The Super Rich Keep on Getting Richer

We are living in bizarre times. We have just experienced the longest lasting and deepest recession since records began. We know that economic recovery will be fragile at best – the latest GDP figures this week indicated a paltry 0.2% increase. The overt fiscal strengthening proposals of all the London parties – with their cuts worse than Thatcher – in my view promises a double dip recession at UK level which will be particularly severe in areas such as Wales and a cull of key services the vulnerable are dependant upon. We also know that there is always a lag between any eventual return to economic growth and the true human cost of recession. Unemployment, debt problems, housing repossession levels will all increase over the next Parliament. With £1.4 trillion of personal debt circulating in the UK, an incredible sum which equates to around 100% of GDP, ordinary working people are up to their eye balls in debts they can’t service. Yet despite all this gloom, today’s Sunday Times Rich List indicates that the super rich have seen their fortunes soar by 30% last year alone.

The richest man in the UK, and Labour party donor, Lakshmi Mittal, has seen his fortune incredibly double in one year alone. The list includes city bankers and speculators that have had to be bailed out by the tax payers.

Individual and regional wealth polarisation has been one of the most defining characteristics of the New Labour years. In accepting Thatcherite economic doctrine they have done the work of the political right for them and betrayed the communities such as mine which spawned the Labour movement. It is little surprise that every day on the doors of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr traditional Labour voters are pledging their political future to Plaid.

Considering what’s around the corner in terms of public investment cuts based on the declared proposals of the London parties, it is obscene that the super rich are recession proofed. If these are tough times then we should all be in it together, and the super rich should pay more than their fair share.

When the London parties talk about securing economic recovery, what they are talking about is preserving a system that exacerbates inequality; that protects the wealth and status of the economic elite; and does not work in the interests of traditional producing economies such as Wales.

None of the London parties have proposed the sort of measures that would be needed to change the UK from one of the most regressive taxation measures in the EU to its most progressives. That has been left to Plaid. (I have blogged elsewhere outlining our proposals). The Lib Dems to be fair offer some ideas that we agree with such as raising the lower band, harmonising capital gains tax with income tax, removing tax relief from pension contributions for higher earners. However, they refuse to seriously promote redistribution by directly targeting higher earners. If I ever earned £100,000 per annum I’d be more than happy to pay 50% tax on earnings above that level.

Addressing individual and regional inequality should be one of the key issues at this election. Unfortunately the political class in London remains firmly in the grips of the economic establishment. Vote London parties – get business as usual.

6 Responses to “The Super Rich Keep on Getting Richer” [latest first]

  1. Cytuno cant y cant. Crynodeb ardderchog.

  2. But how will an independent Wales, as Plaid advocates, change this economic inequality? Individualism on a national scale causes economic inequality just as individualism within a state does. Without a single government there is no means to effectively redistribute wealth so unfairly concentrated by capitalism, which is why internationalism was a prerequisite to the original socialist ideology. This is primarily why Plaid’s core ideas – independence from Britain and socialism, are at conflict with each other.

    And £1.4 trillion is more like 50% of GDP (about £2.6 trillion), not 100%.

  3. Comondante,

    very interesting comment. clearly an autonomous Wales would have power over the key leavers to shape Welsh society. Clearly fiscal powers and welfare powers would allow the Welsh Government to redistribute wealth. In terms of the figures, i fear you have calculated the UKs GDP in US dollers. The greenback of course is the currency used internationally to calculate the GDP of various states. I was using sterling.

  4. Ah, yes, an embarrassing mistake on my part there, apologies.

    But on the main point, I understand that an autonomous Welsh government would probably mean greater wealth distribution within Wales. But that’s my point – I don’t care just about Wales, I care about inequality between all humans. Without a single government, the inequalities between Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will get larger. As you said you’d be more than happy to pay 50% tax for earnings over £100,000, why should that money not be redistributed to some poor child in Scotland or England or Northern Ireland, rather than simply a poor child in Wales?

    This is why I sadly feel inclined to not vote Plaid despite greatly admiring their radical leftist policies, anti war stance and support towards the Welsh language. As much as I count myself Welsh and reflect positively on this, I hold economic solidarity with all people.

  5. I understand your position and admire your consistency of thought. However, the global political system continues to be based on a nation state model. AS long as that continues I will campaign for equality for Wales as nation and social and economic equality within our nation. I’m convinced that the promortion of social justice and prosperity for our people is linked with the growth of Welsh political democracy and sovereignty. In building our better Wales we could build a political and economic system for all other countries to follow.

  6. great post as usual!

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