Build mass opposition to defeat these attacks
The millionaire ConDem government have “unleashed hell” on working and middle class families, the unemployed, millions who rely on benefits to survive and all those who work in or rely on public services.
In the severest austerity budget since the Second World War, £40 billion in spending cuts and tax increases have been announced. Many essential public services are set to be cut by a colossal 25% over the next four years, including in local government and education. £5 billion is likely to be slashed from the Scottish parliaments budget between 2011 and 2014. This will decimate jobs and vital public services. A minimum estimate of the effects of these cuts would be 30,000 to 60,000 jobs lost in local government in Scotland and 700,000 across the public sector in Britain as a whole.
VAT is to rise by 2.5% to 20% - heavily penalising the poorest and the low paid. Public sector workers are facing a two year pay freeze – effectively pay cuts. In Scotland the employers, CoSLA, have already declared three years of planned cuts up to March 2013. £11 billion is to be slashed from benefits – with more to come. In a scandalous move child benefit will be frozen for three years, while all other benefits will only “rise” by the CPI rate of inflation, which completely underestimates the real increases in the cost of living for ordinary familes. Disability Living Allowance will be made even harder to qualify for and tax credits for working families on £40,000 or more will be cut.
In contrast the rich elite, the capitalists, bankers and billionaires who created the economic crisis and who are still living in unimagined luxury on the back of record bonuses, can’t believe their luck. Their reward for creating the biggest recession since the 1930’s ? A 4% cut in corporation tax, pitiful rises in Capital Gains tax and a banking levy that is barely the equivalent of one year’s bonuses for the fat cat bankers.
All in all Cameron and Osborne now dubbed as “Vatman and Robbin” are guilty of attacking the victims while protecting the real criminals. Tory chancellor Osborne piously commented that, “we all need to share the burden.” But this budget, the spending review in October and the hatchet being wielded over public sector pensions, shows that the burden is to be carried by the vast majority of the population – not the pampered, millionaire elite that the Tory/Lib Dem government represent.
As Bob Crow, leader of the RMT union commented: “Despite all the hype about sharing the pain this is without a doubt a budget for the rich. The champagne corks will be popping in the City bars tonight as the bankers and speculators realise that they have got away with the biggest financial heist on the British people in the history of our nation. Instead of sharing the pain, it’s the poorest who take the hit while the greedy elite who drove our economy over a cliff fly off to the tax havens to bank the bail-out cash that could have been used to protect jobs, schools and hospitals.
Moreover this budget, in taking more than £40 billion out of the economy in cuts and tax rises, will push the weak and fragile capitalist economy into a new recession. The meagre growth predicted for this year, 1.2%, is primarily based on what is left of the state stimulus, not a real recovery in the private sector or a pick-up in investment into production by the capitalists. The brutal austerity budget will choke off spending and drive the economy back into a new downturn.
The impact of this budget and its implications will provoke mass opposition among trade unionists, working class communities, the unemployed and low paid workers. Like the poll tax in the late 1980’s introduced by Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the ConDem coalition has decided to take us all on at once. But the mass opposition that defeated the poll tax and Thatcher needed organisation and leadership. This battle will need the same.
As Brian Smith, secretary of Glasgow Unison speaking at the budget day protest in Glasgow said; “The trade unions, workers and local communities must now organise a mass campaign of resistance to the ConDem Government's proposed cuts.
“Local anti-cuts groups and defend services networks must be established to co-ordinated the fightback in our towns and cities. Trade union branches should call open public meetings to assist in the development of such groups and networks.
“At a national level the trade union leaders must match their fine words and "alternative anti-cuts budgets" with action. The Scottish Trade Union Congress demo in October is a start but the trade union leaders must also inspire and give confidence to the wider trade union membership to fight local cuts in services and take national action to protect jobs, pay, pensions and welfare benefits. We need national joint trade union industrial action to force back the ConDem Government.