In May 1919, the Ministry of Labour reported a Home Office survey listing causes of revolutionary feeling amongst the working class. The top six?
- high prices
- bad housing
- hatred of the rich
I wonder what a similar survey might come up with today. Admittedly, they might find it harder to find 'revolutionary feeling' to identify the causes of. But 'hatred of the rich' would still score pretty well, I reckon, with today's fat cats taking the place of the post-WW1 profiteers.
At that time, businessmen were ostentatiously profiteering and government ministers were joining in. Parliament passed the Ministers and Salaries Act 1919, boosting Cabinet members’ pay from £2,000 per year to £5,000 at a time when thousands of railwaymen earned less than £50 per year and the government was trying to push down wages! 179 MPs were company directors, and future Tory Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin described the Government benches as being filled with “hard-faced men who looked as if they had done well out of the war.”
With today's scandalous salaries and bonuses of directors of privatised industries which run down their services and rip off their working-class customers, and with Tony Blair more than doubling his own salary since taking office as PM, you might think that the more things change the more they stay the same.