As I opened my copy of the last issue, I was contemplating my reply to a letter from Jim Knight, minister for schools and learners, regarding the latest pay increase for teachers (Frontlines, Socialist Review, March 2008).
I had pointed out, via my local Tory MP, that the Retail Price Index (RPI), rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), would have been a more relevant standard on which to base pay awards for public sector workers and that there was a danger that teachers' pay would yet again enter a downward spiral. He replied that it was "fair and responsible... we must have firm control over public sector pay... we would not be thanked for agreeing awards that fuel inflation and end up diminishing their value over the long term."
Imagine my joy to find a well written article that explained clearly the differences between the two types of calculation and backed up my point on the relevance of using a measure of inflation that reflects the daily realities for people in Britain. Fine, use the CPI to compare Britain with France or the US. It may be perfect as an international standard, but try telling me that the cost of housing is irrelevant!
I shamelessly "borrowed" from the article in my reply. Jim Knight may even have gained a better understanding of the situation, himself. I haven't yet had a response!