Why is Manchester in poverty? Workers need socialism!

What is at the root of the spiral of poverty and decay we are experiencing in towns and cities across Britain?

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Poverty is rampant in Britain today, and only set to get worse as the global economic crisis of capitalism continues to deepen.

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Labour, Tory, same old story

Sometime this year, working-class people in Manchester will be asked to cast their vote in favour of Labour, Tory or Liberal candidates in a general election. Each will claim to be for policies that they claim could help improve the living conditions of everyday people – and each of them will be lying.

The record of the Tories is well known to every Mancunian: they are the enemy, the party of the rich, and it is clear they always will be, while the LibDems and Greens are just Tory-lite. But it is now equally clear that the Labour party, whether it is led by Keir Starmer or anyone else, offers no alternative either.

The Labour party runs Manchester city council as its private fiefdom and has done so for decades. In all that time, the conditions for working-class people in the city have got steadily worse. During the long years of so-called ‘Tory cuts’, how did it help Manchester that we had Labour councillors and Labour MPs? Did they put themselves out to defend a single book in a single library, never mind a single job in a single factory?

Right now, a family with two children trying to survive in the Greater Manchester area has to pay at least £35,000 a year for living expenses alone – before any rent or mortgage payments. Even a single person needs around £9,600 plus rent/mortgage just to get by. But the average wage in Greater Manchester, skewed by higher earners, is just £36,000 a year. That means large numbers of Mancunians are earning far less.

Austerity + inflation = poverty

Clearly, in most families, both parents need to be working full time just to make ends meet – leading to further costs in terms of transport and childcare and more strains on an already incredibly tight family budget.

A formerly affordable place to live is becoming more unaffordable for ordinary families with every passing year. Meanwhile, the Labour council and mayoralty carry on rubber-stamping ‘luxury’ housing developments, boosting the coffers of the construction industry and banks while pushing working-class residents ever further to the city margins.

The deep and deepening inflation crisis (dubbed by the press as the ‘cost of living’ crisis and ultimately caused by a global financial crisis of the capitalist system) is making this situation worse by the day. All over the country, families are falling into poverty, homes are going without heating and children are turning up to school hungry. One in three British children now lives in poverty, and this is only expected to get worse.

Nobody in any of the capitalist parties has anything to say about how or why this is happening. None of them is prepared to admit that the obscene inequality in our society, whereby the working class has less and less while the ruling class has more and more, is a direct result of the way the capitalist system works (producing goods for profit rather than according to the needs of the people) and can never be fixed so long as that system remains.

It is clear that Labour not only does not provide any alternatives but is as dedicated to waging a class war upon workers as are the Tories. For both parties, the profits of the billionaires are their primary concern. Whichever one is in power, the Bank of England will continue to fuel inflation (thereby stealing our savings and our wages) in order to bail out and subsidise big banks and corporations at our expense – and then tell us we need more austerity to pay the bill!

The only interest these careerists have in the rest of us is as a workforce to exploit and a vote-bank to lie to every four or five years. Both Tory and Labour are parties competing to represent the interests of the richest 0.1 percent, feathering their nests out of the kick-backs they get in the process, and they have no interest in taking care of the needs of anyone else.

Divide and rule

That is why, instead of looking for meaningful solutions to our problems, they simply join the chorus of propaganda lies aimed at encouraging us to blame other workers for the problems that have been created by this parasitic system. The capitalist class is tiny, and it maintains its rule by dividing the working class. One day, we are asked to blame ‘single mothers’, another day it’s ‘benefit scroungers’, on the third it’s ‘job-stealing immigrants’ and on the fourth it’s ‘bogus asylum seekers’.

The disgusting hypocrisy of our rulers going around the world looting the wealth of other countries and devastating them with aggressive wars and then asking us to blame the victims of those wars when they are forced to leave their homes in search of a viable living for their families has to be seen to be believed.

As working-class people, we have to understand that all this propaganda is aimed only at keeping us weak and fighting amongst ourselves, while the bosses are laughing all the way to the bank.

The ruling elites put so much effort into pushing this divisive propaganda because they know the truth that too many of us have forgotten: ‘The workers, united, will never be defeated!’

How can we defend our rights?

It is time for the great majority of us stop being told that turning up on election day to choose between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is our only ‘choice’. As workers, in Manchester or anywhere else, what we need are towns, cities, schools and hospitals, transport services, utilities and an entire national economy that work in the interests of the majority.

We have the right to expect a life in which we are not being ripped off at every turn; in which we can hold a decent job and have some meaningful say in how our workplaces and communities are run; in which our children go to school to learn what will develop their potential and enrich them (and with them the whole of our society), with shoes on their feet and a good breakfast in their bellies.

In the end, the only way we will get these things is by organising and fighting for a socialist society with a planned economy, where working-class people get to decide what is produced and how much based on the resources and manpower we have available and the things we feel we really need.

This is the real way out of the spiral of decay that the lords of finance capital, the 0.1 percent – supported by their political parties, their media pundits, their civil servants and judges, and their entire rotten system – are condemning us to.

Capitalism isn’t working. Fight for socialism!