The recent riots in east Belfast led to renewed hand-wringing about the "Protestant working class". Protestants are not the only ones to suffer deprivation. They've not been disadvantaged more than Catholics. As the anti-poverty strategy launched under direct rule in 2005, Lifetime Opportunities, put it, "the geography of deprivation has persisted stubbornly over the past 30 years". It is simply wrong for prostestant paramilitaries and loyalist 'community workers' to claim that Catholics have benefited from public expenditure largesse at their expense. The same - disproportionately Catholic - neighbourhoods in north and west Belfast and Derry top the league of social disadvantage as when the 'Troubles' began.
The whole idea of socialism is that we should show solidarity towards others, regardless of colour or creed, who face the same daily struggles as ourselves - that we can unite in support of collective political solutions to our individual problems.
Meantime, elsewhere, the chief executives at FTSE 100 companies saw their median earnings rise 32 per cent last year, treble the rise in share prices and well above workers’ average 2 per cent pay award, according to MM&K, a reward consultancy, and Manifest, a proxy voting agency. The corporate leaders’ median salary rise was just 2 per cent but total earnings were boosted by a 70 per cent increase in pay-outs under incentive plans and share option schemes. FTSE 100 chief executives’ pay was 47 times that of average employees in 1998 but had risen to 120 times by 2010, say MM&K and Manifest. Bosses’ packages have more than doubled in value over that period.