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Dear Cameron: Here is our Ultimatum. No Wages or Welfare State? No Labour or Taxes.

(45 Posts)
ttosca Mon 24-Feb-14 18:35:53

Dear David Cameron,

If you continue to withdraw our wages and our welfare state, then we will withdraw our labour and our taxes. This is the very simple, and fair, message that needs to be communicated to the Cameron and his crony coalition.

For the sake of fairness, the message should be copied to the entire political class. Because what we are witnessing here is the end game of a neoliberal consensus that has gripped our political, academic and media institutions – and has even crept into our courts. This has been the work of every government since at least Margaret Thatcher from 1979, to the present day.

In the dying embers of World War II, a new social contract was drawn up in Britain. Freedom from poverty was made a right – a condition of citizenship. A person paid their national insurance and their taxes, and was safe in the knowledge that that they would not be made destitute by the vicissitudes of this so-called ‘market’. Furthermore, a person who was physically or mentally unable to participate in the jobs market, would not be abandoned to the mercy of philanthropy, but the responsibility of all.

It was never a pay as you go system on a transaction by transaction basis – I pay this, I get this. Instead, taxes and national insurance for all who could pay, was the price of living in a country where the gap between rich and poor was narrowed, where all children received a free and decent education, where every person had a safe and decent home, where any person was entitled to the best healthcare available when they were sick, regardless of their ability to pay, where you could expect a swift and just response from the police if you were the victim of crime, and a fair trial whether plaintiff or defendant, where roads, buses, trains and other forms of public transport were cost effective, safe and reliable. In short, the price of living in a civil society.

It was also understood that the natural ambitions of corporations to reduce costs and increase profits, versus the worker’s requirement to be fairly compensated for their work – meant an arbiter was needed to balance these conflicting needs. It was agreed that a working person living in poverty and destitution, was unacceptable in our society.

This was our social contract. But while the overwhelming majority of people are still honouring their side of the bargain – the political and corporate class (increasingly, actually the same people), are not.

Just days ago, 48 year old Terry McGarvey was rushed to hospital and died, after dragging himself to an Atos ‘work capability assessment’, through fear he would lose his benefits if he failed to attend. He joins 32 sick and disabled people who are dying each week, under these conditions.

The Justice Minister Chris Grayling, has slashed the Legal Aid budget which guaranteed an equal access justice system. That promise is over. On top of this, Grayling is planning on charging those convicted of a crime £600 for the court costs. The costs payable by a person convicted of a crime should be set by the judge and the legal system, not a politician. With the criminalisation of homelessness, the increase in poverty related crime and the rise of the workfare prison (where prisoners work a 40 hour week for as little as £11) – the coalition is creating conditions of poverty, and then creating ways to profit from it.

The NHS is being carved up into McDonald’s style franchises between the likes of Circle, Serco, Virgin Health and other private providers. Plans are in place for citizens to have the number of GP visits they make each year capped, and to pay £10 per visit. Crippled by the rising price of private loans, profiteering and privatisation – the NHS is buckling under the pressure. And wherever the cracks show, it is the service (the nurses and doctors attempting to keep people well and save lives amidst all this corruption) and not the vultures scoffing at its carcass that gets the blame.

Michael Gove is busy ripping apart the fabric of the national education system, promising greater localism and autonomy while moving powers from Local Education Authorities across the country, to his own office in Westminster.

Young people who leaving school are now faced with an average student debt of £63,000 to attend University, or a jobs market containing zero hours contracts, the fastest falling wages in the western world, a million young people out of work, and workfare.

There is a housing crisis, the result of the abandonment of the social housing policy of the post war period, which sees private landlords charging such exorbitant rents that only 1 in 8 Housing benefit claimants are unemployed. Nowhere is this more painful than the capital, with London rents now consuming more than 50% of people’s income.

