Monday 10 August 2015.
Dear Mr Cameron,
In 1957 Harold Macmillan said, ‘You will see a state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime – nor indeed in the history of this country. Indeed let us be frank about it – most of our people have never had it so good.’ As a family we had yet to see this state of prosperity but I remember the 60’s well and they were full of optimism, there was a music revolution going on, I became a hippy and have fond memories of South Kensington Market buying ‘Loons’, tee shirts, an Afghan coat and a ridiculous pair of maroon platform boots. We took health care and regular visits to the dentist for granted and even gained a fridge although the family home didn’t see a television until a year or so after I’d flown the nest.
In March 1957 Ghana became the first Black African nation to gain independence from the UK, predictably for a Tory, Macmillan said, ‘The pattern of the Commonwealth is changing and with it is changing Britain’s position as the Mother Country. Our children are growing up.’ Thus he painted the picture of a benign empire and Commonwealth, which was anything but, in fact, as Hans Rosling reveals in his examination of world data, no colonised country began to prosper until they gained independence. Not so much growing up as ousting the invaders who had plundered their resources.
Perhaps. with hind sight, we should have taken Macmillan’s proclamation as a warning shot across our bows not to get used to it. Come the Thatcher years the start of the great decline began, from 1975 onwards wages have been in sharp decline, along with industry and the great push to privatise state owned assets like water, electricity, rail, gas, Royal Mail, the steel industry, buses and many, many more. Now we have Osborne planning to eclipse the Thatcher years with the biggest sale of national assets in a single year.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that people are turning their spleens inside out as Jeremy Corbyn talks about public ownership and Clause 4. What is this terrible Clause 4 that threatens to cast us back to the stone age? “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”
Oh my great Grannies moth balls, that’s utterly horrendous! No wonder every Tory and Tory Lite across the way is having apoplectic fits. That has the disgusting smell of social justice and fairness about it without profits being siphoned off into the hands of shareholders and Directors million pound pay packets and bonuses. It could mean the end of the neoliberal, free market, vulture capitalism world as we’ve unfortunately come to know it. Oh good.