But Labour cannot escape some of the blame for the collapse in workers’ wages. Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson were “relaxed” about people becoming extremely wealthy on their watch – but they were also “relaxed” about working wages stagnating.
When the crash came, it hit the poorest hardest – and the Tories’ austerity hit the poor again, forcing the most vulnerable to pay for the excesses of the rich while bankers, businesspeople and MPs raked in the profits.
Owen Smith has proposed solutions today but they appear to be cosmetic. Offering to restore the 50 per cent tax bracket is just begging for the Tories to recycle an argument they reckon they’ve already won – that lower tax rates bring in more revenue. He’ll be on a hiding to nothing.
His new ‘wealth tax’ is similarly cosmetic. Money needs to be distributed among the population in a more equitable way.
Most importantly, the people need to start seeing through the empty policy promises – of all politicians – and start making educated demands of our own instead.
Britain has suffered a bigger fall in real wages since the financial crisis than any other advanced country apart from Greece, research shows.
A report by the TUC, published on Wednesday, shows that real earnings have declined more than 10% since the credit crunch began in 2007, leaving the UK equal bottom in a league table of wages growth.
Using data from the OECD’s recent employment outlook, the TUC found that over the same 2007-2015 period, real wages grew in Poland by 23%, in Germany by 14%, and in France by 11%. Across the OECD, real wages increased by an average of 6.7%.
The TUC found that between 2007 and 2015 in the UK, real wages – income from work adjusted for inflation – fell by 10.4%. That drop was equalled only by Greece in a list of 29 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The UK, Greece and Portugal were the only three OECD countries that saw real wages fall.
The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, who was a vocal backer of the campaign to remain in the EU, said the figures highlighted the strains on household finances even before the vote for Brexit.
“Wages fell off the cliff after the financial crisis, and have barely begun to recover,” she said. “People cannot afford another hit to their pay packets. Working people must not foot the bill for a Brexit downturn in the way they did for the bankers’ crash.”
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