I was talking to a young lad last week and trying to help him get into a better position to find work. Like most of his peers he had received a sub standard education, been given little or no constructive help and, one way or another, had been exploited most of his life. He had worked for two years packing Xmas cards for a company which he described as ‘a bit shady’ for 50+ hours a week and on the minimum wage. Routinely subjected to verbal abuse and threats by his employers he had eventually been sacked for coming in late one morning. During the course of our conversastion he casually mentioned his take home pay and it set alarm bells ringing so I worked out what he should have been getting. It took me two minutes to calculate that he had been underpaid by over £5,000 whilst there and my suspicions were confirmed when he told me that he had been given hand written pay slips which contained neither his tax code nor national insurance number. In short, he had been underpaid and the parasitic lice who employed him had not even had the good grace to pay his tax and national insurance. They knew he was desperate, semi-literate and vulnerable so had reacted the only way that capitalists know how. They had shafted him.
That scenario is repeated with frightening regularity throughout this nation. He was one of fifteen employees all presumably hand picked as potential victims and all robbed blind. The owneres have long since closed down the operation and no doubt set up elsewhere. They had ‘big, fancy cars’, were ‘loaded’ and clearly living the high life. They will be feted by the ruling classes as shining examples of the eternal beauty of capitalism . They are allowed to get away with it because Thatcher castrated the Unions, the press is controlled by rabid right wingers and Toryism has a complicated definition of crime. Nick a pair of trainers out of a looted shop window and you will be slopping out for six months, steal thousands of pounds in the name of personal greed and you are a captain of industry.
The saddest, most depressing aspect of this wicked tale is his own reaction. He shrugged, laughed and essentially decided that that is how life is for him and his friends. The cards are so loaded aginst him that it is only to be expected. We have bred a generation of people who are so cowed, kicked and beaten by these bastards that they have given up on defending themselves. They are even resigned to working for nothing for billionaire supermarket owners.
He vaguely knew that we have a Tory government and that ‘they are all twats’, some progress then, but had no concept of resisitance. He votes Labour because ‘its Liverpool’ but had no faith in them or any sense that they cared about his plight. Ed Milliband would do well to meet him and then exile himself from public life out of pure shame. I asked him and those around him in a similair position, why they thought that they were in this position. Without exception they all blamed their fate on some vague concept of ‘its all the immigrants’. They have been getting fed that shameless lie since they could walk. I had to leave the room because I was shaking with anger, frustration and a crushing sense of impotence.
The left needs to remember this lad and the millions like him, stop squabbling, unite, organise and fight back. Until we start to provide a tangible, effective resistance then we are complicit in what is going on. We must investigate and expose corruption, excess and deceit and we must force the scavengers to face the consequences of their action. Educate the rank and file, provide real leadership and don’t be afraid of inciting media criticism. Start of by clearing the Trade Union movement of its right wing, reactionary, self interested leadership and organise a campaign of large scale industrial unrest. Contradict the great lie about debt and how we all have to find cuts. We do not have to find cuts. There are billions salted away by the banks for investment, billions more in offshore accounts and the same again is avoided in tax annually. Stop closing day centres, nurseries, schools and libraries and make the wolfpack, feral money men pay for their own mess. Nationalise all of the utilities, our utilities, and put the City into public ownership. They will bleat and scream and threaten but we will beat them.
We are cornered, battered and bruised and it feels like we are at deaths’s door but we aren’t. We are many and angry and they are few and weakened by excess. The Labour Party has abandoned us, Murdoch’s media demonise us and our enemies are now openly sharpening their knives. There is nowhere else left to run away. Stand up, dust ourselves off and fight for lads like the one in this story, for our own futures and for the futures of the generations to come.