Who benefits from Austerity?

“Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains”. Karl Marx



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Great day on Sat 21 June in London and proud to have joined the demonstration a few things struck my mind whilst returning from the rally on the train:

1) Whilst it was good to see so many people there from the trade unions movements, lower paid, and lower middle class all coming together to send a clear message to this coalition austerity plan is hurting but not working and how will this now translate into Labour votes in 2015.

2) Why is there so much resentment for this coalition and why has the Conservatives and LibDems have not done so well in the recent European and Local Government Elections 2014. People are more concern of their own bread and butter issues that it then becomes agonizing to chose to put food on the table to feed their children while the adults do without food and start to but their pride aside and approach mom and dad for that extra support from or join the queue of the nearest food bank?

4) A recent report from Trade Union Congress(TUC) which stipulates that the Department for Work and Pensions disputed the statistics cited in the report, saying it was comparing the current situation with the economic boom years of the late 1990s.

The report – which follows a study of employment rates for different groups of people in the UK – says young people outside full-time education are now less likely to have a job than workers aged 50-64.

It says the situation is a “remarkable” turnaround from 1998, when they were 25% more likely to be in work than workers in this age bracket.

The report says fewer than half of those who have no qualifications are in work, while the employment rate for people with basic qualifications had fallen to about 63%.

It said employment rates have improved for single parents, older people, black and Asian employees and disabled people over the last 17 years – although they too remain less likely to find jobs.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said government ministers seemed “keener on kicking struggling youngsters when they’re down and removing the safety net they need to learn new skills and find work”.

“We need to increase funding for employment programmes, for example by guaranteeing a job or training to any young person who’s been out of work for six months or more.

“Spending more money on jobs support now will save money in the long run by getting more people in work and paying taxes,” she said. 

She said that although “times have been tough for young people in the jobs market”, their prospects were “better now than in any other recent recovery”.

“Young people who aren’t studying full time have a higher employment rate than any other group the TUC lists and it’s a credit to every single young person grasping the opportunities that are out there that they’ve been able to do that,” she said.

Nearly three quarters of the public believe the political parties are designing health policy to win votes, and not what is best for the NHS, a poll has suggested.

The survey of almost 2,000 people in the UK found 73% were sceptical about the motivation of politicians.

One in four also said they were dissatisfied with the way the NHS was being run.

The survey was commissioned by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The poll carried out by Ipsos Mori also found two-thirds wanted the NHS to manage itself without the involvement of politicians.

Another 46% also said politicians should have low or no involvement in how the NHS is run.

That was one of the aims of the reforms introduced by Andrew Lansley when he was health secretary.

But commentators have noted that since Jeremy Hunt has replaced him there has been a push to retain a much more hands-on approach.

5) BMA leader Dr Mark Porter, speaking ahead of the four-day conference which gets under way in Harrogate later, said: “The government promised to remove micromanagement from the NHS and yet the opposite has happened.

“There are even claims that NHS England, set up to be independent of Whitehall, is being manipulated for political purposes.”

He also mentioned a key policy put forward by Labour – the pledge to offer GP appointments within 48 hours – adding: “Patient care is taking a back seat to scoring points over the dispatch box.”

Dr Porter said “doctors want to see politics taken out of the NHS once and for all”, saying it was “clear that the public feel the same way”.

“Yes, politicians should be accountable for the running of the NHS, but when it comes to decisions of patient care it is time to allow doctors to do what they do best – lead the delivery of high quality patient care,” he added.

6) So where is the difference today? Look at today’s Tories and what are they doing. Seeking to destroy the welfare state plus scrap the NHS! The only difference between now and then is most of the press. Back then they would have created outrage at the Tories just trying. Now the press by in large hand out words of encouragement.

Cameron, Osborne and Ian Duncan Smith all think of Thatcher as the person they most admire, It says it all. 

No matter the issue it will keep getting worse and worse if we leave Cameron in office after 2015 as we have not seen anything it is just the tip of the iceberg of whats to come under a Conservative Government should they get elected if they win it outright majority in the house. George Osborne orders ‘ambitious’ new efficiency drive, to be detailed in the Autumn Statement, for savings and job cuts stretching deep into the next parliament.

Hundreds of thousands of civil servants and other government employees are facing the sack under sweeping Tory plans to cut back the state.

