Socialist Worker

Shameful record of 1980s

Issue No. 1671

GORDON BROWN surpassed himself this week, even by the craven standards set by New Labour. He stood before the bosses gathered at the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and announced £40 million of public money to encourage share handouts to fat cats. At the same time New Labour was hoping to ram welfare cuts of tens of millions of pounds through parliament. Brown also praised the bosses' hero at the CBI. 'People say that in the 1980s Mrs Thatcher created an enterprising society,' declared Brown. 'We must do far better than we have in the past. We must go beyond what we achieved in the 1980s.'

What 'WE' achieved in the 1980s! Who is this WE? And what were Thatcher's 'achievements'?

  • A record gap between rich and poor, and levels of poverty not seen for generations.

  • The decimation of manufacturing industry and the growth of mass unemployment.

  • The shackling of the trade unions through repeated pieces of legislation and the brutal assault on the miners in 1984.

  • The systematic underfunding of health and education, and the deadly privatisation of public utilities and the railways.

    We got a reminder of the Tories' savagery when the closure of Ellington Colliery, the last pit in the north east of England, was announced this week. It is to be closed despite the fact that there is plenty of coal, plenty of people who need coal and plenty of people prepared to dig coal. Talk of 'enterprise' from Brown means just the same as it did under the Tories - profit before all else.

    The government so fears dissent from its own backbenches that MPs were not allowed to discuss welfare, the Asylum Bill or the House of Lords on Monday of this week. Instead they spent the whole afternoon discussing whether House of Commons documents should be printed on paper or vellum (stretched goatskin to the rest of us). Our message to Brown is no, thank you. We do not want any more talk of 'enterprise'. The majority of working class people in this country want an end to Tory policies, whether from their originators or their cheapskate imitators.

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    Article information

    What We Think
    Sat 6 Nov 1999, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1671
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