They want to shift the burden of the crisis, with great speed and thoroughness, onto the shoulders of the most vulnerable in society. Derek Simpson, leader of the Unite union, called it “Vintage Thatcher” and even Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf described it as a “bloodbath”.
Osborne’s references to protecting the poorest were pathetic sops to the supposed sensitivities of the Lib Dems – whose collusion made this onslaught possible. They also say everything about where Osborne thinks public opinion is.
But mealy-mouthed platitudes from a Tory millionaire will not be enough to ease the stomachs of Lib Dem voters watching their party act as Osborne’s honour guard. Nor will they reassure people whose jobs, incomes and services have been targeted as being less valued than investment banks.
The budget is a gamble because it risks pushing the economy into another, possibly even deeper, recession. People with less money can’t do as much spending.
Another danger for the government is that this budget, and the further cuts we are promised, are so blatantly driven by the needs of the rich that workers will be provoked to fight back. As Wolf wrote: “If public sector unrest and a weakening economy bite in the next few years, bravery is going to look close to foolhardiness.”
On budget day trade unionists, pensioners and students protested outside town halls across the country. Activists everywhere need to get organised.
The Right to Work campaign callout for a mass protest outside the Tory Party conference on 3 October in Birmingham is an opportunity to bring together all those who want to resist.
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