In an interview on Sunday the Tory chancellor, George Osborne, made it absolutely clear that as far as the coalition government is concerned there will be no going back on the policy of imposing savage austerity cuts to the welfare state, wages and benefits.
Osborne was speaking in advance of tomorrow’s autumn statement on the state of the British economy – a statement that will acknowledge that all the cuts made in the past two and a half years by the coalition have completely failed to rescue British capitalism from collapsing under the impact of the world banking crisis.
With Osborne pledging that there will be no turning back from making the working class pay for the crisis the only course open to him is to massively intensify these attacks.
The cuts already imposed are making life a living hell for millions of workers and sections of the middle class as illustrated in last week’s ‘Which?’ report that revealed that 10 million households are facing financial problems with 2.3 million admitting they had defaulted on loan repayments and rent.
It is in public services like the NHS that the full effect of Osborne’s drive to cut expenditure in order to prop up the banks is being most acutely felt.
Yesterday a study by the Dr Foster’s organisation reported that NHS hospitals are ‘full to bursting’ with bed occupancy rates well over the 85%, the absolute maximum for patients to receive proper medical treatment.
This acute shortage of beds has put patients’ lives at risk, and the report states that death rates in over a dozen hospitals are ‘worryingly high’.
The reason for this crisis, which is seeing more and more hospitals forced to close their doors to emergency admissions, is not hard to discern – it is a direct result of the financial cuts that are forcing not just wards but entire hospitals to close down across the country.
At the Royal Bolton hospital 500 doctors, nurses and admin staff face the sack in order to make £38 million in savings, while 1,600 will have their jobs terminated and be forced to re-apply on worse pay and conditions.
In South London an entire NHS trust has been declared bankrupt by the government and handed over to administrators to close down hospitals or sell them off to privateers.
Hospitals like Chase Farm in Enfield and the QE II in Hertfordshire face closure with the mass sacking of medical staff.
From the NHS right through to schools and libraries every single publicly owned service faces closure or privatisation.
In the face of this onslaught, the trade union leadership refuse to lead any fight, insisting workers must accept their fate and hang on for two and a half years until the next general election when there is a chance of a Labour government – that is also committed to the same cuts as Osborne.
The working class cannot wait any longer – every single service and job must be defended immediately.
This means that Councils of Action, uniting trade unionists and the community, must be set up in every locality to organise the occupation of any hospital or public service to physically prevent its closure.
These Councils of Action must organise to defend workers and the middle classes from being completely smashed by the crisis of capitalism.
This is the immediate task but it must be part of the fight to force the TUC to call an-all out general strike to bring down this government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.
In the general strike, Councils of Action will have a major part in the organisation and defence of the strike and the communities they serve.
There can be no delay, build Councils of Action in every area.
Forward to the general strike and a workers government.