George Osborne’s spending cuts are a declaration of brutal class war.
The Tories deliberately set out to hammer down the living standards of workers and the poor in order to fatten profits and enrich the bankers and the bosses.
Commentators sometimes say that the Tories’ plans are “as harsh as Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s”.
They are not. They are far worse.
They are much deeper than the vicious Conservatives attempted 30 years ago.
That’s why there has to be a wave of serious resistance, or the Eton boys will trample on our class.
We need to be on the streets of every town and city this week—and opposing every cut locally.
But we also need to raise the tempo of the struggle and be pushing for national action.
That means organising now in every workplace and community, to build for the level of strikes and protests that have burst out so powerfully in France.
The rich love Osborne’s cuts. The chief executives who live in obscene luxury will smile at the news that the unemployed will be pressed even further into poverty and that workers will see meagre wages squeezed harder.
In Monday’s Daily Telegraph 35 business leaders signed a letter backing the cuts.
What a bloody insult that men who signed the letter such as Ben Gordon, top boss at Mothercare (salary £6,458,000) and Paul Walsh of Diageo (wage £3,178,000) should demand that the government hurries up with crushing the poorest.
Research by the TUC showed the 35 signatories had combined annual salaries of over £14.6 million.
They won’t worry about £10 a week off their benefits, getting behind with the rent, or whether they can buy their child a winter coat.
A government study last week showed that a fifth of seven-year-olds in Britain live in “severe poverty” with both parents together earning less than £254 a week—including all benefits.
Shockingly it discovered that 7 percent of children have only one pair of shoes.
Socialist Worker went to press before Osborne spoke, but we can guarantee that such figures will now worsen.
Let’s be clear what this is about. The capitalist system went into recession, freezing the financial system and hurling millions into unemployment.
Governments across the world stepped in to hand thousands of billions to bankers. In Britain they received £1.4 trillion—around 16 times the amount that Osborne set out to cut in his review this week.
Now the bills for the crisis are being paid—not by those who caused the mess, but by its victims.
Thrown on the dole by the recession? Now you must get less. Disabled or sick? Now you must be hounded by assessment teams and driven on to lower benefits. Working on an average wage? Now you must abandon hope of a decent pension and see your pay frozen or cut.
But Osborne is not only out to slash tens of billions of pounds from benefits, pay and the services that working people rely on. The Tories also want to reshape society in the interests of capital.
So not only will rents rise, but council tenants also face being thrown out of their homes if they pass a income threshold handed down by a cabinet of millionaires.
Not only will colleges be cut, but education will be driven towards what business leaders want taught.
There’s privatisation of the Royal Mail and of the core of the NHS. There are academies and other elite schools instead of comprehensives. And there’s a relentless ideological assault to define who are—and who are not—the “deserving poor”.
Labour is right to point out that the cuts threaten a new recession. It is economic lunacy that when cuts deepen a downturn, it leads to calls for more cuts.
But these attacks cannot be opposed by an argument based on what is best for the bosses’ economy. This is not a technical matter of economic policies, it is a political choice. It is about the Tories’ ideological embrace of class war.
It must be fought as such. In Greece and France we can see inspiring mass mobilisations against cuts.
The ruling class across Europe is watching carefully for the outcome—learning from one another, and urging each other on. Workers must do the same.
As well as the demonstrations this week we need the biggest possible support for every group of workers who fight, resistance in every workplace and community, anti-cuts groups in every town, a stronger Right to Work campaign, and a refusal to let the government divide us between black or white, public or private sector, working or unemployed.
We need revolt on a scale that can beat back these filthy Tories—and to get that the resistance needs to be as broadly based as possible.
It is a disgrace that new Labour leader Ed Miliband did not take part in a major union-organised rally on Tuesday. This is despite saying he “definitely” would attend when he was hunting for trade unionists’ votes in the Labour leadership contest in September.
However, many Labour supporters will want to be part of the anti-cuts movement. Our anti-cuts campaigns must be open to them.
The Tories have declared war on our class. Now is the time to return fire.
Join these protests
Tens of thousands of people were set to protest, march and rally this Saturday, 23 October, against the Tories’ brutal cuts.
Scotland-wide STUC protest in Edinburgh: There is a Better Way march and rally. Assemble East Market Street, Edinburgh, 11am for rally at Ross Bandstand at 12.30pm. Coaches from across Scotland—for details go to www.thereisabetterway.org
Birmingham protest at 12.30pm, Victoria Square
Bristol demonstration and rally, Castle Park, Broadmead, assemble 11.00am for march through Bristol centre. Rally: College Green, 12 noon
Cambridge assemble 12 noon at Parkside Fire Station, rally at 1.30pm at Cambridge Guildhall
Cardiff march against cuts, assemble Cardiff City Hall, 12 noon
Leeds assemble Victoria Gardens (outside the art gallery), Headrow, Leeds, 12 noon
Lincoln assemble Castle Square, march to rally in the Cornhill, 12 noon
London march against the cuts, assemble outside the RMT head office, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD at 11am. 12.30pm rally—Organising to defeat cuts in public services. Congress House, Great Russell Street. Go to www.tuc.org.uk/sertucevents
Manchester protest outside the BBC from 12 noon
Norwich protest against austerity, meet Hay Hill 12.30pm
Plymouth petitioning and campaigning with charities, campaign groups and trade unions. Meet at the Sundial in the city centre from 12 noon
Portsmouth “There is an Alternative” demonstration, 11.30am Guildhall Square
Yorkshire & Humber regional protest in Sheffield city centre, meet outside the Town Hall, 12.30pm. Sheffield Right to Work feeder march, meet outside Sheffield University student union on the concourse at 11am
York march and rally in the city centre, assemble 1pm in Parliament Street