The 2015 Leicester Mercury rich list (November 10) estimated that the Duke of Rutland had a wealth of £135 million.
But while UKIP have no doubt been well-serviced by the duke’s long-standing support, employees at Belvoir Castle estate, which is owned by this local aristocratic relic, have not fared so well.
This is because, in July, the duke’s estate was named by the Government for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage to 57 workers. The minimum wage is a measly £6.50 an hour for those aged over 21.
Treating workers like peasants, who are lucky to be in the employ of the duke, is a medieval practice normal among the super-rich. In this case, the irony is that much of the duke’s income is derived from pheasant hunts, which cost their well-heeled shooting parties between £8,000 and £10,000 a day.
The rich have always known how to keep hold of wealth, and one principal means of doing this involves depriving their workers of the profits that their hard work generates for their bosses. Another involves minimising their payment of tax.
This year we were told that the “amassed fortunes” of the 50 members of Leicestershire’s rich list came to “an amazing £11.9 billion”; which is “£3 billion up on 2014” (November 10, Mercury).
Yet the week before this “amazing” news, the Mercury ran with the shocking article “One in four not paid living wage” (November 2). This meant that despite the “amassed fortunes” of the super-rich, 451,000 people in the East Midlands were still earning below the UK living wage of £7.85 an hour.
Sadly, the East Midlands now has “the joint second highest proportion of workers earning below the living wage, alongside the West Midlands, Wales, and Yorkshire and Humber.”
Workers create this country’s wealth through their hard work, so surely the wealth gap between the rich and the rest of us need not be growing year on year.
“Many” on the Mercury’s rich list, we are told, “made their money through property – either building it or investing in it.” But why on earth should millionaires be able to engorge themselves at our expense?
For a start let’s popularise the demand to nationalise the building industry, and ensure that the construction sector becomes an enterprise is transformed so that it is dedicated to serving the needs of the many, not the bank balances of a few.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury.
The Mercury noted that: “Statistics published today by auditors KPMG indicated Leicester has 24 per cent of workers earning less than the UK Living Wage of £7.85 an hour.” Later they added: “Two areas were among the 50 worst locations in the country for the proportion of jobs which pay less than the living wage, with Melton at number nine and Oadby and Wigston at 47. The research, based on data from the Office for National Statistics, showed that in Melton Mowbray, 37 per cent of jobs did not pay the living wage. In Oadby and Wigston, 31.8 per cent did not.”
Earlier this year, former Tory MP Harvey Proctor resigned as the Duke of Rutland’s personal spokesperson after serving in this position for the past 14 years. As the Guardian puts its: “A rightwing Monday Club activist and fan of Enoch Powell, Proctor’s familiar package of Ukip-ish views and a foppish manner was never my cup of political tea.” Proctor’s autobiograhy Credible and True, will be published in April 2016.