To give a tax break to people on more than £150,000 a year when the rest of the population, and above all the bottom half, are on the rack for a decade of austerity takes some doing. It shows more acidly than anything else could the sheer psychopathic mania of the ruling Tory elite for relentlessly squeezing the mass of the people in order to consolidate the power and wealth of a miniscule set of the ultra-rich.
It is extraordinary that after a century of democracy, marked by the rise of the Labour Party, the Tory guardians of the rich can still resurrect, and even surpass, the inequality extremism of the Victorian-Edwardian age. It shows the overweening self-confidence of the governing Tory circle, as well as the terrible impotence of the Labour Movement to prevent it. But who are these people before whom Osborne is debasing the whole country?
Those at present paying the 50% tax rate constitute about the 1% richest, but the £150,000 a year required to get into this group is merely the threshold income. There is no ceiling – indeed the sky’s the limit for some of their stratospheric incomes and even more their wealth.
The richest tenth within this group have a starting pay level of £22,670 a week – 60 times the current UK median pay of £380 a week – rising to such levels as £307,700 a week in the case of demanding millionaires like Bob (“the time for apology over the banking crash is now over”) Diamond of Barclays, no less than 810 times the median pay of Britons today.
The core of this ultra-rich group, to whom Osborne seems determined to doff his cap with a huge tax break when everyone else is having to tighten their belt, is the 1,000 richest persons in the country. This minute club, just 0.003% of the population, has a total wealth of £1 trillion. Just 100 of them control wealth, according to the Rich List, of £225bn. There are now 73 billionaires among them. And to take just one other dimension of this egregious inequality, just 0.3% of the population own 69% of the entire land mass of the country.
The essential point about this catalogue of extreme wealth is that if the rich paid their fair share of taxation commensurate to their wealth, a majority of the Budget deficit could be paid off without any austerity for the remaining 99% at all. The injustice of what is now proposed by Osborne is so colossal that it’s not only a demonstration of the nature of ruthless power (and the role of relentless right-wing media propaganda), it’s also a throwing down of the gauntlet so extreme that if Labour cannot rise to it aggressively across the country, it sacrifices all pretension to effective opposition.