by Robert Griffiths
According to a Special Branch report in 1942, general secretary Harry Pollitt criticised left-wing MP S.O. Davies at a clandestine meeting of Communist Party trade unionists.
S.O. had addressed a rally demanding that the wartime ban on the Daily Worker be lifted, bitterly attacking his Labour colleague Herbert Morrison, then Home Secretary in Britain’s coalition government.
Pollitt argued that this ferocious verbal assault had prompted Miners Federation of Great Britain leaders to disown their sponsored MP for Merthyr Tydfil and endorse the ban.
‘Personal abuse has been our stock-in-trade for twenty years and it has got us nowhere. It has got to stop’, Pollitt reportedly told his comrades.
This policy may now have to be reconsidered.
After all, what language should be used when talking about Tory and LibDem ministers and MPs who are causing people like Nicholas Barker to kill themselves? The semi-paralysed former farm labourer committed suicide last December after having his disability benefit withdrawn.
These same parliamentarians have handed £175bn to the bankers and speculators in ‘Quantitative Easing’, but think it vital to save £3bn in disability welfare payments.
In 2011, they commissioned a review of Remploy factories from KPMG, the auditors who gave a clean bill of health to bailed-out bank HBOS just before the financial crash. KPMG are currently being investigated by the FBI over insider trading and have already paid $500m in fines and settlements for accountancy fraud and tax evasion.
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority is reporting on the HBOS scandal this autumn. FCA chair and multimillionaire, John Griffith-Jones, will doubtless be fiercely objective in the finest tradition of British official inquiries. He chaired KPMG when it failed to spot the reckless loans and bad debts that brought HBOS to its knees in 2008.
Can we find a polite Anglo-Saxon word to describe his sort?
In March 2012, KPMG duly delivered the goods for its client, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, classifying dozens of Remploy workplaces as ‘not viable’.
After a series of government announcements designed to demoralise, divide and give false hope to the workforce, 34 Remploy centres have closed and 7,000 workers with disabilities thrown on the scrap-heap. All to save £25m a year.
Meanwhile, millionaire Defence Secretary Philip Hammond wants to buy 48 F-35 military jets at £100m each, while raiding the education and health budgets for £500m.
Duncan Smith lives in a £2m five-bedroom Buckinghamshire mansion, but thinks that anyone needing Housing Benefit in social or council housing should be penalised for having a spare bedroom.
Then there’s their LibDem colleague, former ‘investment banker’ (in honest English: City speculator) David Laws. He lost his Cabinet post after claiming £40,000 for rent supposedly paid to a secret lover, while also owning his own London flat, a constituency house and a holiday home in Provence.
Now Laws is back as Education Minister, helping to hand over England’s schools to state-subsidised companies and religious cranks.
So what collective noun should be applied to the 18 millionaires in a Cabinet of 29 who think that unemployed workers, the low paid and most public servants should have their incomes cut every year? A drift of swine?
One of the 18, a beneficiary of inherited wealth who likes to lecture the proles about hard work and boot-straps, shed a tear at the military state funeral of Baroness Thatcher last month.
Is there an entry in Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English to sum up the likes of George Osborne, the axe-wielding Chancellor who weeps not for the unemployed, the disabled or the single parent? A colony of weasels doesn’t quite do it.
Nor was Osborne crying for the young women students raped by torturers serving General Pinochet, Maggie’s best mate. Or for the defenestrated victims of fellow mourner P.W. Botha’s apartheid regime. Or for the millions maimed and murdered in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia at the command of another guest, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
How best to sum up that congregation? A wake of buzzards?
Thatcher’s disciples also include her former press chief Sir Bernard Ingham. He told bereaved parents that Liverpool should ‘shut up’ about Hillsborough because ‘tanked-up yobs’ had killed their children.
Is there a categorisation low enough for him and fellow slanderer, ex-Sun editor Sir Kelvin Mackenzie? A cackle of hyenas?
In July 1948, NHS founder Aneurin Bevan told his Manchester audience:
‘No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation’.
Not only was this unfair to the hard-working rodent community. It also focused too narrowly on Tory politicians.
Behind them stand their paymasters, the main beneficiaries of a capitalist system built on exploitation, oppression, war and lies – the tax-dodging parcel of hogs in the banking, energy, armaments, food, pharmaceutical and other monopolies screwing ordinary people into the ground.
Here are the 10 per cent of the population who own two-thirds of all the personal and corporate wealth in Britain and its overseas tax havens.
This ruling class and its hirelings have unleashed naked class war on the workers and peoples of England, Scotland and Wales.
International Workers Day 2013 must mark the beginning of the most uncompromising resistance. Solidarity with teachers, public servants and all other workers taking action is more vital than ever.
Rallying around the alternative economic, social, environmental and peace policies of the People’s Charter will give people confidence that there is an alternative to austerity and privatisation in Britain and the EU.
Above all, the labour movement should be pressing the case for price controls, public ownership and progressive taxation.
And the huge People’s Assembly in London on June 22 could help launch a mass, militant, popular movement that unites trade union, community and political bodies in a fight to clear the nest of Tory and LibDem vipers out of office in Downing Street.
Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist party and a contributor to 21centurymanifesto
Georg Grosz, Pillars of Society 1926 depicts the corrupt and venal social elite of Weimar Germany.