Thursday, 2 February 2012

On 'Class War'

OK - so it's a bit 'over the top' - but it needs saying!

This Rant is to comment on the media storm which has blown up over Ed Miliband’s ‘class war’ statement in PMQs yesterday.

It has been seized upon as a ‘foot-in-mouth’ moment. Nick Robinson of the BBC has commented: ‘he may come to regret that reference’ and Dan Hodges has lambasted it as Ed’s ‘Che Guevara’ moment.
Since it is not what these things are, but what they are perceived to be, which is the issue, it may well turn out to be Ed’s undoing, but – if it is – it will be really unfair.

First, let’s get the story straight
First of all, I think we need to look at what Ed really said. Having established that the Tories were not going to publish bankers' salaries or put an employee on remuneration committees, he mocked the idea that the Tories could ever hold to their promise to restrain bankers’ privileges:

“I think we've now heard it all. Because he says that the class war against the bankers is going to be led by him and his cabinet of millionaires. I don't think it's going to wash.”

Thus he explicitly was NOT claiming that he, Ed Miliband, was going to lead a class war, but was mocking the Tories’ (inferred) claim that THEY would wage a class war against bank bonuses and errant knights.
To hoist Ed upon the petard he had prepared for Cameron would indeed be unfair!

Who’s waging a class war against whom, here?
But my second reaction was more aggressive.

Why is it that the press ‘go off on one’ to such an extent when the words ‘class war’ merely pass the lips of Labour’s leader?
‘You said class war, you said class war!’ – it’s like a playground chant set up to browbeat the geek who has dared to speak up against his bullies. ‘You did! You said class war!’

It is REALLY a ‘class war’ to suggest that failed bankers do not deserve to get in one year’s bonus more than an ordinary working man earns in a lifetime of graft?

The REAL Class War
I’ll tell you what ‘class war’ is:

Class war is passing a Welfare Reform Bill that will impoverish severely disabled children, force old ladies with spare bedrooms to leave their homes, require terminal cancer patients to be available for work, and requires abandoned mothers to pay to make their husbands support their children.
Is that not a ‘class war’?

Class war is decades of the rich getting logarithmically richer whilst ‘normal’ remuneration fell in real terms. Of an austerity package which allows those at the top to take ever-larger salaries and bonuses, yet confines hospital cleaners and care workers to a pay freeze. Of a decision which forces young people, who have not yet had the chance to earn a penny, to borrow £9000 a year to complete their education. Of cuts in public sector worker pensions, whilst leaving a disgraced knight his £340,000 p.a.
Is that not a ‘class war’?

Class war is decades of antagonism towards any Trade Unions which seek to defend their members’ rights, mounting to a frenzy of spleen if ever they dig in their heels against the latest downgrade.
Is that not a ‘class war’?

And what about manoeuvring to buy a new royal yacht whilst imposing draconian austerity cuts on the unemployed and the disabled?
Is that not a ‘class war’?

As Mehdi Hasan notes in his blog today, there is a decided 'leftwards' move in public attitudes to the super-rich and the over-highly paid.
So, I repeat – is it REALLY a class war to suggest that failed bankers do not deserve to get in one year’s bonus more than an ordinary working man earns in a lifetime?


The simple truth is that, like idiots, we have sat quiet for three decades whilst an undeclared ‘class war’ has been waged against us.
We have allowed ourselves to mistake X-boxes and i-phones for wealth, and a system of redistribution for equity and justice.
And now we find that even the little we had is being taken away, because when the sh*t hit the fan in 2009, we were daft enough to vote for a set of millionaires who promptly decided that the best people to pay for the mess they had created were … us!

Class War?
Class War?
I think we should best leave off talk of a class war.

Or we might just show you a class war you won’t believe…

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