I could go on. But I shouldn’t really need to. You know this is happening. It’s happening so quickly, that you can actually watch the pillars of your civil society being knocked down, one after the other. But we cannot simply stand here, mouths agape in horror. We cannot allow ourselves to be torn apart by age group, race, gender or whether we were born here or arrived here. We cannot keep our heads down and hope for ‘better one day’. This is not some sort of storm you can ride out. It is a war that you either join and fight, or acquiesce to, accepting the ever worsening conditions placed upon you by the victors. No. If the political class is no longer honouring the social contract, neither should we. It is time to withdraw the lifelines to this bloated, corrupt and cruel class – a class including men like Iain Duncan Smith; a man who refuses to spend £53 of public money on a person’s Job Seeker’s Allowance, while blowing £39 of public money on his own breakfast.

The system rests on our labour, our taxes and our consent. It is time to withdraw all three. It is time to force the political crisis that already exists into the sunlight. It is time.

Don’t get angry, get involved

Occupy London – get involved with direct action campaigns.

People’s Assembly – join the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and get involved in activism, discussion, education and political action.

None of the Above – join the campaign to vote None of the Above in 2015.

Wave of Action – join the Wave of Action

Do anything, but do something.

Isitmebut Mon 24-Feb-14 20:05:56

Oh dear..All reminiscent of the 1978-80 comedy Citizen Smith, the Tooting Popular Front and its slogan “Power to the people”

DameFanny Mon 24-Feb-14 20:07:36

Way to engage isitme hmm

Viviennemary Mon 24-Feb-14 20:08:42

This all seems a bit complicated. Why not get the Plain English Campaign to give it a makeover.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 24-Feb-14 20:10:04


You write very long rants, but again I find myself agreeing with you.

May I add to your list, that if you are a Scot you may want to consider a "Yes"

VerucaInTheNutRoom Mon 24-Feb-14 20:13:11

It is in plain English and it's not complicated. Does everything have to be dumbed down these days?

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 24-Feb-14 20:17:21

How do we all consistently withdraw our labour and taxes? It's not that easy, should I simply phone my employer tomorrow and say I'm not pitching up? I will be sacked as I have broken my contract. Having conveniently got myself sacked I will no longer be paying income tax but let's suppose I need to put some petrol in my car to get me to the shops to buy some food, I paid fuel duty. Maybe not all the food I buy will be VAT exempt?
I do understand the frustration and anger, there is something rather Marie Antionetteish about the political class, across the whole spectrum, Labour are as bad as the Tories, I simply think they would just replace striking workers with eager immigrants.

lookdeepintotheparka Mon 24-Feb-14 20:30:18

Surprised it's taken so long for people to get angry tbh.

This link has just found its way to me on FB too!

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Mon 24-Feb-14 20:52:59

I am in complete agreement, OP, but also struggle to work out what I can actually do to change the system. I have worked hard for my career, I can't just opt out.

I think we need a true alternative to vote for in the next election.

ttosca Mon 24-Feb-14 21:03:50

You're right, almost nobody can just 'stop working'.

If you join a union you can use your collective bargaining power to stand up for your rights. Joining a union is your legal and moral right. If you're not part of one already, join.

As for voting, please consider any of the alternatives to the three main neo-liberal parties. Seriously. They're all liars and won't keep their manifesto pledges once they get in power. Consider one of the options listed above.

None of the above (And None Of The Above) are not a wasted vote. Voting for the same thing over and over and expecting things to change is a waste of vote (and time).

BackOnlyBriefly Mon 24-Feb-14 21:43:28

I agree essentially with the OP, but I don't see anything we can do either. Voting these days only allows you to choose who will be on the gravy train. You can't vote to stop it. We've created a system that empowers the greedy and uncaring. So guess what? We're ruled by those who are greedy and uncaring.

Demonstrations are one way to tell a government that people are not happy, but I'm quite sure they know already and don't care.

Personally I expect it to get much worse and then eventually break down into violence. Riots that don't end and overwhelm the police. It will just take longer in the UK because our culture makes us willing to endure and hope for better days.

Maybe I'm too pessimistic so good luck to anyone who wants to try other ways.

claig Mon 24-Feb-14 21:51:13

There is only one thing that will solve things - proportional representation.

