How much do they care?

In November 2013 the prime minister of the UK, David Cameron, rose to make a speech about austerity in the UK. More of it is required he says. This is a picture of that event

David Cameron calling for permanent budget cuts

Mr Cameron’s supporters were quick to realize how unfortunate the picture had been. It had sent the wrong message.

About three weeks latter Boris Johnson, they Mayor of London and someone from the same kind of elite privileged background as David Cameron, declared to an audience of “City” bankers that “16% of our species has an IQ below 80” and that more needed to be done to help the most intelligent members of society. The (incredibly smart) bankers got the message and applauded.

More recently there has been talk of increasing the wages of MPs in the UK by 11% to £77k ($125k) . The suggestion comes from a body outside of the parliament (we can only guess the composition of the panel of people making the suggestion). The Conservative treasury ministry argued it was  “inappropriate” that MPs see an 11% pay rise “at a time of spending cuts”.

Another possible reaction to Cameron’s statement, wherever it had been made, would be to say that speaking from privilege surrounded by wealth while advocating spending restrictions is not “sending the wrong message” but, instead, it represents a fundamental discontent and capacity to respect an average worker’s plight.

Another view regarding the 11% pay rise for MPs might be that it is not “inappropriate […] at a time of spending cuts” but fundamentally wrong at any time in a place where the median income is about 25% of an MPs salary, and the majority of the poor are working poor.

In summary, these are not unfortunate or inappropriate things  (as they have been called). The privileged might see it that way: as obstacles to gain the public’s trust, or democratic legitimacy. As faux pas. But they are not. They are fundamental injustices that the elite members of the UK political scene will happily enact if they see an opening. They are not unfortunate words or photo-ops. Instead, they reflect a feeling of entitlement. The poor are dumb and will protest., but we the rich are smart, deserve our gold, and need to get us and our friends more gold.. when appropriate.

There is little surprise here however: this is, to a large extent, how politics works in the real world. Everyone will take what they can get. And the elite, frankly, has too much power and quite enough money already.


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