It is very rare I’m tempted to burst into song at Westminster, but I was reminded of a classic ditty by the pre-war music hall artiste Billy Bennett: “It’s the same the whole world over, It’s the poor what gets the blame, It’s the rich what gets the pleasure, Isn’t it a blooming shame?”
What sparked this was a report circulated in Parliament by Oxfam, based on data compiled by Credit Suisse, which showed that the richest one per cent of the world’s population now own almost half of all the wealth.
The 80 top billionaires between them are worth 1.9 trillion dollars, a sum unimaginable to my constituents. I’m not even sure how many noughts you put on that.
What makes it even worse is that those billionaires have seen their wealth increase over four years of global economic crisis, giving them an extra $600bn to play with.
A chunk of that is held in UK institutions which the Tory-led coalition sucks up to with tax breaks and other incentives while everyone else suffers from ‘austerity’ spending cuts, the ‘bedroom tax’, pay freezes, zero hours contracts and all the other horrors inflicted by the current government.
And that really is a blooming shame.