Socialist Worker

What really happened to our pensions?

Issue No. 2045

The Tories and most of the press want you to believe that the reason you’ve lost your pension is because of Gordon Brown’s tax changes in 1997.

In fact Brown’s decision to take away a tax advantage for shareholders is about the only good thing he has done in the last decade.

The crisis in private sector pensions is the result of companies that took pension holidays in the 1990s and the rush to cut costs in order to boost profits and fatten bosses’ salaries.

Brown has wrecked pensions, but not in the way the right pretend.

The cuts in public sector pensions flow from other political decisions – New Labour’s neoliberal determination to slash welfare in favour of measures such as cuts in corporation tax and a rise in the budget for war.

The collapse of the state pension is also Labour’s fault. Had Brown restored the link between the state pension and earnings when Labour came to power in 1997, the state pension would now be £19.50 a week higher. Instead he meekly followed where the Tories had led and allowed the state pension to wither further.

The argument about the 1997 budget is a distraction which obscures the real issues about the fight for the future of our pensions.

25 years after the war

Give the Falklands back

Twenty five years ago Socialist Worker refused to defend British ownership of the Falklands and opposed Margaret Thatcher’s war to wrest back control from the Argentinians.

Today taking a clear anti-war position might not seem unusual, but in 1982 we were one of few voices, even on the left, to oppose Thatcher’s war.

Tony Blair did criticise the decision to dispatch the task force, but the reaction to his words seems to have made him a fervent convert to the cause of war.

Twenty five years ago the war in the South Atlantic seemed a throwback to a bygone imperial age. In hindsight it was part of a process where war became more and more central to the global capitalist system.

The justification for war offered by Thatcher and Labour’s then leader Michael Foot compared the Argentinian military regime to Hitler and attacked opponents of war for appeasing fascism. The same arguments have been paraded for each of the five wars Tony Blair has taken us into since coming to office.

The Falklands are a colonial possession, seized and re-won by force of arms. They should be returned to Argentina.

US elections

What price for power?

The best democracy money can buy?

In the first three months of this year Hillary Clinton raised an incredible $26 million towards her campaign to be US president.

Next year will see the most expensive election campaign in US history. The cash being raised by presidential contenders is soaring into the stratosphere. Clinton’s main Democratic rival Barack Obama has reportedly raised $20 million in the same time span.

The Republican frontrunner in this financial race is Mitt Romney, who made his pile as a venture capitalist. He has raised nearly $21 million since the start of the year and is “lending” his campaign over $2 million.

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Article information

What We Think
Sat 7 Apr 2007, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2045
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