Maurice Glasman’s Sun on Sunday column – “The Squeezed Bottom”

24th February, 2012 2:28 pm

As has been reported today, Maurice Glasman’s column for the Sun on Sunday won’t be appearing in the paper this week. However, we’ve managed to obtain a first draft (unsubbed), which you can read below:

There’s something wrong in our country and its been going on too long. It doesn’t seem to be working for the people.

We don’t seem to love and support the good but show more concern for the mean, the greedy and the sneaky. We’ve all been like that, wanted things too much and cared for people too little. We all went into debt and brought things we thought we needed but couldn’t afford. We’ve all tried to cover things up when we’ve mucked up, at home and at work.

And now we have the reckoning. We’ve all got to take responsibility, from the top to the bottom.

We spent too much, as families and as a country and we didn’t generate real value. The ugly marriage of the City of London and public administration that has been driving our economy has not worked out well. It doesn’t treat people right and its children are greedy and needy.

Our trust in invisible earnings led to the spread of an invisible grief and its called debt. There has to be change.

We need not just skilled people, but people who put in an honest shift and care about it. We need people in power who are successful, who lead and bring people with them, who turn things around. Not people with an MBA who write email memos and improve the feedback loop.

The liberal-led coalition will talk about anything except work. They think that money creates value, they think that technology creates value, they think that risk taking creates value, they think that entrepreneurialism creates value, that universities create value, anything other than work and workers. Anything other than people who know what they’re doing getting on with the job. That is what makes things better and drives innovation but they can’t understand that. We are all in this together in a way that George Osborne can’t even begin to understand. They say they want a curb on executive pay but don’t want workers on the renumeration committees.

And that is the truth. Work, the source of value, has less and less value in our country. Its not the fault of this government alone. The average wage is £25,000 a year and its stayed there since 2003. People are not earning enough to feed their families.

For years I worked with London Citizens on a Living Wage. It was the best work I ever did. Working with people who were paid badly and treated badly. Contracted out, used and ignored. No-one invited the cooks, cleaners and security guards to the Christmas Party. And bankers who were earning millions in bonuses didn’t want to pay it. But they did. And it made things better.

We need to honour work. Not welfare but real work. The trouble is that the value of wages keeps on going down until a quarter of workers in the midlands and north of England are earning less than a Living Wage. This is where we are Nearly half the people in the country want to put aside ten pounds a month but can’t. People are borrowing money at rates that double the debt in a month. We need more money as energy companies rack up prices but our earnings are stuck. No savings. No skills. No money. Debt. More debt.

We need to break the vicious cycle and recognise that profits go up but wages down and that people are being pushed from the middle to the bottom. There is a real issue with the squeezed bottom. People who work but can’t cover their costs. The basis of our renewal, the busy and brave people of England, are treated the worst.

And then, to top it all, we may have won the war but Germany seems to have won the peace. And how did they do it? By honouring labour and work. There are workers on the boards of companies, more of a balance of power. They have a vocational economy so that you have to serve an apprenticeship or you won’t get a job. They preserved skills and renewed them. We were told by experts from all areas that Germany would be blown out of the water by globalisation and its come out on top. Hard lessons. Big change.

I’m Labour. The clue is in the name. I honour work and recognise those who do it with skill and courage as nobility. Not just the generals but the soldiers, not just the risk takers but the grafters. Work is our salvation and that is the value that will renew our country.

We’ve all got to do all we can to love and support the squeezed bottom. You should try it. It’s good.

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