Ministers are drawing up radical measures, to be announced in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, which will see widespread privatisations and at least one million public sector workers removed from the government payroll by the end of the decade.

The Treasury has now ordered the Cabinet Office to prepare an “ambitious” new programme of efficiency savings stretching deep into the next parliament after the 2015 election.

It comes as new laws are announced to force future governments to reduce red tape for businesses, and a fresh assault is launched on “fat cat” public officials’ pay.

Matthew Hancock, the business minister and one of Mr Osborne’s closest allies, declares that government must “get out of the way” to allow companies to thrive.

A new Small Business Bill will set down in law new targets for reducing the amount of regulations that shopkeepers and other small businesses have to comply with “We are on track to be the first government in modern times to reduce the burden of regulation on business. Our ‘one in, two out’ rule ensures that the burden of regulation keeps falling. Now we will put the deregulation target into the law entrenching the need for government to reduce their burden on business,”Mr Hancock said.

In a separate move, Eric Pickles, the Local Government secretary, will also step up his assault on “exorbitant” salaries for public officials this week, ordering councils to share senior executives across local authorities and stamp out high pay deals.

The Conservative effort to roll back the state comes after worse than expected economic figures showed that government borrowing rose last month.

A succession of positive reports from economists reinforced the message that Britain is returning to strong growth.

However, Mr Osborne has also warned voters that the economy is not yet safe and the Tories are expected to argue in next year’s election campaign that they should be allowed to finish the job rather than letting Labour put the recovery at risk.

The budget deficit is forecast to continue until at least 2018, requiring public spending restraint well beyond the general election.

Ministers have been told that the government workforce will fall by about one million between 2011 and 2019. At a rate of 36,000 per quarter, this is the equivalent of sacking one state employee every four minutes, every day, for the next five years.

At a meeting in Whitehall earlier this month, Mr Osborne told officials: “We’ve made excellent progress and have now shown that we can deliver savings and reforms year after year. But there’s still more to do. There’s a job to finish.”

He said he wanted “an ambitious new efficiency programme” to deliver savings “across the next Parliament” and to be announced in time for the Autumn Statement later this year. “We know we need to spend taxpayers’ money responsibly,” he said.

A senior government source said the public would be urged to back further spending cuts at the next election with a simple message that Britain’s soaring debts require everyone to tighten their belts further.

“What we’ve done so far has been presented as radical but it’s actually been pretty incremental we haven’t been reinventing the wheel,” the source said

“We want to go further. It’s like a firm cutting overheads – no leading organisation ever stops looking for efficiencies and the civil service shouldn’t be any different.”

The reforms are expected to see more government offices privatised and turned into “public service mutuals”, which are owned by their staff, but funded by private sector payments rather than the taxpayer.

The “digitisation” of services will also put more government functions online, reducing the number of civil servants on the state payroll.

Next week, ministers will also urge councillors to block high pay for chief executives and other senior officials, as unions insist that salaries of more than £200,000 for town hall officials are justified.

MPs on the communities and local government select committee will take evidence from senior government figures as part of an inquiry into the pay of council chief executives.

One plan being promoted by the Department for Communities and Local Government is for more councils to share their chief executives and senior management teams.

It has been purported that Mr Pickles told “senior town hall pay was allowed to spiral out of control under the Labour Government and we have been very clear that councils need to show much greater restraint.

“All local authorities should be focusing resources on protecting frontline services and keeping council tax down rather than throwing away taxpayers’ money. Councils are now legally required to open up their books to public scrutiny, and councillors now have the powers to stop exorbitant pay deals they should use them.”

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7) It has been suggested that Chris Green suggests that Labour, under Blair and Brown, damaged the country and that we have nothing to say on the economy.
He also blames Labour for immigration concerns, provides advice for Labour on how we are to “get our voters back” in Bolton, whilst telling us we should not oppose Tory welfare reform. And he declares that inward investment in the town centre and in Horwich is all down to Tory achievement.

The public know the truth. The Tories continue to peddle lies about what really happened to the international financial markets and major economies in the West, blaming Labour in an attempt to draw votes their way again.

It’s ridiculous to suggest that Labour has “nothing to say on the economy” when we have, in Ed Balls, an economist who reveals every wasted opportunity the Tories have had to deliver a fairer cost of living to the average Boltonian. Labour has a better economic offer. Cameron knows this and forever complains about our Shadow Chancellor.

