Gordon Brown’s pre-budget report this week has been heralded by the media as marking the end of three decades of Thatcherism.
But that prediction won’t become a reality unless ordinary working people fight for it.
Ever since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 we have heard a neoliberal mantra, first from the Tories and then New Labour.
They told us that free markets should reign, that public spending had to be driven down and that corporations and the rich should be handed tax cuts.
Industries collapsed, jobs were axed and whole communities destroyed – but the neoliberal prescription was kept firmly in place. Now, overnight, it seems all that has changed.
Chancellor Alistair Darling admits that the rich can be taxed, that the state can intervene to save jobs and that we can raise public spending even in a recession.
However what Darling offered in the pre-budget report does not live up to the hype.
His measures do little or nothing to recoup the money lavished on the rich at the expense of the majority of working people. But the government have let the cat out of the bag – free market policies do not work.
The economic crisis is growing daily. Tinkering with VAT rates, offering pensioners a few extra pounds and hoping people will start shopping is not going to solve it – or stop the mounting job massacre.
We must seize the opening offered by Labour to demand much more – and to fight for policies to ensure ordinary people don’t pay for the crisis.
We should point out that Labour could create badly needed jobs and homes – with an immediate programme of council house building.
And we must fight to raise the state pension and to immediately restore the link that guaranteed pensions would rise in line with wages.
Thatcher abolished this link and Brown has promised to restore it – but only in four years’ time.
State funding should be used to save jobs and stop factory closures by nationalising firms that threaten to sack workers.
If we taxed the rich and their corporate profits we could fund homes, pensions and jobs to benefit us all.
That will be a real way in which we could to roll back three decades of Thatcherism.
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