Cameron’s staggering hypocrisy on the living wage

In May 2010, in a public speech just 2 days before the General Election, David Cameron said the following words which are quite staggering to look at now:

You have asked for a living wage in the public sector. As you know, I think that this is a good and attractive idea. Government, after all, is the biggest employer in the country. Where it leads, others will follow – and fairness will begin to be hard-wired into pay-scales up and down the country.’

He also said it was an ‘idea whose time has come‘.

Fast-forward two years and we have the following government statement which shows that Cameron didn’t give a stuff for fairness or the welfare of ordinary people:

We are not convinced that employers should be required to pay a higher Living Wage. A ‘living wage’ set at a higher level than the minimum wage could damage employment prospects for low-paid workers.’

In other words, ‘I said all that to get elected, but what I really want is a country where employers can pay peanuts and people have no choice but to work for them because I’ve cut wages in other sectors, slashed benefits, demonised the ‘shirkers’ and removed any choice for millions – and all so that the companies and their rich owners that support us can add an extra percentage point or two to their profit-line.’

This staggering, malicious hypocrisy by Cameron has already led to the following:

– frozen public-sector wages almost since the coalition took power

– plans to regionalise public-sector wages so that workers are paid less in most areas, with the justification that it will save public money and allow private employers to ‘compete for staff’ (i.e. get people for lower wages because of the lack of any better alternative), even though it’s clear that such a move would damage the economy

– Tory-sanctioned ‘health cartels‘ designed to enforce wage cuts across entire regions by ensuring that all Trusts in an area offer the same, worse packages to staff, who then have no choice but to accept them because there’s nowhere else to go

– attacks on the housing benefit that millions of working, but low-paid, people depend on to be able to afford any kind of housing and living, let alone a decent standard

and much more.

So much for government leading where others will follow. Cameron was exactly right in that statement – but instead of using it for good, he’s using it to systematically deprive the people of this country of most of what was good about the UK, and about living in it.

Remember, remember… Don’t be fooled by media-managed soundbites, trite generalisations and the careful disinformation the Tories love as a way of boiling the frog slowly so we don’t jump out of the pot until it’s too late.

Remember. Do what you can now to resist, spread the word to anyone who’ll listen (and if they won’t listen, try to make them) – and whenever the next opportunity comes to vote these malignant con-men out of office, let’s do it so resoundingly that they can’t be a meaningful influence on our country or our politics for the next 50 years, if ever.


(HT to Newsnight 12/7/2012!)