THE NEW WORKER

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 13th October 2017


Unequal Britain

PRIME Minister Theresa May has been trying to show her ‘human’ side and divert attention from all her other mounting problems by promising action to address the widening inequalities in society in Britain revealed by a Government audit published this week.

The audit exposed the growing differences in the way that people in Britain are treated according to the region they live in, their ethnicity, their gender and their income.

It looked at how different people fared in schools, courts, health services and workplaces, and found, amongst other things, that minority ethnic women have been hardest hit by austerity; black men are far more likely to be jailed by the courts than white men; white teenagers are more likely to smoke than black teenagers; white British children from poor homes do worse at school than black or Asian children, and that Roma children fall way behind all the rest in school.

It is a scandalous situation but not exactly as surprising to those on low incomes as Theresa May thinks. She said: “People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a Government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge. But this audit means that for society as a whole — for Government, for our public services — there is nowhere to hide. These issues are now out in the open. And the message is very simple: if these disparities cannot be explained then they must be changed.”

This is hot air — it is being said at the same time as further cuts and privatisations are being prepared that will make matters worse.

But the figures do reveal that these disparities are linked to people who are generally on low incomes with insecure employment and homes — the real proletariat, those who have nothing to lose but their chains. It as much a class issue as it is a race or gender issue.

Cuts to school staffing and resources lead to large classes and schools that do not have the extra, specialist staff to pick up those pupils who are struggling. And pupils who struggle, who cannot understand what their teachers are talking about, soon get bored and alienated and give up. This is all the more likely if they come from homes where their parents were similarly alienated.

Low income mothers forced to work long hours, sometimes in more than one job, must leave their children with minders. This is why passengers on night bus services in cities will include young mothers of all ethnicities with babies in buggies, toddlers and young schoolchildren on their way home from the minders or their late-night shopping. These schoolchildren will have to be up and awake again in a few hours to go to school where even the brightest will struggle to focus on the lessons because they are just too tired. The recommended bedtimes for children are luxuries for those in well-off families.

Poor children are more likely to suffer from homelessness and being forced to live in temporary accommodation — crowded and often damp and insanitary with no space for homework, let alone play. These children are destined to fail at school and end up in the same insecure, minimum wage, zero-hour jobs that their parents are in now.

Poor people are more likely to get ill and become dependent on an NHS that is steadily being dismantled by the Tories.

Those who cannot find secure jobs and homes are less likely to form stable relationships and have families. Tax cuts for the rich have robbed them of the chance to live what used to be considered a ‘normal life’.

They differ from the Victorian proletariat of Karl Marx’s day in that there are now very few large factories, mines and mills. Most of these insecure jobs that are available are in small workplaces with a continual turnover of staff — difficult to organise but not impossible. The striking workers at McDonald’s last month set an example.

Tory austerity policies have robbed millions of young people of their potential for fulfilment and happiness, and instead have cursed them with permanent anxiety and depression.

It is our job as communists to turn that depression into anger — the organised and united anger of millions of workers against the system that has robbed them of all their joy — in order to overthrow it and establish socialism.