Letter: Hitting the poor

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The Independent Culture
Sir: So, the Court of Appeal has decided that the privatised electricity industry should return pounds 1.5bn that it took, in the view of the court, illegally from the employees' pension fund (report, 11 February). This provides an illuminating insight into Britain in the late 20th century.

The Tory government asked Middle England if it would like some cheap shares in an important monopoly. Middle England responded enthusiastically, and the privatisation went ahead.

Once the new companies had come into being, they took money which, in the view of the Court of Appeal, they had no right to, and used it to make people redundant.

As these hapless souls joined the unemployed, and unemployment rose, the same Middle Englanders who had benefited from the initial privatisation, and who had received increased dividends as a direct result of the companies' actions, began to clamour that their precious taxes should not be spent supporting "the feckless work-shy unemployed", and pressed for cut in the social security payments - and got them. This process is called "the free market".

Hello Tony, are you listening?


London W2