When we have just read the Sunday Times Rich List showing the richest 1.000 people in Britain have increased their wealth by30% in the last year alone while real wages over the last 5 years have actually fallen, how can New Labour (which as Mandelson silkily reminded us “is wholly relaxed about people becoming filthy rich”) claim to have anything to do with the Labour Party? Nothing could be more Tory than the obscene ballooning of inequality in the middle of the worst recession for nearly a century. No wonder up to a third of voters are undecided – not wanting the Tories back , but feeling utterly betrayed by New Labour.
And the figures on inequality are now truly staggering. The 1,000 richest Britons are now each worth about £334 million on average. The chief executives of Britain’s top FTSE-100 companies are now each paid about £3.7 million a year on average, or about £71,000 a week. The average paid person in Britain is currently paid £24,000 a year, or £462 a week before tax. The worker on the minimum wage receives just £200 a week. The differential betwen top and bottom is now astronomic, some 355:1.
Why is a supposedly Labour Party not calling for a wealth tax, both on land and property, shareholdings, and all other financial assets? Why have we not pushed for at least a 50% tax on all incomes over £100,000? Why not a permanent levy on the banks to repay all the bail-out Danegeld they have exacted from the taxpayer? Why not a swingeing tax on bonuses above a very modest level? Why don’t we follow through Gordon Brown’s original advocacy of a Tobin tax on all financial transactions by actually imposing it within Britain alone under the CHAPS system if we can’t get international agreement for it?
Is it any wonder that New Labour is struggling in third position? A good third of the population feel, understandably, that there’s no party now representing them in Britain. Another reason for a re-alignment of the Left.