‘This isn’t an accidental moment in history when prices are getting a bit out of hand; it’s a historic period created by the British ruling class. They run Britain in their interests, not in the interests of ordinary people. We need to understand that’Jon Trickett
By Sam Browse
As we approach May Day, Labour Outlook caught up with Jon Trickett to discuss what he’ll be thinking about over the bank holiday and what the key priorities for the labour movement should be (you can watch the full interview here).
Number one on his agenda is the cost of living crisis: ‘increasingly, there’s a sense of real fear of what’s going to come next. Already stretched budgets from a year ago are very tight – you can see your grocery bill going up every week or two’.
‘Let’s be honest, that’s not impacting the kind of people the Tories represent – the millionaires and billionaires and the well-to-do – it’s affecting working people. There are two parts to that – the price rises, but equally, wages and salaries, which are being held back. The two things together represent a major squeeze on ordinary folk’.
So what’s gone wrong?
‘Let’s be quite clear: this isn’t an accidental moment in history when prices are getting a bit out of hand. While the headlines might say it’s a fleeting moment, it’s not; it’s a historic period that we’ve got into created by the British ruling class. They run Britain in their interests, not in the interests of ordinary people, so we need to understand that.
There is no surprise that this Government – which is a Government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich – is going to fail to deliver for working people, because that’s not what they’re there for and it’s not the system that they’ve created. That’s the central point.’
And how do we begin to change that system?
‘The forces of the wider labour movement need to develop the arguments, the policies, the proposals, and to build a movement to show 1) that the system can change, can be changed, and that we can build a different kind of country and 2) to build a forceful movement which is capable of saying we are going to bring about that change.’
Public ownership has a special place in the policies and proposals we need to challenge and reshape the system: ‘It’s a small thing, maybe, in most people’s lives, but Twitter has fallen into the hands of the richest man in the world; our food and our groceries are now in the hands of two or three more or less monopolies; if you think about our energy supply, it’s fallen into the hands of half a dozen companies, maximum, operating more or less like a monopoly. If you begin to analyse the various things upon which life depends, they generally fall into the hands of the billionaire class.
‘As far as energy is concerned… essentially it is really half a dozen companies really taking large amounts of money in profits by rising prices and handing them across to the shareholders.’
‘Now, if they were in public ownership, that money that has been handed over to private individuals, could be used to reduce prices, but it could also be used for the green agenda, to create jobs and build a new kind of economy, too.’
This May Day, Jon Trickett’s message to the labour movement is loud and clear: ‘The answer isn’t to muck about with an Elastoplast on a gaping wound. We need to change the way the system works.’