Bust up the clique who are "all in it together" and ignore the public and make everyone's vote count which will allow new parties full of new people to emerge. This will break the cosy cartel and get closer to reflecting the public's wishes.

It won't happen overnight, so the charade will limp on for a while. But eventually it has to come.

claig Mon 24-Feb-14 22:07:46

Also lots of referenda. At least one a week, so that those who care can vote and decide major policies instead of the clique imposing them.

Isitmebut Tue 25-Feb-14 12:24:36

DameFanny, excuse me but we have been here before …a welfare (or nationalised) state, unrest with the government, the workers to dictate to companies what they earn (before they go bust), and the country going down the toilet – I saw it the first time around.

“The Winter of Discontent refers to the winter of 1978–79 in the United Kingdom, during which there were widespread strikes by public sector trade unions demanding larger pay rises, following the ongoing pay caps of the Labour Party government led by James Callaghan against Trades Union Congress opposition to control inflation, during the coldest winter for 16 years.”

“The failure of Triumph in Speke” – due to corporate/management hatred.

Is this like the Poll Tax Protests, where because the Conservatives bring it out ‘the people’ march in the streets, but when Labour put up Council Tax over 110% whilst in power, ‘the workers’ don’t utter a word?

Welfare costs had grown faster here than in Europe since 2010, and they are cutting theirs faster

Companies have been through the worst recession in 80-years where many had cash flow problems, where the banking system and the capital markets were not functioning in order to raise investment capital, huge unemployment was curtailing consumption/demand and double/triple dip recessions were forecast – so lets please remember that there is no god given right for the private sector to EMPLOY people, or governments to dictate salaries

Government CAN influence take home pay, via lower taxes, but you need a responsible government to control the size and cost of the State, especially state employment.

This IS engaging, in the real world, workers dictating to governments did not work here in the 1970's and early 1980's, it has not worked anywhere else since - that retained a private sector job market.

ttosca Tue 25-Feb-14 18:31:49

Tory MEPs ‘taking food from the mouths of children’

Britain’s food banks have been blocked from claiming millions in EU aid after Tory MEPs voted against the measure in the European Parliament.

Food banksjThe European Parliament voted by a large majority today (592-61) to endorse EU funding which would have resulted in a £3 million fund being made available for food banks in the UK to claim.

The government had previously sought to block the fund in inter-governmental negotiations, and today won a concession in the European Parliament that the money can be used for ‘immaterial’ but not ‘material’ aid. This means in practice that means Britain’s food banks will be prevented from claiming from the £3 million fund allocated to the UK.

Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who helped negotiate the fund, said it “defied belief” that David Cameron’s government had “sought to block a fund for ‘the most deprived’”.

“The cost of this government’s anti-European ideology, coupled with its bitterly felt cost of living crisis, is literally taking food from the mouths of children,” he said.

“The government says measures of this kind are best delivered by individual nations via their own social programmes – yet there aren’t any government plans to aid food banks from national budgets,” he added.

Half a million people received three days emergency food assistance from a Trussell Trust foodbank between April and December 2013, according to the organisation’s latest figures.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 18:42:31

I remember this story when the UK government first challenged it. It is complicated, it is a legal argument about subsidiarity. They do not want to accept the principle of subsidiarity or something over this because it might set a precedent. They want national governments to be responsible for this rather than allowing the EU to use funds to decide on this, I think.

It is not a case of trying to be mean. It is a legal issue about the EU etc.

OTheHugeManatee Tue 25-Feb-14 19:06:02

This all sounds very noble and worthy. But looked at historically the post-war welfare state was a flash in the pan and rallying people to try and rescue it won't work. The post-war settlement was predicated on the mistaken assumption that perpetual growth was possible, thus funding ever-increasing benefits for an ever-increasing population through an ever-increasing tax take.

