The Conservative Party will today be accused of “reinventing the class system” as workers’ pay continues to fall despite economic growth.
In her keynote speech to the TUC Congress in Liverpool, general secretary Frances O’Grady will say that modern Conservatism is the “enemy of aspiration” and that “social mobility has hit reverse”.
She will say: “Are we going to settle for a nastier and poorer Britain? A Downton Abbey-style society, in which the living standards of the vast majority are sacrificed to protect the high living of the well-to-do?
“We are piling yet more riches onto a privileged few. Economic growth is back but there’s no sign of it in most workers’ pay packets. In fact, the gap has got worse. Top chief executives now earn 175 times the wages of the average worker.
“Silver spoons are ever more firmly clamped in the mouths of those who were born with them.
“Whether it’s the judiciary, the media, business or public life, wearing the old school tie means you’re up to 10 times more likely to reach the top.
“Under this Government, class prejudice is becoming respectable once again.”
Ms O’Grady will highlight mixed housing apartment blocks forcing social housing tenants to use a separate entrance, or “poor door”, and private nurseries refusing to offer publicly subsidised places to children from the wrong side of the tracks because wealthy parents do not want their children to mix.
She will say: “While youth unemployment is still too high, the Government may boast that record numbers of young people are entering university. But what they don’t tell you is that it’s Brideshead Revisited for the few but decades of debt for the rest.
“The next election is one of the most important at which any of us will have a vote. It’s a fundamental choice about the kind of country that we want to be, not just for the next few years but for a generation.”
Pay and living standards will be debated by delegates today, as well as calls for co-ordinated industrial action on pay.
Public sector unions are already drawing up plans for public sector strikes in October, ahead of a national demonstration organised by the TUC on October 18 under the banner, Britain Needs A Pay Rise.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will today press for joint industrial action between public sector unions to break the Government’s cap on pay.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna will address the conference, while Labour leader Ed Miliband will speak at a private TUC dinner tonight on the role of unions in the Better Together campaign against independence in Scotland.