EVERYONE has had the chance to work out what the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review means, with £81bn in cuts hitting jobs and public services, and the destruction of the Welfare State.
More than 500,000 public sector jobs are to be axed in the next period and a further 500,000 are under threat as firms see government contracts disappear.
The budgets of government departments will be cut by an average of 19%!
As far as education is concerned, current spending will be 3.4% less and capital spending down 60%.
The NHS will have a budget of £106.4bn, including £20bn of cuts through so-called ‘efficiency savings’, and capital spending will be slashed by 17%.
There are to be draconian cuts to the Work and Pensions budget. A new 12-month time limit for the one million people on employment and support allowance to find work. There will also be a new threshold for housing benefit. The state pension age is to be raised to 66 for men and women by 2020.
With such an historically unprecedented all-out Tory class war against the Welfare State, Labour leader Ed Miliband had yet to issue a major statement on it yesterday. Instead it was left to Alan Johnson to challenge Chancellor George Osborne on behalf of the Labour Opposition.
Johnson said: ‘It’s our firm belief that the rush to cut the deficit endangers the recovery and reduces the prospects for employment in the short term and for prosperity in the longer term. We believe we can and should sustain a more gradual reduction, securing growth.’
So there you have it! Miliband, Johnson and company are not opposed to huge cuts in jobs, benefits and essential services, they merely want to carry them out more slowly.
The reactions of TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, Derek Simpson, the joint leader of Unite, and Dave Prentis of Unison, were to condemn the cuts, while having nothing to say about taking action to fight them!
Barber said: ‘We are going to build public support for real pressure on the government to change its course. I don’t think up till now people have realised what the impact of these cuts would be.’ He is appealing to the Tories’ non-existent ‘better nature’ and is reading from the same script as Johnson.
Aware of the huge anger amongst their members, the so-called ‘Left’ trade union leaders, like Mark Serwotka of PCS and Bob Crow of the RMT union, did not voice such a craven capitulation to the Tories.
Serwotka said: ‘The brunt of this recession is falling on public sector workers. There is no way that this can be claimed to be fair. Unions and community organisations will work together to co-ordinate our resistance.’
Crow said: ‘We should look to French trade unions as an example of how to resist austerity cuts.’
The more than seven million workers in trade unions affiliated to the TUC are already resisting mass sackings and the destruction of essential services imposed by the Tory-LibDem regime.
They know that this is a political, class-war attack from a government that has no legitimacy or mandate to destroy the Welfare State.
They know that protesting to the Cameron-Clegg regime, which is determined to defend the bankers and capitalists at any price, is not the answer.
They have witnessed general strike after general strike in countries like Greece, France and Spain, where workers and youth are taking to the streets to kick out the likes of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
It is clear that what is required is the mobilisation of the the whole strength of the working class, organised in powerful trade unions that can bring the country to a standstill, in a general strike to defend jobs, services and the Welfare State, and to force the Tory-LibDem regime to resign.
This will prepare the way for a workers’ government that will defend and expand the Welfare State through socialist policies.
• Join the Workers Revolutionary Party today and build a new revolutionary leadership in the trade unions!
• Support the Young Socialists’ National March for Jobs and Free State Education, from Manchester to London, beginning on October 30!