politics of the right-wing press and actually end up supporting the public sector pay freeze. They support it because they're actually gullible enough believe the ridiculous narrative that public sector wage repression is about equalising conditions between the public and private sector, rather than a political means of driving down the wages of all of us.

The reason they're too stupid to understand is that they've been conditioned into thinking about the economy in super-simplistic "us and them" terms, rather than seeing the economy as a spectacularly complex mass of interconnections.

Just think about it. If nurses, paramedics and other NHS staff are hit by huge real terms pay cuts for seven consecutive years, what kind of effect would this have on the local economy? 

Would the private sector employees of a hospital's now-struggling local coffee shops and sandwich bars be better off, or worse off, as increasingly over-worked medical staff bring packed lunches instead of eating out?

Would local businesses like restaurants, cinemas, gyms, and takeaways fare better or worse as their public sector clientele are forced to cut back dramatically on luxury expenditure?

If public sector wages in your town are collapsing and people are quitting public sector jobs in droves to seek private sector employment, is this increased competition for private sector jobs going to have an upwards or downwards influence on wages in the private sector?

Anyone who can't see that an intense campaign of wage repression against one sector of society is going to have a knock-on effect on their own wages too is obviously so riddled with envy that they've abandoned even the most basic critical thinking skills in favour of outright jealousy and hate.

Tory inertia

Remember how the Tory party actually cheered themselves when they won their vote to continue repressing the wages of the firefighters, police officers and NHS staff who were the heroues of the Grenfell fire and the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester?

Those cheers were an illustration of the ideological hatred that Tories have towards public sector workers (despite being particularly well-paid public sector workers themselves!). 

To actually cheer themselves for their continued attacks on public sector pay just goes to show how much the Tory party have bought into their own vile divisive propaganda.

A significant proportion of the Tory party are now so enamoured with their own anti-public sector propaganda that there is no way that the party can change direction without triggering yet another internal party civil war on top of the battles that are already raging over Europe and Theresa May's pathetic leadership.

These people actually believe that it makes economic sense to attack workers' wages which depresses economic demand, and create a repetition of the household debt boom that preceded the 2007-08 financial sector meltdown.

They also see public sector workers like nurses, firefighters and teachers as the new "enemy within" who need to be attacked and crushed like the miners were in the 1980s.

The Tories are now in a hopeless bind because they're incapable of seeing beyond their own propaganda. 

They've spent seven years making excuses for socially and economically ruinous austerity dogma, and they've spend seven years deliberately repressing all of our wages.

Just look at the epic struggle Jeremy Corbyn has had trying to tear the Labour Party right away from their fixation with hard-right austerity dogma and attacks on the in-work benefit system, and Labour are traditionally the workers' party (hence the name)!

If Corbyn's had such a difficult job of steering Labour away from hard-right austerity dogma and wage repression policies, just imagine how difficult it would be for a new Tory leader to convince their MPs and party members that they need to reverse austerity and stop wage repression because they've been guilty of driving the UK economy in totally the wrong direction for seven disastrous years.

As long as this Tory government continues to defy the national interest by clinging onto power, there's going to be nothing but the most superficial PR-driven changes of direction.

As long as they cling to power their wage repression policies which affect all of us will continue to increase rates of in-work poverty, cripple economic demand, and re-inflate the dangerous household debt bubble.

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