Working Class? Who me?
The majority of people in the UK saw themselves as ‘working class’ at one time. The class structure of society was clear, the doctors, teachers and administrators were middle class, the aristocracy was upper class and the people who did the real work were working class. Now it’s more confused.
Thatcherism set working class people against working class people. Coal pits were closed and here in the Black Country industry disappeared to be replaced with retail parks. We became a nation of shoppers with credit cards and mortgages. People bought their own council homes and added white plastic extensions to them and thought of themselves as middle class. New Labour recognised this and appealed to this ‘new class’ of property owners. They adopted Conservative and Liberal principles. Private finance was now acceptable and the rich were no longer the enemy within. It all went horribly wrong because they didn’t fully understand economics and the people can’t pay all the money back they borrowed and neither can the government. The live now, pay later experiment failed. But it’s OK, money isn’t real wealth. Real wealth is water, oil, gas, bricks and mortar and the rich still own most of those. Who is to blame for the mess. Yes, the great unwashed; benefit claimants. We have to blame someone and they are like the new working class.
Britain is now divided and a new class, the so called precariat are the new underclass. In Victorian Britain the pawnbroker loaned money to the poorest people and when they had nothing to pawn, the workhouse was the only place for them. The interest rate for borrowing a shilling for a few days could work out to over 1,000%, not quite as high as the present day pay-day loan from Wonga; but still extortionate. There are no workhouses now, just hostels and food banks.
While some people have to pay 5,000% for a loan, others get really low interest loans to buy property or even buy property to let to benefit claimants. People are making money out of this recession and buy to let like pay-day loans is very lucrative. How are those people who joined the lower middle classes in the Thatcher era faring now? They have low interest mortgages, but how will they fare after years of low or no pay rises when interest rates rise and debts are inflated away? It has to come, the government needs an economic miracle before the next election and saving a couple of billion on the benefits bill just won’t do it. A couple of billion won’t even pay for HS2!
Will we have an alternative when the next general election comes? It looks likely to be a hung parliament again, as Labour adopts similar policies to the Lib-Dems and the Tories. At least UKIP came out against HS2 this week, that has to win them some votes. Cameron wants to get a fervour going about bombing Syria, but the public are in no mood for war. We’re had enough of Iraq, Afghanistan and the whole middle East. The only thing that will make fracking more acceptable is it will make us more independent for gas and oil. Lets hope we don’t waste it like we wasted north sea oil.
What do you think? If someone tells you we need to solve these issues with a robust solution at the end of the day. That means they don’t have a bloody clue… Please share your views and ideas in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter.
- The trouble with us. (susandmillward.wordpress.com)
- No, Jamie Oliver, working 100 hour weeks is not pukka, it’s exploitation (newstatesman.com)
- Working-Class Renegades and Loyalists (workingclassstudies.wordpress.com)