Socialist Worker

How New Labour pandering has given Tories and bosses a boost

by Chris Bambery
Issue No. 2144

Gordon Brown wants working class people to pay for the government’s growing budget deficit by cutting pay, slashing jobs and axing services.

Now some of Britain’s lowest paid workers face losing money.

It was reported this week that ministers will renege on a three-year pay deal for more than one million NHS staff. The pay award, which is worth just 2.2 percent this year, could be cut to almost zero in 2010.

Meanwhile treasury chief secretary Yvette Cooper announced a cut in public spending of £5 billion, on top of £30 billion that has already been agreed. Thousands of civil service jobs are at risk.

The government says that public sector workers must feel the same pain as those in the private sector. The International Monetary Fund agrees – it joined the chorus, warning that Britain faces the worst budget deficit, and the longest recession, of any western country.

On cue the Tories shifted from their “nice” agenda to one that accuses the government of being too soft.

New Labour’s acceptance of this right wing agenda has only encouraged big business to demand more.


Bosses’ organisations are now calling for cuts in corporation tax, and for a planned rise in employer’s national insurance contributions be put on ice.

They argue that the economic crisis can only be reversed by lifting the tax burden on businesses.

But slashing jobs and pay, while cutting taxes for the rich, will ensure that unemployment continues to spiral and that services crumble.

And while the wealthy will celebrate a windfall, the attacks will hit workers – whether in the public or private sector.

The threat to jobs comes as a key policy maker at the Bank of England warns that last week’s rise in unemployment to over two million was just “the taste of something horrible” to come.

Pointing to a likely surge in the unemployment figures in June, when young people leave school and college, he argued the government should take immediate measures to create jobs.

Yet job creation is a long way from the government’s agenda.

Ministers and employers hope that fear of unemployment can be used to make all working class people pay for the recession – with pensions now likely to face a renewed assault.

As any defeat for public sector workers will encourage new attacks on workers in the private sector, it is vital that our unions act to stop the bosses from playing divide and rule.

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Tue 24 Mar 2009, 17:56 GMT
Issue No. 2144
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