The United Kingdom is at a crossroads. As events unfold history will reveal which way it jumped. These are the death throes of Empire. Those oppressed or hard done by the pounding boot of domination are now able to voice their discontent.
This is not to complain. We have become an identifiable tyrant, and probably deserve to be castigated.
There is one element that is too often ignored. The English peasant was not responsible for all this pain. Like the German thugs who emerged during Nazism, or the untrained police officer in the USA, or soldiers everywhere – we just did as we were told by our lords and masters. Look around Britain at the stately homes, now largely controlled by the National Trust, a charity that allows the peasantry on to these estates for a mere £72 a year, so they can admire the splendour.
How these people acquired such wealth is rarely mentioned. Peasants were grateful for jobs below stairs, as servants paid a pittance plus the scraps from their master’s table.
The First World War changed the structure of society. Servants we nt easy to find, and they made outrageous demands, of proper pay, time off, reasonable living conditions. All too much. At least money still flowed in from the colonies, most now peopled by ex-slaves.
Within a short space of time Britain’s elite found an excuse. The Second World War changed the income stream. Now business emerged, especially the arms industry, and the populace could be made to pay by an efficient tax collection system. Pay as You Earn ensures the coffers remained full.
Work became the watchword. You all need a job, is still a watchword. With a job we can all be kept reasonably content. A wide range of taxes would hardly be noticed. Income tax was paid, with National Insurance (ostensibly to pay for the NHS, pensions and social services), then VAT on everything that is bought, Council Tax for local services, Capital Gains tax, North Sea Oil production, taxing the banks, and many more taxes, such as business rates, fuel and vehicle taxes. In every case it is the peasant who pays. They are bottom the pile. The only trickle down we are likely to see is the paying of taxes.
Now we have Crvid-19. That’s got ’em worried. Some are making fortunes, gambling on the falling rate of Sterling, or linking to foreign owners and a plethora f tax avoidance schemes. Amazon pays a paltry £14-14 million in tax for an income of over £3 BILLION. The peasantry have discovered that it is easier to work from home! We have the technology! They may be working for anonymous bosses now bt how any will stay tied to these conglomerates, many of which are foreign owned?
They may choose tocreate worker-cooperatives, such as Mondragon in Spain, https://www.mondragon-corporation.com/en/about-us/ which has grown exponentially as the workers share control and profits.
This is not the time for predictions, but this country has the money, expertise and resources. It’s just in the wrong hands. As automation assists then work may not be so necessary. A Universal Basic Income could reduce fear. Cooperation could bring rewards.
We will see.