This assumption has been spiked by three things: a falling birth rate (meaning a steadily increasing proportion of OAPs whose net contribution to tax take is lower if not negative), the gradual realisation that eventually our natural resources will run out, and the march of globalisation, meaning that productivity has stalled, many manufacturing jobs have gone and wages overall have stagnated or gone backwards - all of which chips away at that ever-increasing tax take we need to fund welfare.

I agree with others upthread who say it will get uglier yet. I also agree that there is a democratic deficit in modern UK politics. I don't agree though that harking back nostalgically to what worked in the 20th century will achieve anything except to make people more resentful and frustrated. The conditions that made the 20th century settlement work so well were unique and have since changed out of all recognition.

I don't know what the solution is. (If you can, go into finance with the aim of earning enough to join the elite, or else try to buy land with a water supply. Oh and don't get ill.) I just don't believe that old-style collectivist solutions have much to offer.

ttosca Tue 25-Feb-14 19:19:14

I'm afraid the problem isn't a falling birth rate or aging population, although it's true that these things contribute to the wider cost of social security.

The problem isn't that there isn't enough wealth in the world. The world has never been richer. Nor is it a problem of productivity keeping up with a rising population. Worker productivity has made huge gains in the past few decades.

The problem is one of wealth inequality. The richest 85 people on the plant have as much wealth as the remaining 3.5 Billion. That's right. 85 people own 50% of the world's wealth:

Unless you're a mad conservative blinded by free-market ideology, I'm sure you'll agree that those 85 people didn't earn half the wealth through 'hard work'.

We have massive wealth inequality because our economic system is designed that way. It's designed to make a minority of people very rich by extracting the wealth that they produce.

You'll notice that we always have money for wars, the Queen, to subsidize corporations, to bail out banks, to pay for MPs second homes, etc. but when it comes to Jobseeker's allowance, we say that 'spending is out of control', even though JSA accounts for about 1% of the welfare budget.

Our problems are ideological and systemic. We are not experiencing these problems because there isn't enough wealth per se.

Isitmebut Tue 25-Feb-14 19:46:52

How many of the 85 are leaving virtually all their money to Foundations like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, bearing in mind many wealthy people who give money away through their life & death don't court publicity?

Nations do not formulate national policies around 85 people, and unfortunately most citizens don't believe like in America, ANYTHING is possible if you work for it, starting from school.

Unlike China, India, Japan and even America, where they don't have a welfare state (including NHS), many HERE believe the world owes THEM and theirs a living, and when proven wrong, the State (and taxpayers) say there, there', and provide them with benefits as a way of life.

Once we can say the 'the people' are doing there bit on the equality scale, governments encourage/provide public sector jobs that also pay for the public sector jobs, we can THEN worry about those who studied hard, worked at an idea, sacrificed, risked homes etc, had to put up with incompetent governments, to start up a business. legally paid their taxes due and still made shed loads of money.

ttosca Tue 25-Feb-14 20:02:46

Most of them will not be leaving their money to charity organizations, and that's entirely besides the point.

Stealing people's wealth in the first place and then giving some of it back when you die as charity doesn't making the stealing right in the first place.
If we have a more just economic system where people were actually rewarded for hard work, 85 people would not own 50% of the wealth, and we would have a much more equal distribution of wealth.

> unfortunately most citizens don't believe like in America, ANYTHING is possible if you work for it, starting from school.

Yes, this is the American myth. It was truer in the 1950s. It's not true now. Social mobility has declined a great deal in the US, and now you're better off moving to another country:

The American Dream is supposed to mean that through hard work and perseverance, even the poorest people can make it to middle class or above. But it's actually harder to move up in America than it is in most other advanced nations.

As you read, mobility is directly related to inequality, because richer people will literally buy more opportunities for themselves and their children.

> Unlike China, India, Japan and even America, where they don't have a welfare state (including NHS), many HERE believe the world owes THEM and theirs a living, and when proven wrong, the State (and taxpayers) say there, there', and provide them with benefits as a way of life.

This is complete and utter Tory nonsense. The people fraudulently claiming are a tiny minority. Most people just want to find good work that supports them in life.

