Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/281/24442
Fire, Education, NHS...
Blair's War on Public services
TONY BLAIR says that his government faces its "most testing time" yet. He knows he's on a collision course with the trade unions - and with most people in Britain - over his plans to dismantle public services.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members are already in the forefront of this class war. New Labour has denied a just pay rise for the firefighters but also threatened cuts both in the numbers of workers and in the services they run (see pages 2 and 5).
In the health service, trade unionists bitterly oppose plans for new 'foundation hospitals' accountable only to their shareholders, which will create a two-tier service within the NHS (see centre-page feature).
Opinion polls show record disillusionment with the Labour Party - 58% now think Labour are sleazier than the Tories. But there are deeper problems than sleaze.
New Labour are trying to run a capitalist economy which is showing symptoms of severe crisis. Profits (and investment) are beginning to fall and the employers want to make workers pay for it with lower wages and reduced services.
British capitalism now also has a record trade gap with declining exports and rising imports. There are likely to be fiercer battles than ever before. And Labour will be looking to back the bosses in each and every fight.
Even before this "testing time" the Labour Party is losing members. The likely bloody war on Iraq could be the last straw for many former Labour loyalists.
FBU members in their droves have been opting out of their political levy to Labour. Many other trade unionists ask why they're still paying for a party which kicks them in the teeth.
As New Labour backs the bosses' attempts to undo all the gains made by the working class over a century, the call for a new workers' party to fight for working-class people will get a bigger and bigger echo.
Such a party would unite all those unions and individuals who want to struggle against this crisis-ridden system and its terrible effects on people's lives.
The Socialist Party will be there fighting for a bold socialist programme to end the rule of the capitalist system which is the root cause of the problems which working-class people face.
- Pay the firefighters.
- End low pay in the public sector.
- No to privatisation.
- No cuts through 'modernisation'.
In The Socialist 13 December 2002:
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