Socialist Worker

Labour bottles election to give itself more time to implement its neoliberal ‘vision’

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2072

After weeks of speculation Gordon Brown last week announced that he would not call a general election this autumn.

He claimed he wanted a chance to show the country his “vision for change” and to further develop his policies before calling an election.

In reality, he cancelled the election plans after his Blairite campaigning spun out of control.

Brown’s daytrip to Baghdad and Basra in the middle of the Conservative Party conference last week backfired after he made an announcement about troop cuts that turned out to be less than half of what he said it was.

The obsession with polls meant that any resurgence by the Tories would scare Brown off.

Brown’s carefully worked out strategy of appealing further and further to the right achieved two things.

First, Brown’s constant right wing rhetoric meant that political debate was all on the Tories’ ground of immigration and “law and order”.

Second, it was clearly alienating Labour supporters.

While the media make much of Brown seeing off crises during the summer, his public sector pay limits have led to huge anger.

They have seen ongoing strikes by postal workers and the prospect of strikes next month in local government.

Brown said, “I do not only want to explain the vision. I want to implement the vision.”

As Socialist Worker went to press the government was outlining its spending plans for the next few years.

The spending review showed that Brown’s “vision” is as neoliberal as ever.

The spending review is the method by which the government sets the limits for all public spending.

It creates the targets that workers will be told they have no choice but to meet.

Treasury forecasts show that planned rises in public spending by the government will slow – from an average of 4 percent per year since 1999 to 2 percent per year until 2011.

The treasury says it will “identify what further investments and reforms are needed to equip the UK for the global challenges of the decade ahead”.

While chancellor Alistair Darling can talk of closing a number of tax loopholes, the Labour government has slashed taxes on profits.

Much of the spin over the comprehensive spending review is about new money for public services.

But the reality is that Brown’s government is slashing public spending because of the low taxes the bosses pay.

When inflation is taken into account the home office, the ministry of justice and nine other departments will have to face spending cuts of 2.6 percent a year.

Even where there is extra money it will not repair the damage done by years of cuts.

For instance, the “rise” in NHS spending means a tighter budget than last year.

That budget led to 21,000 job cuts.

Since 2002, the NHS has experienced average annual real terms increases of more than 7 percent.

This is expected to fall to between 3 and 3.5 percent between 2011 and 2012.

This is also in sharp contrast to the recommendations of the Wanless review, published in 2002.

It said that spending on the NHS should be boosted by 4.4 percent a year over the five years from 2007-8.

The proposed spending increase on education is much less than is needed even to repair school buildings.

Across the public sector there will be cuts.

This means that the Health and Safety Executive and care for the elderly will be underfunded.

Increasing the private sector’s involvement in every aspect of public services is the government’s only “solution” to any shortfall.

The generals will no doubt complain of a lack of funds, but the one thing Gordon Brown has always been able to do is find cash for is war.

Labour’s commitment to the market means real cuts in jobs and services for us all.

But the growing resistance by postal workers and others in the public sector show that Labour is not going to get things all its own way.

For more on the election see » Tory tax plans expose Gordon Brown and » Gordon Brown triangulates himself into a corner over election


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Article information

Comment
Tue 9 Oct 2007, 18:07 BST
Issue No. 2072
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.