The latest list of Britain’s billionaires illustrates why we need a socialist Labour government. Whilst pay and living conditions are stagnant for the many, the super-rich few are getting richer.
According to the TUC, wages have fallen on average by 3.1% in real terms over the last decade. Workers in health, social work and education have suffered a 7.6% real term pay cut. Benefits, social services and school funding have all been slashed. Tory austerity has become a grim nightmare for millions.
Yet, as the 2019 Sunday Times Rich List reveals, for the millionaires and billionaires of Britain it is a very different story. Once again, the super-rich are coining it in. As the list’s compiler, Robert Watts, notes: “On the face of it this looks like a bumper year for the super-rich, with record wealth, more billionaires and the entry level rising to £120m.”
Rich getting richer
Hedge funds continue to be a nice earner, with the top UK fund managers increasing their collective wealth to £18 billion last year. Michael Platt of Belgravia-based BlueCrest Capital remains top of the pile with £3.7bn after his bank balance ballooned by more than £700 million in the last 12 months. Another hedge fund manager, Sir Paul Marshall, according to the Daily Mail, “recently bought an Inner Hebridean island for £1.7m to which he arrived in a helicopter before putting on a champagne reception”.
The top ten richest people in Britain are once again dominated by the usual suspects: wealthy speculators such as Sri and Gopi Hinduja with £22bn; inherited wealth such as Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken with £12 billion of grandad’s money to play with; and assorted dodgy oligarchs such as Alisher Usmanov and Roman Abramovich, each sitting on over £11 billion in assets stolen from the Russian working class. A more parasitic bunch you would be hard to find.
Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, the wealth figures do not include the huge sums secreted away in various bank accounts around the world.
Just how useless the rich are was underlined by the Sunday Times when it noted that “if you wanted to make money it used to be industries and professions such as banking, stockbroking and the law that were your best bet. Not any more. According to today’s Rich List people are making a mint from dating apps, video games and social media platforms.” So much for Britain being the workshop of the world.
Of course there are losers. Philip Green, the destroyer of BHS, is no longer a billionaire. He is stuck on poverty row with a mere £950 million to get by on. This is mainly down to his Arcadia company being deemed ‘worthless’ and the presence of a huge pension ‘black hole’ in his companies. Do not expect the thousands who lost their jobs when BHS collapsed, or those staff who now face getting a lower pension, to shed any tears over this fall from grace.
The rich with their villas, super-yachts and massive holdings are doing just fine it seems, whereas the rest of us are struggling to get by. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was right when he said: “The Sunday Times rich list is a stark reminder of the grotesque inequality that scars our society. Year on year, we see the rich getting richer, while pay for the majority hasn’t risen in a decade and household debt rises.”
Of course, fears of a Corbyn-led Labour government have cast a dark shadow over the partying lives of the UK super-rich. “It’s terrifying,” one star investment manager told a Sunday Times reporter as he “spluttered into his gin and tonic”.
Plans are being laid to head off to Monaco en bloc in the face of ‘Corbygeddon’ it appears. Good riddance will be the response of most workers.
This threat by the bankers and bosses to run off with their money, however, underlines the need for an incoming Labour government to nationalise the banks and major financial institutions, in order to protect against the economic blackmail of the capitalist class.
The bloated fat-cats of the Rich List serve to remind us of the need to fight for socialist policies.