Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The History Of All Hitherto Existing Society...

These 7 words have resonated with Labourites for decades. And the 6 words that follow them send the blood pumping through the left-winger's veins.

It was in 1848 that Marx and Engels opened the first chapter of the Communist Manifesto, Bourgeois and Proletarians, with that explicit, direct and assured phrase. A phrase that, when heard, makes total sense. You almost needn't read the rest of that book:

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles"

It can sound old-fashioned. When we read the history books, it's clear that class struggle did exist, but it's something we look back on. We see photos of the upper classes waltzing the streets and then images of the poor in the workhouses. And then we think of the 1980's; a time where class struggle was rife and Thatcher's political war with the unions divided the nation.

But that was history.

Centrists and centre-right folk will say class no longer matters. And some Labour people may have been inclined to agree as support for the poor has grown. Even though the gap between rich and poor has got bigger in this country, that bottom, basic level of support has undoubtedly got more substantial and humane.

But today, for those who were in any doubt that class mattered in 2010, David Cameron showed that the Conservative Party will always be a party that favours its own class over the working class. The Prime Ministers topic for today's PM Direct showed that class struggle is right back on the agenda.

Cameron has attacked benefit fraud which, alone, is right. People who wrongfully claim welfare should be punished, of course. Cameron said,

"There are some people who are claiming welfare who are not entitled to it and that is just wrong and that should stop."

Again: totally right. So what's the problem?

Firstly, I have a problem with this £5.2 billion figure being used. Because the first disgusting thing about Cameron's slight on the working class today was how he kept banding around the £5.2 billion figure that is lost through "benefit fraud". Read the small print (or just read anything other than the headline) and you'll see that only £1 billion of that is fraud. Indeed, over £3 billion is down to official error, yet that is being grouped into this £5.2 billion figure and referred to as "benefit fraud".

Secondly, and more importantly, why isn't Cameron speaking about something that costs this country a lot more money than benefit fraud? Tax evasion, white-collar fraud, costs the country over £15 billion a year compared to benefit fraud which costs us just over £1 billion. If a PM Direct session was completely dedicated to benefit fraud, surely Cameron should be dedicating another session to an issue that is costing fifteen times more than benefit fraud?

Of course, he won't be. Partly because it won't serve to please The Sun and the Daily Mail who get lustful thoughts when they hear Government officials criticising benefit fraud. And partly because the people who evade tax are those who can afford the accountant to fiddle their accounts. They are the upper middle classes; the business elite. They are the people the Tories rely on for votes, money and champagne receptions. They are the non-dom peers and the ginger Capital Gains Tax-dodgers in the Treasury who think nothing of their crimes but berate the underclass and working class for committing crimes that account for fifteen times less financial loss for this country.

And what else has Cameron's government done? Cut Child Tax credits whilst decreasing Corporation Tax. Increased VAT whilst doing barely anything to reclaim money from the banks that we, the people, saved from collapse. Allowed rich parents with free time to take their children out of schools to set up their own elite schools whilst the run-down, arse-end facilities in the state system are allowed to rot as the Building Schools for the Future programme get's abolished.

These are all attacks on the underclass and attacks on the working class. They are no different to Thatcher's political, ideological attacks on the working class in the 80's. And they are no different to the careless, shameful actions of pre-Welfare State governments that locked the poor up in workhouses. Labour governments have ensured that normality has progressed. But now, as they always do, the Tories are back to try and take society backwards again.

Class struggle, entrenched in the history of all hitherto existing society, is back.


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