Divide and Rule

STOP PRESS 20/10/14: This week the Social Integration Commission reported that our society is becoming ever-more divided between the rich and the poor. It said this trend was leading to more gated communities, higher crime, and racial ghettos; and that although this situation should never be allowed to occur, it was happening because successive governments were ignoring the problems of poverty and increasing inequality. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/rising-crime-racial-ghettos-price-4466671 Already in some appartment blocks in London there are separate entrances for the rich and the poor. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2714809/The-poor-door-Block-flats-separate-entrances-property-owners-housing-association-tenant-neighbours.html

STOP PRESS 2/10/14: At the Tory Party Conference this week it has been announced there will be pension changes which will enable the very wealthy to pass on even more of their inheritance to their children, and tax cuts which will disproportionately benefit the well-off: all of which will be funded by a freeze on benefits and continuing Austerity. The Tories are cynically continuing to bribe their so-called ‘core’ voters, with no concern for the hardship they will cause to everyone else.

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George Osborne: A good budget – if you’re already well-off. Picture © M. Holland

This week’s budget has laid the ground for where our political parties, and indeed our society, is headed over the next few years. The budget was actually very well put-together, if the objective of the Tory Party is simply to secure enough votes to get itself elected again, and not to create a better society for us all.

In our current – deeply flawed – political system, all a party needs to do to get a majority in parliament, and so form a government, is secure about 37% of the vote. There are two ways they can do this – either produce a manifesto which they believe is good for the country as a whole, and hope that 37% of the people agree with them; or produce a manifesto that specifically benefits around 35-40% of the population, and let the rest go hang. Guess which option the Tories are going for? As the party of the well-off they  have produced policies which benefit wealthy pensioners (scrapping annuities); people with lots of spare cash (making ISA’s more attractive); and of course the usual round of tax breaks for businesses. At the other end of society – people whose votes they don’t care about – they’re pushing ahead with benefits caps and of course the whole agenda of Austerity.

Free-market Capitalism inevitably leads to ever greater inequality and consequently an ever more divided society. Therefore as time goes on any political party which supports this economic system, will have to decide which part of our divided society it caters for (as it becomes impossible to produce policies which benefit everyone), and ignore the needs of everyone else. The Tories are inevitably targeting the wealthiest end of society. Some people might say they have always done this but that’s actually not true – Margaret Thatcher for example secured her massive majorities on a wave of Tory working class votes (something unlikely to be repeated now). Some people may look to the Labour Party for answers, but unfortunately, despite making favourable noises occasionally on things like energy prices, fundamentally they support  our current economic system, and therefore nothing will really change with them either (in fact they actually agree with the Tories on most economic policies anyway, and also don’t forget that people voted for Blair as a replacement for the Tories last time and look where that led!) The fact is nothing is going to get any better until we change our entire democratic and economic system, and that’s not going to happen with any of the main political parties or current batch of politicians. We need change, and only an upswelling of popular discontent will bring it.

For more on the inherent problems of the free-market capitalist system click here. And for more on how we might be able to start changing things for the better click here.

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