Philip Hammond recently said to Andrew Marr, “Public sector pay raced ahead of private sector pay after the crash in 2008/9 and taking public sector pay, before pension contributions, that gap is now closed, public and private sector pay on average are round about the same.”
This statement by Philip Hammond is a golden nugget, a mini master class on the arrogance of privilege.
Prior to 2010 public sector pay was subject to modest rules, improvements and protections, teachers, nurses and other public sector workers were not getting rich off the fat of the land, running huge investment portfolios or making off with million pound bonuses. They might get cost of living rises, but little more than that. They are just part of the vast body of workers, public and private, who live modest lives on modest means and who keep Britain running, day by day, year in year out.
What they did not do, any more than those struggling in poverty, or disabled people or young or old people, was to crash the global economy. Had they done so it is certain that, unlike the way bankers were treated, the government and the media would have screamed it from the roof tops. Oh, but hang on, they did scream it from the roof tops. Benefit scroungers, work shy and lazy, sleeping off a life on benefits, generations of unemployed, ‘cuts for the poor’, George Osborne cried, ‘how else are we to pay down the debt?’
Private sector wages took a hit after the crash and so, in the words of Hammond, ‘Public sector pay raced ahead of private sector pay’, clever mealy mouthed words which justified cuts to public sector wages to drive them down to match dismal, struggling, private sector wages. A gap which Hammond now proudly announces is closed. Fairness and justice for all, the Tory way.
In the exciting new private sector gig economy, of low pay, no pay, zero hours contracts, we can’t have the public sector undermining the first world free market slide into third world, sweat shop, employment. Globalisation and liberalised markets means everyone must scrabble to the bottom and be grateful if the food banks haven’t run out of food.
And if public sector workers complain, they get told firmly, ‘There’s no magic money tree you know’. Except for the rich, of course, people like multi millionaire Philip Hammond who has never suffered a days austerity in his life.
It is the privilege of the privileged to kick and cull the poor. It is a time honoured tradition, like conkers and casual racism.
No one, but no one, screams louder against social justice than those who profit from injustice, for whom inequality is a way of life and for whom money is the measure of their own worth and who, by dint of their own excessive wealth, demand ever more. They give tax cuts to the rich and arrest beggars on the streets. They own multiple properties and despise the homeless. They have fancy schemes to avoid paying taxes and stash their wealth in tax havens yet hound and prosecute the cash in hand window cleaner as a bad citizen if every penny is not accounted for and taxed.
It would be laughable were it not so stinkingly mean, if Hammond wasn’t really just a grasping crook and a dismal throw back to the days of work houses and gruel for the poor, taking vicious pleasure in flogging the urchin who dares to ask for a penn’orth more gruel.
And the greatest tragedy of all is. after all their lies, of hounding the poor to death, of stealing the food from the mouths of children, finding the food bank empty and facing another horrific week of poverty and despair, Tory propaganda is so successful that vast numbers of the poor go to the polling booth and vote for them. That is the Tories greatest success and the worst travesty of any form of natural justice. Or, perhaps the very worst travesty of all, is the Tories delight in mocking and shaming the deceived poor, laughing and jeering in parliament when they cut their incomes further.
Hidden in Hammond’s weasel words lies a profound truth, in the pursuit of wealth our lives are less than bargaining chips, of less value than wheat or steel or the minerals poverty workers drag from the earth, rather we are expendable stock. They care nothing for the substance of our lives or whether we live or die.
The poor are suffered to exist only to serve the interests of the rich.
KOG. 17 July 1017