Monday, 12 December 2016


Two figures who should know all about the workings of British capitalism have declared the utter failure of their preferred system in the space of two weeks. 

In his Autumn Statement, Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted the Tories have failed miserably in their goals of slashing government debt and state borrowing. Despite the excruciating pain of endless austerity imposed by them on workers and communities - jobs and services slaughtered, benefits blitzed, workers' rights razed to the ground - the national debt has rocketed and economic growth stalled. 

Straight from the Banker's Mouth
Two weeks after Hammond declared continued cuts - with no prospects of real pay rises since 2006 until at least 2021 - the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, added his own damning verdict on the system that produces the profits and perks of bankers and billionaires. He concluded we've suffered the first 'lost decade' of fallen wages since the 1860s; with "staggering wealth inequalities" tripling the wealth share of the richest 1% from a third in 2000 to half all wealth in 2010; and 'milennials' (those becoming adults since 2000) earning £8,000 less in their 20s than their predecessors did.
Carney reaffirms what workers already know firsthand, at terrible personal cost, and what we've written about in anger for years: the hardest hit by recessions are the poorest, and younger or part-time workers (two-thirds of whom are women).
This is about as stunning a revelation as saying Carney's salary of £874,000 makes him better off than the average bank worker in your local Bank of Scotland branch!
But coming from the BoE chief, it is a shattering judgement on capitalism - including its dominant financial wing. 

Challenge and Change the System
The point is not only to understand the system - and its appalling consequences for millions who produce society's wealth through their skills, labour and dedication - but to challenge and change it. 
Carney merely warns that "public support for open markets is under threat", with plummeting real pay, rocketing inequality, and the growth of protectionism (as threatened by Donald Trump) all hampering economic growth. He just wants a modified form of capitalism, not its replacement. A few crumbs from the capitalists' table to let the plebs spend enough to fuel a consumer-led recovery in economic output and profits.
Like Hammond, the banker-in-chief offers nothing to cure the disease. Indeed, the Tories' medicine is worse than the disease! 

Tory Cure Worse than the Disease
Hundreds of thousands are currently getting notice of cuts to their benefits, with growing queues of desperate people seeking food bank parcels and advice off welfare rights workers. Homelessness is rising as housing benefits are slashed and sanctions hammer the poorest.
The Tories have targeted Glasgow for savage closure of Job Centres, not only threatening low-paid DWP staff jobs, but especially adding another cruel layer of punishment to the unemployed - adding drastically to their journeys, making a walk to the Job Centre virtually impossible, public transport even more unaffordable, lateness for appointments far more likely, thereby battering the poorest with an escalated sanctions regime that has already driven thousands to starvation, in some cases suicide. 
The number of 'Daniel Blakes' is set to rocket.

Tent City at Amazon!
As sections of the press expose the repressive hell-hole for workers inside tax-dodging exploiters like Amazon, other reports reveal Amazon workers camping out in tents in the bitter winter weather in the woods beside their Dunfermline plant, to save the fares to work that they can't afford on Amazon wages. 
Maybe that's what Mark Carney means by "open markets"! So much for the old adage of working to keep a roof over your head!
Abstract labels like 'neo-liberalism' and 'globalization' cannot begin to convey the brutality of exploitation millions of workers and unemployed or sick workers suffer, as human sacrifices on the altar of profit.

Socialist Measures to Tackle Root Causes 
Prime causes of poverty amongst younger and part-time workers are the series of lower legal minimum wages for under-25s, and the spreading plague of casualised, insecure jobs; its ultimate expression being zero hours contracts. Both are consciously manufactured tools of planned poverty by capitalist employers and their politicians. 

End Age Wage Discrimination 
The SSP has persistently fought for abolition of the lower youth rates of minimum wage; for the same guaranteed minimum for all from 16 upwards - a rate that reflects the real cost of living, without workers being chained to dependency on in-work, top-up benefits - £10-an-hour now! 
This would counter a growing trend towards employing younger staff in preference to 'older' workers who legally have to be paid a bit more. Take a trip round any High Street or retail park and you'll spot the age profiles lowering in recent years, to allow profiteers to lower their wage bills.

Zero Hours, Zero Rights 
There is increasing fury at zero hours contracts, where workers in hospitality, social care, retail, education, fast food outlets, etc - 120,000 of them in Scotland alone - sit by their mobile or email in desperate hope of a shift, and frequently fork out transport costs to work only to be told they're not needed after all.
Zero hours and nominal hours contracts - 4, 6, 8, 12-hours-a-week being commonplace - have been systematically used to crush wage rates, using the fear arising from job insecurity to terrorize workers into accepting their lowly position. As an example, one of my family is working for rotten pay in the leisure industry, hired six months at a time, but only after he signed a contract that explicitly bans him from joining a union!
That's why - to help end the atrocities of poverty and inequality, as described by Hammond and Carney - the SSP is battling to abolish zero hours contracts entirely. And not just so governments and employers can gain a cheap propaganda advantage by ending zero hours and instead offering one hour a week, as advocated by Jeremy Corbyn's Labour leadership opponent, Owen Smith. 

For Guaranteed 16-Hour Minimum & 35-Hour Maximum Week 
We are pioneering the demand for a guaranteed minimum contract of 16-hours-a-week for all jobs - only allowing exceptions where a worker, accompanied by their recognized union rep, requests lesser hours to suit their circumstances.
Alongside that, the SSP's crusade for a maximum 35-hour working week, with no loss of earnings - rapidly moving to a 4-day week and 6-hour day - would spearhead radical wealth redistribution, away from private profit to pay. 

Taking the dominant sectors of the economy into democratic public ownership - removing the poisonous pursuit of private profit - would allow society to harness the benefits of robotics, algorithms and the explosion of new technology for working people -  with drastically reduced hours of work, rather than robbery of 15 million UK jobs, as the aforementioned Carney warned of in his same speech.

Socialist Resolution 
Capitalism doesn't work - except for the richest 1%. Capitalism enforces poverty and insecurity for millions, grotesque opulence for the millionaires, and the obscenity of millions suffering mental ill-health through long hours of overwork, whilst millions others suffer the same stresses and strains from not being able to get the hours of work they require to financially survive.

Make a New Year resolution to arm yourself with the facts, arguments and policies to help persuade others to shake off the chains of capitalist exploitation. Resolve to make 2017 a year of advance for the rational, humane, egalitarian alternative of socialist democracy, where hunger, reliance on food banks, and stunted growth of human potential through poverty and inequality, are cast into the past as nightmare memories.

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