The Tories want to make ordinary people pay for the Covid-19 crisis.
They plan to impose up to £30 billion worth of tax rises and spending cuts, according to a leaked Treasury document.
Government officials sought to play down the importance of the document, saying it was “speculation” to claim that the policy suggestions would be enacted. One said there were many similar documents setting out ideas about future policy.
But this underlines how a weak government tries out ideas and probably deliberately leaks some to gauge what they might be able to ram through later.
That is why this needs the strongest possible rejection.
The document, dated 5 May, proposed sweeping tax rises on national insurance, VAT and income tax to raise “fiscally significant amounts”.
It laid out savage austerity, including pension cuts and a two-year public sector pay freeze, to “enhance credibility and boost investor confidence”.
This will mean cutting the pay and pensions of the key workers that the Tories line up to applaud every Thursday night at 8pm.
Austerity fatally undermined the response to coronavirus, now the Tories want more of it.
The document predicted a budget deficit of £337 billion—more than double the annual deficit after the financial crash a decade ago.
“As debt is likely to reach significantly higher levels after the crisis, it will be important to stabilise the debt-to-GDP ratio and prevent debt from continuing to grow on an unsuitable trajectory,” it said.
Matt Wrack, firefighters’ union FBU general secretary said, “Now, once again, the Tories are preparing to make the same workers pay for another crisis they did not cause.
“the government is talking about dishing out medals to key workers in one breath, whilst planning pay cuts for them in another.
“We will fight any attempt to make those who see us through the coronavirus crisis pay for it.”
The document is the first warning shot from a government ready to of double down on the savage austerity that has caused destruction for a decade.
Tory transport minister Grant Shapps said, “We are only part way through this crisis.
“We’ll deal with everything else once we know the full cost of it but we can’t know that until we know how long the tail of this virus is.”
The leaked document shows the battles to come—and that there is no time to waste for an explosion of resistance to beat back their attacks.
Ordinary people can win through organised mass resistance and action by workers, but it will need more than warm words from the leadership of the trade unions.
Getting behind those fighting against the dangerous return to work is a good first step.
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