Boris Johnson’s promise this week of a “new deal” marked the latest dishonest move in a decade of Tory austerity.
The prime minister announced a “New Deal” to tackle “the country’s “great unresolved challenges of the last three decades”.
He had earlier cast himself as a modern-day Franklin D Roosevelt the US president who ploughed money into jobs schemes and the welfare state in order to boost capitalism.
“It sounds positively Rooseveltian,” Johnson said of his plans on Monday. “It sounds like a New Deal.”
When it came to the actual speech, he did not refer to himself or his plan as Rooseveltian but he did say “I am not a communist”.
The infrastructure boost comes to £5 billion and isn’t new money.
Jude Brimble, national secretary of the GMB union said, “Five billion pounds sounds like a lot—but in infrastructure terms it’s just a drop in the ocean.
“It wouldn’t even meet half the cost of filling in the potholes in England and Wales.”
Responding to the announcement of “extra” money for housing, Polly Neate from the housing charity Shelter said, “Despite all the bluster about building new homes, the prime minister has today cut his government’s housebuilding budget by a third each year.
"It's quite incredible that the he thinks he can build more homes with less money.”
The investment is rehashed from Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget in March.
This began to raise public sector net investment from around 2 percent of national income to 3 percent.
Yet despite the launching of some infrastructure projects there has been sluggish investment since the Tories came to office in 2010.
The bosses’ Financial Times newspaper says, “Although the money announced by Mr Johnson will be new for the recipients of the cash—with individual projects to be identified—it has already been scheduled into the economy.”
But there is more to it than just Tory spin.
The Tories presented themselves as “anti-establishment” at the general election, promising a “People’s Government”.
The pandemic has shown that forests of magic money trees are available when it’s necessary to save the system.
At the beginning of the crisis, Sunak announced £550 billion in bailouts for businesses.
The government said it could house thousands of homeless people in hotels and put in a furlough scheme that saw the state subsidise wages.
Investors JP Morgan Asset Management estimated this week that central banks across the world had poured £14,000 billion into the system to aid big business.
There is a widespread feeling of not wanting to go back to business as usual—and the Tories know it.
So they are nervous about simply announcing more austerity.
But the money they promise will mainly be to bail out the system, not for the pay, benefits and key services that people need.
The TUC union federation is hoping for a great coming together of bosses, unions and states.
It has a plan for a “better economy” and said, “government action must be ambitious, far-reaching and fast”.
But if politicians and bosses have their way, it will be working class people who pay for the pandemic. It will take a fight against the logic of the profit system to win a sustainable, zero carbon economy that puts workers first.
To win a new deal, we need action in the streets and workplaces.