Your last paragraph doesn't make sense.

ttosca Tue 25-Feb-14 20:03:45

> It's designed to make a minority of people very rich by extracting the wealth that they produce.

Correction: That we produce.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 20:21:53

'Your last paragraph doesn't make sense.'

Do the other paragraphs? I've read and reread them and I'm none the wiser!

Isitmebut Tue 25-Feb-14 20:47:22

Who are, could be, 'the equality police, and be trusted to decide wealth 'cut off points' that would limit further private sector incentives/risk/employment - and the size of big fat States spending those taxes??

Obvious that rich have more mobility 'options', but not always so obvious they won't become spoilt worthless bits of drugged up shite poncing on their parents for most of their lives.

Less obvious the poor are all helping themselves to potential opportunities, or our education system where over 50% of school leavers can't subtract one item/cost from £100 and get it right, or think that Winston Churchill promotes insurance, is totally unfit for purpose.

You are a stats person, HOW MANY unemployed people are considered totally unskilled, why are they so, and does inequality stats reflect those who'd rather bunk school, turn up but might well not have done, so have a major responsibility for their own lack of social mobility?

My last paragraph is fairly clear, if children and governments do their bit, there will be private sector jobs to go to, that also pays for the State to function as best it can, from cradle to grave.

Incompetent government spending, the driving of private sector jobs and wealth out of the country, makes an education pointless; there is no point providing hundreds of thousands apprenticeship schemes when losing a million manufacturing jobs that existed, never mind have the ability to encourage more to start up, as we did in the 8-years to 2005, through a consumer boom for Christ's sake.

caroldecker Tue 25-Feb-14 21:09:31

If we look at the top richest:

Carlos Slim - Mexican telecommunications - Mexican govt is Socialist
Bill Gates - invented microsoft - not many exploited workers there

Not sure what we should do to make them less rich?

Isitmebut Wed 26-Feb-14 18:01:08

Caroldecker….re your “Not sure what we should do to make them less rich?” – and that excellent point is the $64,000 question. Especially when considering the ‘types’ of mega wealth.

Many mega rich company founders are public companies, so their company stock price related wealth is shared by millions of shareholders e.g. pensioners via pension funds – or if Saudi Arabian or Kuwaiti etc, their relatively small populations have benefited directly by oil wealth filtering down e.g. ex sheep herders now have a home, education, cheap power and in my past experience, a (smelly) taxi cab to make a living.

In the UK, we KNOW that crude tax raids bring in less money, and that in a growing economy bringing tax rates down, increases tax revenues. The coalition IS bringing in more taxes from the wealthy (as the link below shows), but the problem remains that a profligate government will always want MORE taxes for a quangocracy stuffed full of apparatchiks, and also ideologically (as explained in the second link) due to ‘their right’ and spurious ‘moral’ grounds.

“Britain's top earners are now paying almost 30 per cent of all income tax while their income equates to just 10 per cent of the national salary”

“Low earners have seen their income tax bills cut, with the amount people can earn without getting taxed rising steadily to £10,000. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants to raise that further to £10,500.”

“But the top one per cent of earners, who paid 20.8 per cent of all income tax just ten years ago, have seen the proportion they give to the taxman rise.”

“It will be welcome news to the coalition, which faced attacks after lowering the top rate of tax from 50 per cent to 45 per cent.”

“Ponder the graph above. Sixty-nine per cent of Labour supporters would want a top rate tax of 50 per cent even if it brought in no money.”

“Envy is an ugly and debilitating condition, but it seems to have an evolutionary-biological basis. The dosage varies enormously from individual to individual, but even toddlers often display a sense that, if they can’t have something, no one else should either. If they had the vocabulary, they would doubtless, like the 69 per cent of Labour supporters, explain that emotion “on moral grounds”. Few toddlers, and few Labour voters, openly admit to being actuated by vindictiveness.”

“The case against state-enforced equality is not that a narrowing of the wealth gap is in itself a bad thing; it’s that it carries a disproportionate cost in terms of lost prosperity and lost freedom.

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