Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/626/9569
Millionaire ministers butcher public services
Unite to fight the cuts
The new Tory/Lib Dem government has not wasted any time in starting to slash public spending. Round one, cuts totalling £6.2 billion, is designed to send an early message to its masters - the capitalist markets - that it can be trusted to serve the needs of finance capital and big business. This means reducing the government's borrowing level, no matter what havoc and suffering is caused to workers' households and communities across the country.
Then later this year the slaughter is to be massively stepped up. Lib Dem millionaire Treasury minister and former banker David Laws has declared he will make "aggressive cuts" in an "age of austerity" to reduce the £156 billion budget deficit. These much bigger cuts packages will be announced on budget day - 22 June, and then in the autumn, when cuts for the next three years will be announced.
The first £6 billion includes a further assault on local authorities which is likely to hit residential and home care for the elderly, libraries, leisure schemes, school transport and many other services.
'£6 billion found, just £150 billion to go', quipped one journalist. The next rounds of cuts, to reduce the deficit by about a third, are predicted to take public sector job losses up to half a million, cut some parts of the public sector by 25% and possibly increase VAT, which would hit the poor proportionately much harder than the rich.
Working class people are already suffering from rising inflation - it was at a 19 year high of 5.3% in March. Inflation and a VAT increase combined, when pay levels are being held down and even cut for some workers, would take a terrible toll on living standards.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg had the nerve to urge people to spare judgment until the end of the government's five year term. How can workers who are thrown into poverty, losing their jobs and maybe their homes "spare judgment"? Or young people who can't get a job or a university place?
Public services executioner David Laws said he hasn't yet worked out if he's in a dream or a nightmare. The task of the trade union movement, together with community organisations, pensioners groups etc, must be to make sure it's a nightmare for him and the rest of his jobs and service-slashing brigade, by launching the biggest ever anti-cuts movement. Because if it's not a nightmare for him, it will certainly be one for us. That is a prospect that must be fought against with the collective strength of anti-cuts campaigns and the seven million strong trade union movement, backed up by the wider working class.
In The Socialist 26 May 2010:
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