The war no one told you about because you’re too poor

26 Aug 2015   lucyejwoods

Two debates on wealth took place in London last week. Defendants of spiraling riches revealed: it’s time to grab the silver spoon from your mouth and fashion it into a spear.

Named after anti-slavery advocate, Moncure Daniel Conway, the 1929-built Conway Hall was filled with plastic red chairs for NewStatesman readers, and the following evening, the newly built glass box of the Guildhall School of Drama’s Milton Court had it’s solid oak seating packed to the brim with cocktail sipping The Spectator readers.

Both audiences were told, forget the Middle East “We live in a new world order”, and the ”war on terror, is now a war on the rich.”

This battle cry is the claim of William Cash, the editor-in-chief of the invite only subscription for those worth £5 million and over, and what GQ dubbed “the Bible of the banking fraternity” – Spear’s Magazine.

Cash delivered this statement at both debates. The NewStatesman event titled: ‘How to solve a problem like the rich’, and The Spectator debate, called ‘Should politicians leave the wealthy alone?’

The war declaration, and Spectator proposal for politicians to exempt the rich from public scrutiny, is despite the current collective decision-making body of the cabinet of Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom being made up of 23 (out of 29) millionaires – which includes the cabinet minister pulling the strings on the military, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, who is worth a reported £8.2 million.

Cash himself is hoping to be an MP, as UKIP candidate for North Warwickshire. This was a decision that was apparently spurred after the potential “rural vandalism” of a solar park development proposal near his Elizabethan, moated manor house. The vandalism victim announced this looming humanitarian crisis wealth-war at the Spectator debate after seeking sympathy that as the humble son of the owner’s of Abbey Bank, he had to start his seven figure super-elite publication above a kebab shop – you know, where poor people usually live.

Cash pleaded for “facts not utopian fiction” during the Spectator debate referring to the sum that could be raised from a mansion tax, £2 billion – the equivalent of 54,000 yearly salaries for nurses, or 24,000 for doctors – as “chicken feed” compared to other taxes…no prizes for guessing who is living in utopia.

He then accused the media of turning the affairs of the super rich into “financial pornography”, and scornfully accused the media of whipping up “hatred” of the rich and using them as “scapegoats” for the financial crisis, and wealth tax economics is “rich bashing”. Presumably Cash reckons the poverty-porn stars of Benefits Street are who really caused the financial crisis?

This is also despite the UK media, who tell the public how to feel about this new onslaught on the rich, being predominantly controlled by two billionaires: Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere.

Moreover, the rich are richer than ever before.

Journalist and author, Ben Judah who only attended the NewStatesman debate said that there is “two China’s worth of untaxed money hidden in UK off shore accounts”.

“There is a whole parallel world of cash” said Judah, adding that out of all the money hidden in off shore accounts globally – roughly £4.7 trillion, more than double the UK’s annual GDP – one third is held in UK off shore accounts, adding that the rich are “much, much, much, much, much, much, much richer than we think they are”.

Although, Cash’s argument: “you have to create wealth before you can redistribute it” is seductive, wealth has been created under a growing GDP; the UK became the fifth largest economy in the world last year. Meanwhile, distribution is nowhere in sight, with most people in poverty in the UK now in work. According to the High Pay Centre, an independent pay monitoring think tank, 99% of households would be better off by around £3,000 a year by taxing the 1% at levels similar to numerous more prosperous European countries.

“Wealth is constantly sucked to the top,” said journalist Owen Jones at the NewStatesman event (he attended both debates). “With the top 1,000 wealthiest Britons doubling their wealth in recent years to an amount twice that of the deficit.”

Despite the elephants of reality being ushered out of the room, the Spectator debate waged on with the help of journalist, Toby Young.

Young stated recent government cuts have meant that the rich have lost a lot more, as a percentage of income, than the poor. Conveniently omitting that the only reason the rich have “lost more than the poor” is because the poor had fuck all to begin with, meanwhile the rich own basically everything: the Office for National Statistics revealed last year that Britain’s richest 1% have accumulated £9.5 trillion in property, financial assets and pensions.

When questioned on redistribution of wealth according to generation, Young replied that, as the damage of inequality causes “infinite” harm, there is no argument to even bother trying to fix the scales. Young then contradicted himself that actually, he really does believe in intergenerational justice as “a really good reason to reduce the deficit”. So, young people can pay elders’ debts, but not share their wealth. This comical cognitive dysfunction tied into Jones‘ counter that the UK has “socialism for the rich, and capitalism for the poor”.

Also fighting for millionaire politicians to leave their millionaire buddies alone, The Spectator’s editor, Fraser Nelson asked for attendees not to see the rich as a “Victorian freak show”, and baptised any conclusion that a teeny bit of outrage at the historically precedential scale of the age old issue of wealth hogging, a “knee jerk reaction”.

He pleaded with the Spectator crowd that the UK needs the “ingenuity” and “talent” of the rich, as well as “their tax”, seemingly oblivious to the talents, skills and taxpaying of the 99% of the population who are not super rich, but still pay 73% of income tax, despite having only about 40% of the wealth…

Green Party MEP, Molly Scott Cato stepped into the debate to remind Nelson that the most likely cause of being wealthy is not some unicorn-esque super-talent, or genius ingenuity, but simply having wealth already. “The children of the wealthy are more likely to end up smashing up clubs and vomiting on other people’s carpets, than they are to be developing a new antibiotic,” she said. Nelson also told people belonging to a society where an estimated half a million resort to using food banks, that we should read the Sunday Times rich list with “admiration and awe”, and it’s all OK, because everyone in London knows where to get a £20 vodka martini as a result of these super elite, and lavish cocktails are handy…for those who can afford them. Guardian journalist Jack Monroe tried heartily but futilely to bring the debate back to planet earth, inconveniently reminiscing, “£20 cocktails was three weeks food” for her when she was using food banks.

The inadvertently hilarious yet emotive accusations of “war on the rich” lose all comedic value when defenders of the super wealthy clash lash out; Cash labelled Monroe and the opposition “jihadists of anti-wealth”. Move over beheading ISIS, anyone daring to ask for fairer wealth redistribution is now an extremist.

Jones quipped it’s “not a radical idea” to move away from a model of centralized production. However, any ideas of redistribution are increasingly portrayed as such. In the fantasies of the rich there is a parallel universe where their unimaginable wealth is the constant target of entitled jihadists and poverty is not all that bad.

Their dream lives of moated homes, blacked out cars and fancy cocktails continues to seduce mainstream politics, infecting the national debate with a sense of un-reality. Their ideological allies run the banks, the media and are up for election in less than ten days time.

The wealth defenders won the debate, 232 against 160.


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