Spreading the pain

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Spreading the pain

The economic crisis is having a more pronounced and more protracted impact on living standards than either the recession of the early 1980s or that of early 1990s.

The Office for National Statistics estimated that average living standards have fallen by 13.2 percent since the start of 2008 as measured by net national income per head, widely seen as the best guide to actual living standards. This is nearly double the overall fall in national output over the same period, which was 7 percent.

Living standards appear to have held up for many in the initial phase of the crisis, but have subsequently been sharply squeezed as pay has fallen and prices have risen. Many workers have been forced to restrict their working hours or found that they have to take part-time work despite wanting full-time jobs.

The burden of the crisis has fallen most heavily on those who have been thrown on the dole, but it is having a bigger and longer impact on those who have kept their jobs than in the last two recessions.

The Tories will boast that the 1 percent growth recorded for the three months between July and September means that the "recession is over" and their policies are paying off. It won't feel like that to millions of people. MT


Orgreave: learning to deceive

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive."

Is there a direct link between the policing of the Miners' Strike of 1984-85 and the Hillsborough football disaster in Sheffield where 96 fans died?

A BBC Inside Out documentary revealed that South Yorkshire Police's prosecution of arrested pickets at the Orgreave coking plant near Sheffield in June 1984 may have involved police officers being told what to write in their statements.

Orgreave was a key moment in the Miners' Strike. Mass pickets attempted to stop the transport by lorry of coke to the British Steel mill at Scunthorpe. Success could have turned the dispute in the miners' favour, replicating the miners' victory in 1972 at the Saltley Gates coking depot. The Tories and the police were determined to prevent a repeat of those events at all costs.

A trial of 15 of the pickets arrested at Orgreave collapsed after it became clear that the police evidence was unreliable. One police officer admitted that much of his statement was narrated to him. All 93 miners arrested at Orgreave clashes were acquitted of charges against them. The same police force was found by the Hillsborough Independent Panel to have to changed police statements after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

Did the huge mobilisation by the state to break the miners' strike lead the police to view working class people with intensified contempt? They certainly seem to have seen the fabrication of evidence as legitimate and something they would not be held to account for. MT