BROWN’S proud boast yesterday in his pre-budget speech was that ‘In no other decade has Britain’s personal wealth – up 60 per cent – grown so fast.’
In fact he is talking about the wealth of the bourgeoisie, the bankers and the city brokers. In the last decade the gap between the rich and the poor has grown wider in the UK than what it was, even under the Tories.
In his speech Brown unveiled the challenge before the British bosses – to drive down the living standards of the working class to the point where the bosses are able to undercut India and China.
China and India were depicted as frightening and powerful rivals of the British bosses. He said: ‘China alone is manufacturing half the world’s computers, half the world’s clothes, and more than half the world’s digital electronics and this Christmas, more than 75 per cent of children’s toys.
‘But in the next ten years the competitive challenge is even more profound. Once responsible for just one eighth of the world’s growth, China and India will soon capture almost half.
‘And increasingly they are competing not just on low cost, but on high skills. While every year Britain adds 75,000 engineers and computer scientists, India and China add half a million; and while annually Britain turns out quarter of a million graduates, India and China now graduate four million.’
His pre-budget speech was essentially a programme to allow the British bosses to super exploit the British workers so as to tackle this new peril from the East.
He said: ‘So economies like ours have no choice but to out-innovate and out-perform competitors . . .’
How is this to be done: ‘The investments that Britain must make can only be achieved in a new era of shared responsibility and partnership between private and public sectors.’ The Private Finance Initiative drive is to be intensified, and more and more of the state health and education budgets handed over to the banks in the form of PFI contracts, while health and education are privatised, with workers’ wages and pensions cut in the process.
Brown proudly declared that 45,000 civil service jobs had already gone.
He added that there also had to be ‘fairness’.
Under this label he revealed that large numbers of employers are paying below the pitiful minimum wage of £5.35 an hour, to the point where the employers as a whole are agitating to get rid of it, so that they can do the same.
Since this would mean any remaining working class support deserting Labour, Brown proposed a ‘fair’ remedy. ‘The Minimum Wage is now £5.35 per hour. But to be effective we must ensure British workers and good British companies are not undercut by illegal rates. In January we will raise the penalties for persistent illegality, and to raise the standards of enforcement I am announcing a 50 per cent increase to £9 million in the budget to monitor and police the Minimum Wage.’
He added: ‘But our objectives cannot be achieved either by government alone or business alone.’
Brown is aiming to bring in the charities to do the work of the public sector, funding them for three years instead of the current one year and providing them with ‘community ownership of assets’ further devastating public sector jobs.
As well, strategic planning decisions on major infrastructure projects are to be made by independent bodies. There are to be no more time and profit consuming inquiries or consultations. At the same time, the number of local authority inspections are going to be cut, with early rulings on tax matters.
Class war means more security and spying. Brown said that there is to be ‘an additional £84 million directed to intelligence and counter terrorism. Our budget for security, which was just £1 billion in 2001, will now be for 2008, over £2 billion.’
So for Brown, it is to be a no holds barred struggle against the working class, and capitalist Britain’s competitors.
The only way forward for the working class is to bring down the Brown-Blair government to go forward to a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies to put an end to British capitalism.