Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/603/8398
Main parties plan cutbacks: It's time for a fightback!
THERE MUST be an election coming. All of a sudden, New Labour want us to believe that they're different to the Conservatives. After over 12 years of carrying out Tory policies, Gordon Brown and Co. used the Queen's Speech to make out that they're on our side. But it won't wash.
At seven minutes, it might have been the shortest Queen's Speech ever, but there were no other signs that the recession is affecting the 'unelectables' - that's the unelected royalty, the unelected Prime Minister, his unelected Peter Mandelson, and all the other unelected Peers and Lords. No silver-buckle tightening amidst the pomp, ceremony and crown jewels to show that "we're all in this together."
In fact, there wasn't even a mention of the MPs' expenses scandal, and there will be no cap on bankers' bonuses either. After £1.5 trillion of taxpayers' money has been used to bail out the banks and financial system, City bonuses are expected to be £6 billion this year, up from £4 billion in 2008.
But the government says it will have powers from next year to curb bonuses paid for taking 'reckless' and 'excessive' risks. Weren't these the very 'risk-takers' that Chancellor Brown was praising less than three years ago in his Mansion House speech?
Many of these 'reckless' fat cats are tax avoiders but reassuringly for them, the Queen told us that she and her husband would be visiting Bermuda, a British-controlled tax haven!
However, cuts in public spending are definitely going to be enforced. The Fiscal Responsibilities bill requires the next government to halve the budget deficit in four years, by 2014. The Tories say they'll halve it in two years! October's budget deficit was the worst ever, adding to the projected £175 billion shortfall. This means "savage cuts" to use Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg's words, whichever party wins the election, and more privatisation of public services.
Despite these cuts, somehow Brown wants us to believe that New Labour will improve health care, give free social care at home for the vulnerable elderly and abolish child poverty by 2020. In twelve years they've not achieved it, there's no way they will deliver it in six months in the middle of a recession.
They announced an Equality bill which gives the whole public sector a duty to "narrow the gap between rich and poor". Tell that to the Leeds council bin-men who were on strike for eleven weeks to stop £5,000 a year pay cuts.
And there's a bill to finally give agency and temporary workers full employment rights, but not until 2011 by which time Labour will probably have been kicked out. Tellingly, the Superdrug warehouse workers have been on strike to stop their terms and conditions being brought down to those of agency workers.
Most of Labour's 15 proposed bills won't even reach the statute books because there are only 70 days of parliament sitting before the election is called (only 33 days for the Lords, but they are getting on a bit!). Those bills not passed can only become law if there is an agreement between the parties, a process called "washup". 'Washed-up' sums up this New Labour government and the other establishment parties. More than ever, we need a working-class based left-wing alternative.
That's why the Socialist Party is actively promoting the setting up of an electoral coalition to stand trade union and socialist candidates in next year's general election. Now is the time to say: "We did not cause your capitalist crisis, we will not pay the price."
In The Socialist 24 November 2009:
Socialist Party editorial
Marxist analysis: history
Environment and socialism
War and occupation
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news
Socialist Party review