Millions of working people in Britain are seeing their living standards nosedive as inflation soars and their pay crumbles. More than two and a half million are out of work and forced to scrape a living on poverty benefits.
Thousands of young people never even get the chance to work because the jobs aren’t there—and they can’t go to college because the government has priced them out.
Meanwhile, the Tories give a leg up to the kids of their millionaire backers by selling them exclusive internships with City hedge funds, and the banks make billions.
The Tories say “we” must all make sacrifices to pay off the budget deficit. In reality the millionaire boys’ club that runs Britain is getting richer by the day—and it wants to squeeze us harder.
Inflation figures out this week show that the official cost of living, the CPI measure of inflation, is up to 4 percent.
The real rate is even higher. The CPI measure doesn’t include housing costs—which make up a rising proportion of expenditure. The RPI measure, which does include housing costs, has risen to 5.1 percent.
It’s terrifying news for those of us already struggling to make ends meet. But not everyone is in the same fix.
The government and its boss friends live in a different world to the rest of us.
The Tories auctioned their hedge fund internships at an exclusive party. Millionaires paid around £3,000 each to get their children into top finance companies and banks—opening the door to a lifetime of wealth and privilege.
And this week banks began releasing their profit figures for 2010.
Barclays made £6 billion—this is a third higher than in 2009. The average salary for bankers at Barclays Capital, the investment wing, soared to £236,000—from £191,000 in 2009.
Chancellor George Osborne’s “Project Merlin”, sold as a strategy for clamping down on the bankers, is an attempt to deflect the deep anger that exists towards the banks away from the government.
But the government is taking a gamble. It hopes that it can use the threat of utter destitution, combined with the ideology of the “national interest”, to force us to accept savage cuts.
Yet as David Cameron admitted this week, “It will not make us popular. It will make us unpopular. It will make me unpopular.”
He went on to add, “I don’t care.” But maybe he should.
More and more people say that the Tories don’t need to make any cuts—and they are resisting. This week, councillors in Barnet were forced to abandon a meeting after just 45 minute when 150 angry residents piled into it.
Police and security were called to the meeting on Monday evening, which was meant to discuss closing children’s centres and attacking sheltered housing for older people.
Hundreds protested in Norfolk on the same day against the council’s £60 million cuts package.
More furious people blockaded Cambridgeshire county council on Tuesday morning in protest at cuts.
Every week, thousands take part in protests and rallies in towns and cities across Britain to defend their jobs and services—and the numbers are growing.
Others occupy high street shops against tax evasion and students continue to demonstrate on their campuses against attacks on education.
Increasingly, groups of workers are saying they want strikes to stop the cuts.
Strikes are spreading across schools in defence of jobs and against academies. There are strike ballots in a number of councils (see article right).
A number of public sector unions are talking of co-ordinated strikes to defend pensions.
This week, the PCS civil service workers’ union announced that it will hold an industrial action ballot of 15,000 members over job cuts and victimisations at the Home Office.
And we can build monster demonstration next month at the TUC protest in central London on 26 March.
Coaches and trains are coming from every town and city in Britain and every trade union has booked transport.
It will take more than a march to stop the Tories. But a huge protest can transform the mood in Britain and give confidence to workers to fight back.
TUC march for the alternative, 11am, Saturday 26 March, Victoria Embankment, London