Orwellian times

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In his 1933 book Down and Out in Paris and London, George ­Orwell paused in detailing his miserable life as a Paris hotel dishwasher to ponder why it was accepted that people should be imprisoned in such low-grade, poorly paid employment. He reasoned that this arose from rich people’s fear of “the mob”.

These “others” were seen as dangerous to the established ­hierarchy, and must, therefore, be kept firmly entrenched in the lower reaches of society.

But ­Orwell claimed that the mob was already on the loose, in the form of the well-off classes themselves.

Orwell would surely identify a similar situation in Britain today. The UK is reputedly one of the world’s richest countries, yet the indignity of food banks is not only allowed but praised. ­Orwell reported university graduates in Paris scrubbing dishes for 15 hours a day.

Likewise, we now have graduates working for a pittance in fast-food takeaways.

Inequality is built into the British political mindset. The current austerity programme intended to restore national prosperity is ­selective.

Many jobs have been lost in this cause, but not among politicians.

There is a message in this for leader of Unite union Len McLuskey concerning his threat to set up a workers’ party if Labour fails to win the 2015 election. Don’t wait. Do it now.

The Labour Party you knew no longer exists – its leaders are enthusiastic members of the establishment.

Only 9 per cent of current ­Labour MPs have a manual or clerical background and retiring or failed MPs would rather transfer to the privileged environment of the House of Lords than return to “normal” life.

Robert Dow

Ormiston Road

Tranent, East Lothian

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