A REPORT this week from the Equality and Human Rights Commission into the effects of Tory austerity cuts has brought home the fact that far from being ‘all in it together’, as the Tories claim, the working class has suffered the greatest cuts ever.
These cuts have fallen disproportionally on the very poorest, with the study revealing that 20% of the poorest households in England have lost an average of 11% of their income. The top fifth of households in England, the wealthiest in the country, have lost precisely zero as a result of austerity.
Total spending on the public services like health and welfare, services that working class families are totally dependent on, will have fallen by £1,500 per household in England by 2021.
The most vulnerable sections of the working class have been the most hit by austerity, with single parent families losing 19% of their income, while households with disabled members are suffering even more from the cuts to benefits imposed by the Tories in order to pay for bailing out the banks following the crash in 2008. This latest report echoes an earlier one this month from the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty in the UK, Philip Alston.
Where both reports fall down is in their conclusion that austerity was a ‘political choice’ by the Tories, a choice that can be reversed if only the Tories wanted to. In fact, there was no choice for capitalism – the banks had to be saved and the working class had to pay off the huge national debt incurred by bailing them out through having their benefits slashed, wages held down to poverty levels, forcing families to exist on the charity of food banks, running up massive debts just to survive or face eviction when unable to pay the landlords.
One thing was certain: the bankers and capitalist class were not going to suffer, as the report points out. In fact, the fortunes of the obscenely rich in the UK, people with over £50 million, increased by 8.5% to 4,670 in the last year alone. Under austerity, Britain has more billionaires than ever before in history. This has not been lost on the working class.
The class hatred of the bankers and speculators who lord it over the ‘little people’ and condemn them to poverty, on a scale not seen since the 19th century, expressed itself in the 2016 referendum on membership of the EU.
Workers in their millions defied not just the Tories and the bosses but their own trade union leaders, with the exception of the railway and bakers’ unions, to vote to leave the bankers’ and bosses’ EU.
They defied the leadership of the Labour Party which peddled the same ‘project fear’ that leaving the embrace of a capitalist EU would spell destitution. After all, for workers, what could possibly be any worse than the austerity regime imposed to save British capitalism?
Today, the same project fear is being resurrected with threats of economic Armageddon if the UK doesn’t remain tied to the EU. Remainers were joined this week by the Treasury, which forecast the country would lose £150 billion if the UK leaves without a ‘deal’.
These threats may have been enough to scare the Labour Party leaders, who are now plotting with the Tories to overthrow the Brexit referendum through a spurious people’s vote, but it is enraging millions of workers who already have no future under this bankrupt capitalist system.
With the Labour leadership reneging on their pledge at the last general election to break with the EU, the working class is breaking with its old leadership and tearing apart all the political certainties of the bourgeoisie. Increasingly, workers see that their only future lies in the smashing of capitalism through socialist revolution and advancing to a workers government that will meet all the threats from the capitalist class by expropriating them, placing the banks and industry under workers’ management as part of a socialist economy and which will break with the EU immediately.
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