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Workers can end the austerity offensive

This article is over 9 years, 3 months old
Issue 2444
Public sector strikers rally together in south London on 10 July
Public sector strikers rally together in south London on 10 July (Pic: Xanthe Whittaker)

The war of the billboard posters has begun and the media is stuffed with arguments about the TV election debates. 

But all this froth shouldn’t distract from the Tories’ sinister plans if they win May’s general election. 

The Tories have made no secret of the fact that they would stick to their brutal austerity drive. In fact, they’re planning £70 billion of even more devastating cuts if they get in again.

They don’t even claim the cuts are necessary to keep the economy afloat—they’re actually aiming to have a budget surplus.

The price will be paid by the tens of thousands who’ll lose their jobs and have their pay, pensions and local services slashed. 

The Tories have been using the global crash as cover for attacks on workers’ living standards and the welfare state that previous Tory governments could have only dreamt about. 

Yet in the face of this, all Labour is willing to offer is its own version of austerity. 

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls promises “sensible spending cuts” that will be “fair”. So instead of 30,000 jobs going in the civil service, Labour says it would cut a mere 20,000. 

Labour’s spending cuts will still be upwards of £7 billion and it wouldn’t close any of David Cameron’s planned 500 Free schools. 

There needs to be a left alternative in the general election that rejects austerity and racism. 

That’s why the Socialist Workers Party is supporting parliamentary candidates who are part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). 

Those imposing austerity are never the ones who suffer under its burden. Some even benefitted from the crisis.  A new Social Market Foundation report shows that the richest 20 percent’s wealth rose by a staggering 64 percent in the last decade. 

The poorest 20 percent became 57 percent poorer during the same period. 

The same report pointed out that, since the crisis began, people have faced the “longest period of falling wages since records began”. 

So the problem is not a lack of wealth. It is just that wealth is ever more concentrated in the hands of a rich minority—and they will do everything they can to hang onto it. 

That’s why the rich employ armies of accountants and lawyers. 

They need help to stash their cash in Swiss bank accounts, pretend companies and off shore trusts to avoid paying taxes—taxes which could fund public services. 

Austerity is not inevitable—it’s part of a ruling class offensive. The rich are trying to rescue their crisis-ridden system by squeezing workers to boost their profits. 

But workers have the power to end austerity—and the system it is trying to save. 

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