Two current statistics: Britain has the tenth biggest economy in the world, according to IMF: and one in 7 British households (around 11 million people) lack food security, according to Trussell Trust, which organises a majority of our food banks.
If you don’t see something institutionally disgraceful in that, then you must be blind. People rightly talk about the “metropolitan elite” and its disconnection with the common people of the land. Apparently our average standard of living is worse than the state of Mississippi and around on a par with Poland. It’s true that our economy is built on debt rather than actual assets, but that debt is certainly not owned by the ordinary people – just owed through the tax burden and borrowing to get by.
Nearly every burning issue and official policy that fills our newspapers looks vaguely obscene when the Trussell Trust’s stats are added in.
“Bank of England raises interest rates again … but 11 million people still have to choose between food and heating.”
“We must continue to support Ukraine militarily and financially for as long as it takes… even though many of our own people are forced to use food banks.”
“Pay rises must be affordable, and strikes are selfish… but James Dyson must get unique tax-breaks for the lucrative ventilator contract he was awarded, though none were delivered and 3,000 UK employees were sacked during COVID.”
“I don’t actually have any working-class friends, but food-insecurity is just a talking point of ignorant far-right conspiracy theorists.”
“The New World Order is all about diversity, inclusiveness and equality, so let’s slash the tyres of the food-bank bigots protesting against ULEZ.”
You get the idea. But I fear we have become such a polarised and uncritical society that most of us, or at least the kind of people who read blogs like this, make no connection between the news and the struggles of an increasing number of people. Living as I do in the rural southwest, there are plenty of employment and housing issues. But as a matter of demographic fact, most of the caring folks at my church are older retirees on decent pensions, or professional people, and it is common to hear remarks like, “We’re a rich country, so why shouldn’t people come here from Africa to make a better life for themselves?”
One answer is obvious: because the money being printed to throw at every issue, including illegal immigration, is causing the very inflation that is making housing, transport, heating and eating increasingly difficult for an increasing number of the indigenous people. Another answer is, of course, that those spending thousands to people traffickers for a better life will here, inevitably, end up not amongst the class gathering most of that enviable (though diminishing) GDP, but amongst those using the food banks.
In fact, there is a plausible school of thought that sees this as deliberate – unskilled foreign workers will take jobs at below a living wage, thus increasing unemployment amongst native-born folk and keeping wages down for all. And don’t forget, the “affordability” argument for low pay is negated by that first statistic – if low pay is the norm in the tenth biggest economy, then the people at the top must be reaping grossly disproportionate rewards.
The situation is the same in the second biggest economy in the world, the US, and the causes are pretty much identical. I could point you to the viral YouTube hit by a Virginia ex-factory worker, but for more depth check out the interview of JFK, Jnr, by Tucker Carlson.
The same IMF table, if you were unaware of it, has shown that the fifth biggest economy in the world, and the largest in Europe, is Russia (Only France and Germany of EU countries are still in the top ten) – which was supposed to be destroyed by sanctions that have actually caused inflation and poverty in the Western nations instead. But we should remember that the City is still doing very well here, probably even from the sanctions and certainly from the arms sales – it is the poorer population that is bearing the brunt of the warmongers’ incompetence, or self-interest.
“The poor you will always have with you,” as the Lord said. And there will always be inequalities in society. But the UK has one of the worst wealth disparities in Europe, and probably the world, and the gap is getting wider. Such situations never continue forever, because the poor eventually identify who is stealing their wealth, and turn on them through the ballot-box, or through the pitchfork and lamp-post if that fails.
Meanwhile, I just wish those of us who are doing reasonably OK – and therefore are likely to be hanging economically on the coat-tails of the most rapacious tyrants in the land, would realise how things stand, by declining to insulate ourselves from the cries of the marginalised.
And I don’t mean by that the fashionably marginalised, who seem to manage quite comfortably as well.