Socialist Worker

Money for pensions, not war

Issue No. 1980

New Labour ministers have queued up to welcome the pensions report produced by former top boss Lord Adair Turner.

Turner wants us to work till we are at least 67 before we claim a state pension, part of a package of proposals that Tony Blair greeted as “very exciting”.

The demand that we work longer and harder to pay for our retirement is in stark contrast to the bottomless pit that exists to fund the occupation of Iraq.

On Monday of this week, Gordon Brown’s pre-budget report increased the funding for the war and occupation by over 80 percent.

Brown has now allocated £5.5 billion — money that could be put towards tackling pensioner poverty, or which could have funded the building of about 57 new hospitals. This official figure grossly underestimates the real cost of the war.

Brown faced derision following his speech, during which he admitted that he had massively overestimated prospects for British economic growth.

The chancellor wants workers and pensioners to pay the price as the economic picture darkens.

As we show in this week’s Socialist Worker, the handouts and tax breaks for the millionaires will continue, while the millions suffer deepening poverty (see page three).

As one commentator wrote of Brown in the Times, “To make the budget numbers add up, he will have to work even harder than Mr Blair to turn New Labour into a modern Whig party of capitalism, moderate taxation and a limited welfare state.”

We need action now to fight to stop Brown and Blair’s neo-liberal agenda. European unions have held major strikes in Italy, Spain, Greece, Belgium and Germany over pensions. British workers can do the same here.

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