‘Big Society’ – wholesale destruction of the Welfare State

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TORY prime minister, David Cameron, launched a desperate attempt yesterday to try and convince an incredulous public that his ‘Big Society’ policy is something other than a front for the slash and burn cuts of the coalition.

In a major speech Cameron asserted that the ‘Big Society’ is his mission while his ‘duty’ is to bring down the huge government deficits, caused by the banks, through the wholesale destruction of the welfare state, creating mass unemployment, cutting wages and pensions.

In fact, Cameron’s ‘duty’ is to save a bankrupt British capitalism at the expense of the working class and his ‘mission’ is to accomplish this at all costs.

Stripped of all the flowery nonsense about ‘empowering’ communities lies the inescapable reality that what Cameron is proposing is to smash public services and replace them with private companies.

In those areas of public services that cannot make a profit, and are therefore not attractive propositions for privatisation, the ‘Big Society’ option is to run them with volunteers.

How long will it be before volunteering becomes compulsory for the unemployed?

Even the professional charities have found this nonsense hard to stomach, pointing out that the existing voluntary sector has lost £4.5 billion as a result of the cuts and that to expect them to step in to replace services closed by the government is impossible.

Cameron has come up with an answer to this when he unveiled the plans for a ‘Big Society Bank’.

This bank will be supposedly financed from the £100 million lying around in dormant accounts in the banking system, it will also get loans of £200 million from the main banks – RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds.

In order not to stretch the philanthropy of the banks too far, these loans will be made at commercial lending rates – so a nice little earner for them.

The ‘Big Society Bank’ will not, as some expected, actually put money into charities or charitable enterprises, it will instead give money to other investors.

According to Cameron, this investment in private enterprise will enable these companies in turn to make money which, it is hoped, they will then give to charities.

In practice, what will happen is that this bank would be used to provide capital for management buy-outs of public services that are being closed.

The bank, in short, is nothing more than a mechanism for the transfer of parts of the welfare state to private companies.

The beauty for Cameron and Osborne for this scheme is that it costs the government nothing, the original money coming from bank accounts long forgotten or from loans to be repaid at the high rates of interests, so profits all round for the banks.

The response of the TUC and its general secretary, Brendan Barber, was predictable in its reformist banality.

He denounced the government’s cuts as being ‘unnecessary and economically damaging’, once again clinging to the TUC and Labour Party mantra that there is an alternative under capitalism to making the working class pay for the bankers’ crisis.

This belief is at the heart of the TUC’s ‘March for the Alternative’ due to take place on March 26.

The only alternative they are proposing is that the government should make bankers pay more tax on their bonuses.

To demand that this government tax the bankers or that this would be sufficient to save British capitalism is lunacy of the highest order.

The March 26 demonstration must make its central demand the only policy that matches up to this crisis: that a general strike is organised now to bring down this government and replace it with a workers government that will go forward to socialism.