Those who defend the British state, against the self-determination of the nations that comprise it, consistently make the case that working people benefit from this imperial construct and its ill-gotten gains and that without it they would be impoverished without.
But as it stands, senior citizens are struggling to get by as inflation grows, and the government isn’t too worried about the millions of senior citizens who will spend the last years of their lives struggling to survive on poverty pensions…
The UK’s state pension system has been named as the worst in the European Union for the second year running in a survey by Aon Consulting.
British pensioners receive a pension equivalent to just 17% of average earnings, the lowest level in Europe, and well below the average of 57%.
Aon says the “inadequacy” of the UK’s state system is “beyond question”.
Here’s how the Morning Star covered it in a suitably angry editorial:
Stingiest in Europe
(Tuesday 13 November 2007)
IF Britain’s state pensioners were to be guaranteed a pension of 30 per cent of average earnings, they would imagine that all their birthdays and Christmases had arrived at once.
But that would still be on a par with the second-worst state pension in the European Union – the Netherlands.
First prize for stinginess goes, of course, to Britain, where the Tories, under Margaret Thatcher, broke the link between the state pension and average earnings shortly after being elected in 1979 and new Labour has steadfastly refused to honour its opposition commitment to restore it.
Pensions Reform Minister Mike O’Brien believes that this reality is misleading because our pensions system is “different” from other EU states.
He’s damned right that it is. The rest of the EU stood by its postwar welfare reforms whereas neoliberal radicals Mrs Thatcher and Gordon Brown have been dedicated to the twin dogmas of a slimmed-down state and individual responsibility.
And so, while senior citizens across the EU enjoy a post-retirement income of half average earnings, we continue to accept the shameful situation of 2.5 million pensioners living below the poverty line.
The government continues to blame imaginary phenomena such as a “demographic time bomb” for this scandal.
Far more accurate to blame new Labour’s refusal to make the rich pay their fair share of taxation, its fixation with handing over public funds to the private sector through privatisation and PFI schemes, its obsession with backing US-led imperialist wars or its clueless determination to waste billions on replacing its spurious nuclear “deterrent.”
How encouraging for pensioners who have to spend most of winter in bed to keep warm to know that, at least, they remain protected from invasion, courtesy of Britain’s weapons of mass destruction.
Of course, this deterrent won’t protect them or anyone else from the terrorist threat that has emerged in response to our government’s backing for illegal wars against Muslim countries.
If there is anything worse than our government’s attempts to persuade other EU states to back overseas wars, it is its proselytisation for globalised neoliberalism, the false religion that he shares with the White House and the EU commission.
This has already brought about a situation where other European countries have joined new Labour in an assault on previously agreed pension provisions.
Germany, France, Italy and Portugal are just some of the EU states that have seen mass protests and strikes against plans to defer workers’ retirement age and to reduce pensions entitlements.
Governments and employers chant the same chorus that workers’ rights, which were conceded when trade unions and left-wing parties were more influential, are no longer affordable.
Isn’t it strange, however, that the copper-bottomed final-salary pensions schemes that are enjoyed by MPs, High Court judges and company directors remain eminently affordable? The obstacle holding up a decent state pension for all is not lack of finance. It’s lack of political will.
The idea that Britain, the fourth or fifth biggest economy in the world, cannot afford justice for pensioners is too preposterous for words. What we cannot afford is perpetuation of this injustice.