The pretence is over. All the main parties spent the election campaign carefully avoiding any talk of their plans for massive cuts to public spending.
But now the axe is sharpened and the cuts are set to fall rapidly. The new Tory chancellor George Osborne and his Lib Dem bag carrier, the new chief secretary to the treasury David Laws, will announce £6 billion of “efficiency savings” on Monday of next week.
That is around £1 in every £100 the government spends.
While these will be cuts Labour had already planned, they are being brought forward. It is the opening shot of the main barrage of tax rises and vicious cuts to come.
An emergency budget will take place on 22 June, followed by an autumn spending review that will announce the swathes of cuts each government department will make.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies says the Tory plans will lead to cutting a quarter of the budget of non-protected departments by 2015. This would be the biggest reduction in public spending since the Second World War.
The press this week made much of former Labour treasury minister Liam Byrne’s note for his Lib Dem successor saying “I’m afraid there’s no money. Good luck.”
But Britain is a country with vast wealth—for those at the top. Despite a 5 percent cut to ministers’ pay, David Cameron will take home £142,500—down from £150,000. Despite mutterings about unacceptable bankers’ bonuses the pain will not be spread equally.
The government is set to launch a massive attack on the welfare state, public sector jobs and workers’ living standards.
Yet they have no popular mandate for this assault. And the audience for a fightback goes far beyond those who voted for left wing candidates inside or outside Labour.
A revealing post-election survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner said, “The voters that gave the government its mandate also want more financial regulation, not less; more government involvement, not more markets; taxes rather than public service cuts; and more government investment, not more freedom of enterprise.”
It showed 80 percent of people support taxing the rich and a “bold attack on inequality”.
The government will be very nasty but also very weak. That means we can beat it. Resistance has already stopped planned cuts at London’s Whittington hospital, and scored a victory in Camden, where no more council houses will be sold off.
We need a mass movement of resistance to take on the attacks. It needs to be broadly based and to take steps to organise now.
That is one reason why this Saturday’s Right to Work conference is important. The campaign will hold a protest on the day of Osborne’s emergency budget. And it will organise a national demonstration at the Tory party conference on 3 October in Birmingham.
We will need more protests like these and socialists must place themselves at the centre of every fightback against the cuts coalition’s rampage against services.
We need to spread the message: resistance works.