In the first of a short series on fighting the cuts, Neil Faulkner explains that the Con-Dem Coalition is a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.

‘Dave’ Cameron and ‘Nick’ Clegg like to pretend they are regular guys like the rest of us. They are not. Like most of the Con-Dem Cabinet, they are millionaires.

Cameron (worth Ôø°4 million) is descended from aristocrats and bankers, went to Eton and Oxford, and worked as a Tory Party apparatchik and a TV executive before entering Parliament.

Clegg (Ôø°1.9 million) is also descended from aristocrats (Russian ones), his father is a banker, he was educated at Westminster and Cambridge, and he worked as an EU bureaucrat and then an MEP before entering Parliament.

There is nothing regular about Cameron and Clegg. They belong to the British ruling class.

In the Cabinet, they are in good company. Chancellor George Osborne (Ôø°4.6 million) part-owns the family’s luxury wallpaper company. Then there is Transport Secretary Philip Hammond (Ôø°7.5 million), Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Ôø°4.5 million), and Chris Huhne (Ôø°3.5 million).

Altogether, 22 of the 29 Con-Dem Cabinet ministers are millionaires. The Cabinet as a whole is worth Ôø°60 million.

Much of the rest of government is staffed by the rich. Retail billionaire Sir Philip Green has been appointed to advise on ‘efficiency savings’ – making cuts.
Sweatshop labour has helped make Green the 9th richest person in Britain. In 2005, he paid himself Ôø°1.2 billion – the largest single pay award in British history. The money was credited to his wife’s account in Monaco, so he paid no tax on it.

At the same time, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander were delivering speeches about cracking down on tax-dodging by the rich. You could not make it up.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and the rest of the Con-Dem Coalition Government do not represent ‘the people’- they represent the rich. They are a class-based government of the business and financial elite.

Britain has become a far more class-divided society in the last 20 years. Between 1990 and 2008, the number of people worth at least Ôø°5 million doubled, and the number of billionaires tripled.

The average chief executive earned 25 times the pay of an average worker in 1990, but 120 times as much by 2008.

Today, there are around 50 billionaires in Britain and some 250,000 millionaires. With their families, they represent about 2% of the population. The gulf between them and the rest of us is huge. We are not ‘all in it together’.

The rich do not depend on ordinary salaries, wages, or benefits; their income derives from executive pay, bonuses, dividends, and speculation. Their retirement is cushioned by golden handshakes, fat pension-schemes, and income from asset-holdings. They use private schools and hospitals, not public ones.

The British ruling class profits from private capitalism. It has an interest in defending the City and the corporations. It favours privatisation, the ‘free market’, and a casino economy.

This is the class represented by the Con-Dem Government. That is why Osborne cut corporation tax in his budget. That is why his bank levy is a pittance. That is why top salaries and bonuses have been allowed to return to pre-Crash levels. That is why the ‘financial services industry’ is expected to make Ôø°90 billion in profit in 2011.

Profit is the god to which all else must be sacrificed – jobs, wages, pensions, and benefits; housing, schools, hospitals, and colleges; public transport, renewable energy, and other green measures.

If it is a choice between the City and the NHS, the Con-Dem Government of millionaires chooses private profit over public good. Enforcing this choice means launching a class war on the rest of us.

Here, then, is the first reason to fight the cuts. The cuts represent a choice, a class-based choice, to put the interests of the rich, the profiteers, and the speculators ahead of the interests of the great majority.

Neil Faulkner

Neil Faulkner is a freelance archaeologist and historian. He works as a writer, lecturer, excavator, and occasional broadcaster. His books include ‘A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics‘ and ‘A Marxist History of the World: from Neanderthals to Neoliberals‘.