Queen’s Speech – more cuts and sell-offs

Tories attack: Fight back

On the joint Junior doctors and teachers demonstration 26-4-16, photo Paul Mattsson

On the joint Junior doctors and teachers demonstration 26-4-16, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Dave Carr

The Tory government has announced a raft of new bills to extend the privatisation and commercialisation of our public services.

None of the big social problems – such as the housing crisis, the faltering National Health Service, and the prohibitive cost of higher education – will be remedied.

On the contrary, the Cameron government is pressing ahead with the sell-off of more social housing through ‘right to buy’ and increasing council rents through its ‘pay to stay’ measures.

University tuition fees, which were trebled to £9,000 under the previous Tory-led coalition, will be allowed to rise even higher. On top of the scrapping of maintenance grants, fees rises will be a further barrier to students from low-income backgrounds.

And tax-dodging, profit-maximising hi-tech companies like Google and Facebook will be allowed to establish competing universities.

Despite a retreat on forcing all local authority schools to become academies the government is still pressing ahead with its undemocratic, unaccountable, and socially divisive scheme. Academies will certainly boost headteacher salaries, but without a shred of evidence that they improve education standards.

The prisons crisis – record high levels of inmate suicides, overcrowding, increasing violence against staff and prisoners, and a drugs epidemic – will escalate under new legislation to devolve government-squeezed funding to prison governors.

Our democratic rights will also be attacked under plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and curtail free speech, disguised as anti-terrorism measures.

All these attacks are against the background of continuing vicious austerity cuts to our living standards, in order to bail out the super-rich and their failed capitalist system.

But the ability of this weak and divided Tory government to carry out these privatisations and cuts is limited. Since being elected, the Tories have retreated on many issues – including cuts to tax credits and disability payments, Sunday trading and even aspects of its anti-trade union bill. And this has happened despite the lack of a generalised fightback from the trade unions.

The current struggle of the junior doctors to defend the NHS against millionaire minister Jeremy Hunt imposing rotten new contracts – and also the NUT teachers’ union ballot for strike action over academies, workloads and pay – show the groundswell of anger and opposition.

We need more protests, demonstrations and coordinated strike action by workers, students and communities building towards a trade union-led 24-hour general strike, to kick out the hated Tories.