What the year 2016 proved beyond doubt is that, unsurprisingly in view of the Tory governments in power, the only solution to the nation`s problems lies with a move to the left. The country is struggling economically and socially, and the right has no answers.
2016`s losers were not chief executives who left prominent roles in financial circles, or, according to a recent Guardian article, "bosses at a string of companies" who faced shareholder "revolts"; far from it, as they still kept their millions. The real losers were the employees, with pay below the living wage, with zero-hour contracts, and with bosses either using Victorian working practices, or "systematically plundering" workers` pension funds, or both.
On the subject of the latter, Philip Green left BHS with a pension deficit of £571m, yet the Pension Regulator is only chasing him for £350m. That`s clearly another of those "burning injustices" Theresa May intends to do nothing about, like Orgreave!
Workers lost out, too, because of gross government indifference to their woes. Post-Brexit excitement might have led to promises about not ruling in the interests of "the privileged few", but the rhetoric never became action. Workers` representatives on the boards of companies was always a non-starter, in the light of the permanent Tory alliance with big business and the City. May`s government is as much in cahoots with the likes of the City, financial institutions and the CBI as any of its predecessors.The autumn statement revealed the lie about helping workers who were "just about managing"; the trade union legislation was nothing less than anti-worker, just as recent statements from government ministers were, about recent industrial action to save jobs.Another example, if any more is needed, is the way May dealt with the disgraceful firms failing to pay their workers the minimum wage: she "named and shamed" them, as if that was going to change anything! No doubt about it, 2016 proved, yet again, that Tory party, despite the recent claim to be the "party of the workers", couldn`t give a damn for the working people.
The year also proved, as if it wasn`t known already, that wealth does not "trickle down", that paying executives obscene amounts of money does not improve company performance, and that excessive pay is unnecessary to attract the "best people". The massive pay ratios, currently averaging 128:1 in FTS100 companies, show how short-termism, which focuses on bonus targets being reached in one or two years, leads to low or no investment in technology and training, and results in low productivity. Yet the mainstream media still goes on about workers needing to work harder, and teachers not giving their pupils the right skills, as if they decide what is to be taught.
On that subject, Brexit has created the problem of increased divisions in our society, with the right-wing eager to exploit the racism which has reared its ugly head again. We know the Tories care nothing for state education and its teachers, as there couldn`t be a recruitment problem otherwise, but they even refuse to contemplate opening the hidden history files, all 1.2 million of them, to historians. The country needs to face up to its past, no matter how harrowing it might be. If the German government can reveal to its people the country`s awful imperial past, as well as its Nazi horror show, the UK government has a duty to do the same. How can we all live peaceably together when the majority believe in a history that has been engineered and manipulated by governments. Ukip thrives on propaganda, and 2016 proves that the Tories are willing to see Ukip`s popularity increase, even if it`s accompanied by more race hatred, than risk losing power to a rejuvenated Labour party.
What 2016 did demonstrate, without a doubt, is that inequality can only be reduced by government legislation. Such methods as "naming and shaming" and permissive policies will not work. Wealth redistributive measures are needed, and they will not come from centre-ground political parties; isn`t that what the Blair-Brown years taught us? The rich have to pay more in income tax, and that means those earning over three times the average wage; businesses have to pay more corporation tax, and all those using tax havens as a means of tax evasion need to be prosecuted.
Only if the Labour party rallies around Corbyn, and the media gives him a fairer ride, is there hope for change in the new year. 2016 demonstrated how the right, when it is left unchallenged by the media, can increase its popularity, by using lies and propaganda, so it is vital the people of Britain are fed the truth; sadly, this is something the mainstream media is not very good at, and something history teachers are not allowed to do.