IN A speech last November, Cameron declared a permanent ‘austerity war’ against the working class, singling out the unemployed and young people as the main enemy of capitalist recovery.
This declaration of war was reinforced in December when the Tory chancellor, George Osborne, announced in parliament that a further £3 billion was to be cut from public expenditure.
Yesterday this relentless, never-ending attack on public spending and the welfare state was stepped up even further when Osborne announced his intention to make another £25 billion in cuts to the welfare bill.
Boasting that the coalition had already made cuts in welfare of around £83 billion, Osborne made it clear that this was not enough.
Flying in the face of all the government propaganda that British capitalism is well on the road to recovery, he stated that the country faced ‘a year of hard truths’ in 2014 and that these cuts would initially be aimed at benefits for youth and people of working age before moving on to the so-called pensioner benefits like free bus passes and television licences.
Without spelling out his proposals in detail, Osborne made it quite clear that he intends to withdraw housing benefit from all young people aged under 25.
Not just youth, but anyone living in a council house is coming under the hammer, with Osborne promising means testing for council tenants with anyone fortunate enough to actually have a job and a wage finding their rents being pushed up.
Speaking later in the day at a meeting in Birmingham Osborne explained: ‘We’re borrowing around £100 billion a year – and paying half that money a year in interest just to service our debts. We’ve got to make more cuts.’
The actual official figures, which themselves do not accurately reflect the real depth of British capitalism’s bankruptcy, are that in 2013 the British public debt (the total amount borrowed by the government) amounted to over £1.3 trillion and the national debt is increasing – despite all the cuts made so far – by about £121 billion a year or £2.3 billion each week.
This debt has been more than doubled by the bailout of the banking system!
As always, official figures vary on how much has been spent out of public money to prop up the banks with figures ranging from £850 billion to £1.2 trillion, but whatever figure is chosen the stark fact remains that cuts of £25 million in welfare expenditure will not even scratch the surface of the huge debt run up by a collapsing banking system.
When Osborne and Cameron promise to ‘bring down the debt’ they are talking about the complete ending of all government spending on health, pensions, welfare and education.
These proposed cuts, savage as they are, will pale in comparison with what capitalism will be forced to inflict in order to stumble on from one catastrophe to the next.
The immediate future held out to young people of a life of unemployment with no benefits or working for slave wages while being forced to live on the streets, is the future for the entire working class under this bankrupt capitalist system.
There is no way that the working class will peacefully accept being driven back to conditions akin to those that existed before the creation of trade unions at the start of the 19th century.
The time is more than ripe for the working class to bring down this weak and hated coalition government. The only thing stopping it is a leadership in the trade unions that is determined at all costs to avoid this fight.
The fight against Osborne’s plans means a fight to either force these leaders to call a general strike to bring down the government and bring in a workers government that will advance to socialism or remove them and replace them with a new leadership determined to lead this struggle to get rid of this bankrupt capitalist system.