We are told regularly that, unlike dictatorships, ‘the people’ govern Britain. But, says Dave Sewell, it’s the unelected rich and powerful that really have their hands on the wheel.
We’ve heard a lot of chest-beating about “our democracy” in the past week. But some of the most powerful figures and institutions in the country aren’t up for election—and never will be.
Those who really run society have massively concentrated power.
A core of just 147 firms control 40 percent of the wealth of over 43,000 multinational companies—and 737 control 80 percent of it. Bosses and directors in one firm also sit on the boards of many others.
Their huge wealth gives them enormous economic power and political influence.
We’ve seen glimpses of that power during the election campaign. The value of the pound hit a two-month low last Friday after opinion polls showed Labour closing in on Theresa May’s lead.
Some mysterious institution has decided it wants the Tories re-elected. This echoes the markets’ reaction to last year’s referendum.
There was no less wealth in the world after the result than before. But people had voted against the status quo, and were punished with a currency run that squeezed living standards.
“The pound” and “the markets” are described as if they’re forces of nature or moody gods whose wishes must be met to avoid ruin.
These economic forces reflect the decisions of immensely wealthy investment bankers who control much of the money supply. They are in turn part of a class of capitalists and billionaires who own most of the economy—and aren’t shy about throwing that weight around.
Bosses regularly try and hold workers and governments to ransom. Car manufacturer Nissan last year threatened to destroy tens of thousands of jobs if it didn’t get more government support.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch effectively demands that all prime ministers and opposition leaders court him or face his wrath.
And the issue isn’t just the rich. Elected governments are only a small part of the mostly unelected state.