Mostly we’re up against Right-wing newspapers that don’t print Labour opinion and policies. The public know how much power the media have in this country.
Local government officers and councillors have worked hard to secure economic investment in Bolton that, at a stroke, could have gone elsewhere in the North West.

It is not right that the prospective parliamentary candidate fails to acknowledge the hard political and strategic work that is needed every day for this town. The idea that everything that is wrong with immigration and policy on Europe that voters care about began on May 2, 1997, when Labour won the election, is bizarre.

Both parties have looked back over their policies changed this not having social security for unemployed, sick, old and disabled people is inhumane. Some people are so poor with the welfare sanctions, they return food to food banks that they can’t heat up as they can’t afford the meter. Tory “welfare reform” is a disaster with a litany of misery. Even the archbishops have spoken out. It is a shameful legacy of the Conservatives.

8) We all know the media lies and excludes anything important, that it’s under authoritarian Tory control? That IDS ‘monitors’ the BBC for ‘left wing bias’, that the Guardian’s occasional forays into truth are stifled by jackbooted officials marching in and smashing hard drives do you really imagine that such a government media spokesperson  will do any justice to reporting about the positive intentions and actions of its opposition? Not one bit.

Yet I see people running around hysterically with the cherry-picked, distorted media spun soundbites, as if the media is somehow suddenly credible when it talks of the opposition, and when you actually read what was said and proposed at the unspun source, it bears no resemblance at all to the media tale of the unexpected…if you trouble yourself to investigate these things, the crap being published and broadcast doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. 

And when the media resort to personal smears like they did last year about Ralph Miliband – you know they are worried about being defeated.

9) Finally there was a media  silence on the 50,000 who marched against government imposed austerity at the weekend tells us all we need to know about Britain’s “free” press.

The Guardian consented to run a report on the march online, though it was not mentioned at all in the group’s Sunday title the Observer. 

Other papers ignored it completely as, initially, did the BBC, before a flood of complaints forced it to post a grudging acknowledgement on its Facebook page.

Broadcasting pundits and well-heeled newspaper columnists were quick to cry foul at the idea of state regulation of their sector after the revelation of mass illegal snooping at the now defunct News of the World and other Rupert Murdoch titles, citing the vital importance of an independent and diverse media which could hold the powerful to account.

Who could disagree with that? But Britain’s major newspapers, owned by a handful of mostly foreign-based billionaires, are not diverse and do not hold the powerful to account.

Most of the biggest titles Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Times  are open cheerleaders for the Tory Party, which is hardly surprising since it is the party which best represents the class interests of their owners.

To this end evidence-free hate-mongering about immigrants and “benefit cheats” and hysterical attacks on workers who dare to flex their collective muscles through their trade unions are all the rage.

But tens of thousands of people marching through the centre of Britain’s capital demanding an alternative to the ruling class war on working people? That’s not news, apparently. 

Indeed, the publicly funded BBC claimed that it was unable to provide “extensive” coverage of the march because of other more important stories on the day — which included significantly smaller crowds gathering to watch the solstice sun come up that morning. 

The excuse does not explain why a BBC News tweet about the march was subsequently deleted, suggesting deliberate censorship rather than a simple case of odd priorities.

Even newspapers which are not consistently Tory act to perpetuate the poisonous narrative of the ruling class, whether this takes the form of the Independent’s cheerleading for marketising our public services or the Guardian’s support for the fascist-backed coup in Ukraine and the bloody war that country’s new leaders are waging against their opponents in the east. Other examples could be added ad nauseam.

The fact is that Britain’s rulers do not need to regulate or censor the press, because they own it. 

As Lenin once said: “In capitalist usage, freedom of the press means freedom of the rich to bribe the press, freedom to use their wealth to shape and fabricate so-called public opinion.”

So it’s no surprise that only one newspaper backs the People’s Assembly, just as only we have supported and campaigned for the victims of blacklisting, backed trade unions fighting to defend their members’ pay and pensions and stood firm for peace and socialism and against imperialist war.

Saturday’s magnificent march was only the beginning of a summer of strikes and demonstrations, a summer in which the labour movement will seize the initiative and take the fight to the Tories.

The mass media’s response was to pretend it didn’t happen. This weekend’s events show more clearly than ever how important it is that working people have their own voice.




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