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Keep kicking the “undeserving rich” – the message is getting through

According to the Spectator, politicians on all sides are increasingly concerned about the “undeserving rich”. It seems they are posing “a particular problem for David Cameron”, which makes it “imperative that Cameron takes on this group” or “public revulsion” will drive the country to the Left. The Tories have a pretty hazy idea exactly who the undeserving rich are, but they do know they’re not just Russian oligarchs and the families of Middle Eastern despots. Quite a lot of them are bankers. And so are quite a lot of Tory MPs.

We haven’t got much to lose with this line. It’s time to get seriously unrelaxed about the filthy rich.

The Spectator identifies the dangers posed by the undeserving rich as these:

  • First, they cut against his “we’re all in this together” rhetoric.
  • Second, they make it politically more difficult to do some of the things that are necessary to get the economy moving again. For instance, the behaviour of the undeserving rich make it far harder for the government to scrap the 50p rate which hits the far more numerous deserving rich, the acceptable faces of capitalism who represent this country’s best chance of returning to prosperity, just as hard as it does the undeserving rich.
  • Finally, the undeserving rich are undermining support for capitalism and helping create an anti-success, left-wing mood in the country.
  • The Left will be much more sceptical about this “far more numerous deserving rich”, but we shouldn’t duck the debate about the definition of “deserving”, of “legitimate means” to acquire wealth. This is fertile ground indeed. What rules should apply, for example, to how they treat their workers? To their impact on the environment and the communities in which they operate? To whom should they be accountable?

    And of course, they should in any case be paying a fairer share of what they earn in taxation as some of them admit, and as long as tax havens survive and the myriad of other loopholes, the claim of the “deserving rich” will be hard for the Tories to argue. George Osborne may talk of “‘leeches’ who dodge their taxes” and “the bankers who went back to paying themselves mega-bonuses only years after being saved from going bust by the taxpayer“, but the reality is, like the latest Swiss con-trick, that he’s facilitating their avoidance of fiscal and social responsibility.

    And just just how credible are the Tories on this subject? If bankers are toxic, so are Tory MPs. More than a quarter of all Conservative MPs and peers have held jobs in banking or the financial sector, revealed a Daily Mirror investigation: seventy of the party’s 305 MPs, and more than a third of the 193 Tory peers. And don’t forget the Lib Dems like David Laws, ex Chief Secretary and ex JP Morgan, whose imminent return is predicted but who can’t deny his banker past either, in spite of attempts to tippex it out of his CV.

    This is a golden opportunity. Don’t miss it.


    1. Paul says:

      Might want to proof this for spelling of ‘underserving’. Bad spelling undermines your argument and failure to proof damages your credibility!

      1. Jon Lansman says:

        Thank you Paul. Three mispellings have been corrected.

    2. richard says:

      Last Labour gov is responsible for putting through the biggest piece of non-mandated legislation in the history of this country when on the 6th of May immediately after getting into power they deregulated the banks and sowed the seeds of this mess (just like in the USA with the Glass-Steagall Act). Tony Blair and his NewMates let our economy become unhealthily dependent on the financial sector, Dave Cameron (father, grandfather, great-grandfather all stockbrokers) isn’t exactly going to change too much. Cameron thinks that smart people are rich and all poor people are poor simple because they are lazy and think, nothing to do with life chances and ‘networking’ but there you go.

      The future of the UK…

      The wage gap will grow

      UK population will continue to rise at the fastest rate in Europe.

      The NEETS of the UK will grow as jobs go to immigrants and we don’t train our own up to standard. (don’t forget that the employment opportunities that don’t rely on literacy/numeracy skills have gone abroad in most cases)

      Housing in the South East will continue to strain and commuting and CO2 emissions will rise.

      Schools will become more strained as the increasing numbers of children born over the last 10 years or so need schooling. These numbers weren’t predicted because no-one expected such high immigration and fertility rates

      I think the real bubble will pop too. I think the bail-outs have merely over-exposed countries instead of banks. I thought we were going into recession some time back, but credit card spending and re-mortgages kept it going for a while.

      So yes, I’m optimistic. The ConDems will not save the day!

    3. Phil C. says:

      Before anyone rushes in, may I voice a concern? I thought it hateful when the Tories began trying to create an artificial distinction between the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving poor”. The poor are the poor. full-stop.
      Therefore, talking in Tory terms about “deserving rich” versus “undeserving rich” does not seem a good idea to me. I feel ill at ease when the Tories set the terms & rules of a game with the Blairites. I think the Left should use different language.

    4. Chris says:

      I’m all for slagging off feckless capitalists, but we really need to challenge the idea that people end up with the level of wealth they deserve.

      1. Jon Lansman says:

        I agree with Phil C that the distinction between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor is absolutely artificial and made for a political purpose – namely attacking the poor. However, this debate arises in the context of the riots and the link that has successfully been made between the crimes (and they are crimes) of a section of the poor and those of the undeserving rich. We should not defend the crimes of that section of the poor (though we should explain the economic and social context) but it is too good an opportunity not to exloit the language of the Tories against them.

        But I also agree with Chris that, though there may be a deserving rich, that does not justify existing levels of inequality of income or wealth. That point is well made by The Spirit Level.

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