CBI and Brown spell out the cuts message


THE CBI New Year’s message calls for ‘a new and re-energised government by the summer, with – we hope – the authority to take the decisions necessary to reshape the public finances.’

The CBI Director General Richard Lambert is keeping his options open – he does not call for the return of a Tory government!

This is how uncertain this section of the ruling class is about its future. Its indecision is, in its own way, a tribute to the good service that the Blair-Brown governments have done for big business and the banks.

The CBI has few illusions as to what the New Year will bring. Its message states: ‘This will be a year of exceptional challenges for businesses in Britain. Looking 12 months ahead, the risks and the opportunities both seem strikingly clear.’

It points out that ‘the international banking crisis is far from resolved. . . . there could be more aftershocks to come from the global credit crunch. . . net lending to companies is still shrinking, and business investment remains very weak.’

It stresses: ‘The Government has not yet established a credible path back to fiscal stability for the UK.

The longer this is delayed, the greater the threat to long-term interest rates and sterling. Everyone knows that painful decisions are going to have to be made sooner or later about public spending and tax. . . the second half of the year might produce rumblings in the public sector, if the new Government begins to get a grip on the spending side.’

The CBI message calls for the indebtedness of the UK to be ‘largely fixed within the lifetime of the next parliament’. In fact the Brown government is planning to go a further £179bn into debt in 2010-12.

The Prime Minister’s New Year’s message borders on the fatuous. The Chancellor who boasted that he had taken the crisis out of capitalism, plays the fool and pledges ‘a decade of prosperity’.

He says: ‘I believe we can create a new decade of prosperity with opportunities fairly shared amongst all those who work hard and play by the rules.’

He continues: ‘So let me talk to you about my key priorities for the coming year. . .’

The major priority turns out to be that ‘we will continue our relentless reform of public services to ensure they always deliver the best for you and your family – not uniform services, but personal services, tailored to your need and your aspirations.’

With unbounded cynicism, Brown tries to disguise his plans for sacking hundreds of thousands of public sector workers and freezing public sector wages for years, as creating ‘personal services tailored to your needs and your aspirations’.

Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis has responded to the bosses’ offensives being planned by the CBI and the plans of the Brown government by stating ‘Any attempt to make public service workers pay for the reckless greed, arrogance and risk-taking by City bankers, who should have known better, will be challenged.’

He adds: ‘Unison will stand up for our 1.4 million members and the essential jobs they do in our communities. It will ensure that their voice is heard at every level in our society as we approach a general election.’

Prentis is limiting Unison’s defence of its members to a bit of propagandising ‘as we approach a general election.’

This is no answer to the CBI call for savage cuts, and predictions of ‘rumblings’ in the public sector, and to Brown’s pledge of a ‘relentless reform of the public services’.

There must be a serious response to what are serious threats.

A serious threat must be met with serious action.

Unison, Unite and all of the TUC trade unions must spell out to the CBI and the Brown government that they will meet major cuts, wage freezing and mass sackings with a general strike to bring down the Brown government, or whatever capitalist government is in office, and bring in a workers’ government that will expropriate the bankers and bosses and bring in socialist policies and socialism.