Socialist Worker

A nightmare vision of Britain if we don't fight the cuts

It’s 2015. We didn’t manage to stop the Tory cuts and they’ve left Britain devastated. This would be our future

Issue No. 2225

It could have been stopped. But here we are in 2015, in a future where Osborne and his Tory friends got their way and slashed public services down to almost nothing.

In London, at least 200,000 ordinary people have been expelled from the inner London boroughs.

At best, they are living in B&Bs on the outskirts of London.

They are allowed to come in to work in the coffee shops and the burger bars, but as night falls they have to start their long journey back to their run down estates on the city’s fringes.

Just to travel on a train to work each day now costs them a quarter of their income.

Few workers can afford to live in most of London because of market rents and housing benefit cuts.

But in order to work in the shiny shopping malls, you have to get to work on time. So some sleep on the street.

Thousands of homeless people congregate around the underpasses and tourist attractions.

Congregate

Up and down the country, the picture is the same. Block after block of empty apartments, failed monuments to the “boom”, lie unfinished, unloved and un-lived in.

Squatting in their once-plush foyers are the young, the poor and the incapacitated.

Five years ago, many of them thought they had a secure job, if not well paid, and even a pension. Now they have nothing.

For four million or more there is no job at all. Most of the colleges are closed—and the ones that are left are too expensive to get into.

It wasn’t just that the Tories cut housing benefit or that they cut incapacity benefit—it was that they restructured our society to fit their vision. Britain today is a place where the rich live behind gates while the poor live in the gutters.

The question is not whether or when the double dip hit the economy, because for most it just got worse.

What we saw was a process where everything was put at the whim of the private sector.

The typical town has little left. The residential care home is shut. The after school club is shut. The library is shut.

Instead we have “easyCouncils” and monster regional merged “supercouncils” with outsourced call centres, where non-union members on the minimum wage tell you your service is now unavailable for the category you are in.

Virtual

The old and infirm had nowhere to go. The councils turned themselves from providers of essential services into “virtual councils”, providing little more than business opportunities for private firms.

The promised “big society” didn’t happen—not least as the charities that were supposed to pick up the pieces instead of the welfare state had their funding cut in half.

In 2013, the Institute of Directors got their way.

Even though the court injunctions and the cowardice of the trade union leaders had stopped most calls for strikes, the anti-union laws were made more draconian.

So instead we watched the champagne-quaffing chauffeured City fat cats repeat the profiteering mistakes of the past.

Profits are high, bonuses are up, the spending review was a success, they said. And if it all goes too far, it’s the working class who will pay, again and again.

It could have been stopped. It has to be stopped.


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